The Baroque Churches of the Philippines is the official designation to a collection of four Spanish-era churches in the Philippines, upon its inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003. They are also one of the most treasured in the Country. These churches have been at the forefront of Philippine history, not just in furthering Christianity in the archipelago, but in serving as the political backbone of Spanish colonial rule, when Church and State were regarded as one.
The unique architecture of the churches didn't just reflect the adaptation of Spanish/Latin American architecture to the local environment (including the fusion with Chinese motifs), but also of the Church's political influence. These churches had been subject to attacks by local revolts and rebellions, hence, most had the appearance of a fortress, rather than just serving as mere religious structures. This is especially noteworthy in the case of Santa Maria Church, located on top of a hill, serving as a citadel during times of crisis.
Miag-ao Church also withstood the occasional attacks of Muslims from the south. Further, the location of the Philippines along the Pacific Ring of Fire called for the emphasis on the buttresses and foundations of these churches, with some being seriously damaged, but eventually rebuilt after an earthquake. The Malaueg Church still stands with its stone walls and it still can withstand earthquakes that hit the country after centuries. The most imposing of these buttresses could be found in Paoay Church, while the true testament of this architecture could be seen in San Agustin Church, Manila, the only structure in Intramuros to survive World War II. Hence, the unique architectural style became known as Earthquake Baroque.
The collection is composed of the following:
Aside from these five churches, another church which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List is the Vigan
Cathedral under the inscription Historic Town of Vigan. The Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has also designated the conservation and protection of more than 30 other Spanish-era churches to be of utmost importance. These were registered as National Cultural Treasures.
These churches were given priority status not just due to their historical value, but also based on the geographic representation of various regions across the nation:
- Parish Church of San Agustin in Bacong, Negros Oriental
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Balayan, Batangas
- Parish Church of Santiago Apostol in Betis Guagua, Pampanga
- Parish Church of Patrocinio de Maria in Boljoon, Cebu
- Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Calasiao, Pangasinan
- Parish Church of San Vicente de Ferrer in Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Guiuan, Eastern Samar
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental