By: Gaspar A. Vibal
Appears in: More Hispanic Than We Admit 3: Quincentennial Edition 1521 – 1820 Filipino and Spanish Interactions over the Centuries

ABSTRACT: This synoptic essay presents the development of Philippine artistic and architectural conventions during the early modern period. Using a regional approach, it traces the major influences of the three traditions that grew in parallel, as well as the rich and diverse artistic productions that arose out of Islamization, Hispanization, and the indigenous milieu. Although the development of the arts is traced from the visual discourse of indigenous culture with two exogenous forms of Western thought and religions, historical circumstances demonstrated that these cross-cultural exchanges did not completely erase native agency or its innate sense of autochthonous visuality or ways of seeing.

For five centuries before the time of Spanish arrival, the Philippines had been the eastern crossroads of Chinese, Indian, and Islamic trading networks. The lowland peoples of the archipelago enjoyed a history of long-distance trading of artifacts, which spurred artisanal activities in its maritime polities and pointed to the “trans-cultural, mutual processes that that took place within complex set of networks.”[1] By the tenth century CE, many coastal regions of Island Southeast Asia were engaged in mercantile exchange with traders who plied the lucrative routes between West Asia (Middle East) and China. Many of the voyagers such as makhdum (teachers) were of Islamic origin, who hailed from the Arab world, India, Island Southeast Asia, and even Quanzhou, China, where a large Islamic community had thrived.

Thus, it is possible that some Islamic proselytizers may also have come from flourishing Muslim communities in China. In the Philippines, the earliest and most important Muslim epigraphic evidence found in Bud Dato, Jolo, was carved on the headstone of the Tuan Maqbalu’s tomb, which commemorated his death in 1310. Chiseled out of a volcanic basalt, Maqbalu’s grave marker bore a pointed top and the Arabic inscription, “Whoever dies far away (from his home) dies as a martyr.” Chinese scholar Chen Ta-Sheng traced the headstone’s origin to the city of Quanzhou, where that city’s Islamic tombs were dated contemporaneously and shared a similar design. Hence, he speculated that “it could be possible that Maqbalu’s shrine in Bud Datu was commissioned and carved in Quanzhou” due to friends or traders that plied the Sulu, Ma-i, and Quanzhou route.[2]

Synchronicities of miracles and a dispute over the Santo Niño

The occurrence of miracles is associated with the initial local acceptance of Islam and Christanity, two major Western religions that reached the Philippines roughly two centuries apart. In the year 1316, a group of Muslim travelers headed by Karim al-Makhdum landed in Tawi-Tawi to preach the tenets of Islam, but the locals refused to listen. Invited to eat with them, Karim inadvertently consumed pork and left abruptly to purify himself in a lake. Soon after, the daughter of the local chief fell ill, and the people implored Makhdum to cure the woman. Miraculously she recovered, after which the indigenes all converted to the Makhdum’s faith. To commemorate this, the populace erected a tomb to Karim’s son, which became an important site of pilgrimage, and the surrounding area was turned into a sacred space, where to this day ritual cleansing is still observed by pilgrims who immerse themselves in the lake. By 1380, the first mosque in the Philippines, now declared a national historical landmark, was erected nearby on Simunul island, Tawi-Tawi.[3]

A similar set of wondrous circumstances marked the introduction of Christianity in Cebu island. On 28 April 1565, a pivotal “miracle” occurred in Philippine history after the forces of the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi had set native houses on fire and discovered the statue of the Holy Child (Santo Niño de Cebú) that they ecstatically believed to have been Ferdinand Magellan’s gift to Queen Juana forty-four years earlier.[4] After Legazpi espied the image, “he dropped to his knees in receiving it with great devotion, took it into his hands and kissed its feet, raising his eyes to heavens while uttering ‘All powerful Lord, you were about to punish the offenses committed in these islands against Your Majesty so that Your house and holy Church could be established and where Your Most Glorious Name be praised and exalted. I beg you to enlighten and guide me in such a way that everything we do here be to Your glory and honor, and the praise of Your Holy Catholic faith.”[5] The Spaniards were then astounded at the sudden arrival of Rajah Tupas with one hundred other natives after the former had placed the Santo Niño for veneration in a procession.[6] This series of felicitous events led Legazpi to believe that the image itself was “the nexus between the past and the future as well as the divine evidence of the predestined Christianization of the Philippines.”[7]

Santo Niño de Cebú

A second miraculous event was perceived to have happened when Legazpi died on 20 August 1572 and another miraculous image was discovered—the wooden Ecce Homo—which was reputed to have been given in Cebu by Magellan to Queen Juana’s husband, Rajah Carli (Humabon), fifty-one years earlier. Juan Castilla, a Spanish soldier, found the wooden statue in a well-kept casket that had preserved the perfectly dry body of Rajah Carli along with the wooden statue of the suffering Christ.

The preservation of Magellan’s cross and the two images strengthened in both Spaniards and natives the belief in divine intercession, with the Santo Niño becoming the “foundation stone… of the faith of the Filipinos.”[8] Fr. Pedro Galende speculated that “the devotion to Santo Niño can be viewed not only from phenomenological and historical angles but also from the mystical level, which defies explanation.” Carl Gustav Jung defined synchronicities as mystical phenomena perceived as meaningful coincidences. In an early Augustinian chronicle, Fr. Gaspar de San Agustín already perpetrated the notion that this discovery was “yet another instance of extraordinary manifestation of Our Lord Jesus in the lives of the persons intertwined with the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu.”[9]

The icon of the Christ Child as a king holding the cross-bearing orb had already spread thoroughout Spain and as far as Bohemia even before the Counter Reformation movement was launched after the Council of Trent (1545–1563). The oldest surviving Catholic relic in the Philippines, the Holy Child is carved of wood and is depicted with its left hand holding a small globe surmounted by a cross. Attributing its origin as Flemish. San Agustín described it in these words: “The Divine Child was the size of a tercia [of a vara, meaning eleven inches] and had on a flounced shirt. His dress was of red damask with a velvet Flemish cap in the old style. It held a small sphere in the hand. […] And despite the common opinion of historians that the image had been on the island since the death of Magellan, it does not seem believable, because the natives A Lady appeared to a Spanish sentry along the shore near the royal port of Cavite of the Acapulco-bound galleons.[10] A mournful composition in canvas mounted on wood, the Virgin Mary is clad in black and white as she contemplates nails and the crown of thorns, the instruments of her son’s passion. Her iconographic representation is that of a grief-stricken woman who nevertheless illuminates with her light, a trait she shares with the Nuestra Señora de Guía and that of La Naval and which became their defining characteristic during the baroque era of trans-oceanic maritime exchanges.[11]

Another holy image found in nature was reported on 19 May 1571 by Legazpi’s soliders who reconnoitered the southern shores of the newly settled Manila. They found a small ebony image made of native molave and narra wood that was ensconced in the leaves of a pandan plant. The Tagalog natives reported that they had worshipped the icon for years. Howver, after they had repeatedly removed it to venerate it elsewhere, the image returned mysteriously on its own to nestle in the same pandan bush.[12] The statue was renamed the Nuestra Señora de Guía, with a church built on her venerated ground and the district named as La Hermita (Ermita). Nicknamed the Black Madonna, her devotion has only been accentuated by her antiquity as an object of veneration even before the establishment of Manila.[13]

Nuestra Señora de Guía, the Black Madonna
(Ramon FVelasquezCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Another Marian image that seized the fervor of travelers was the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage), which was brought in 1626 from Mexico by Governor-General Niño de Tabora. Again, her image is associated with an animist legend because she was reputed to have refused her newly erected altar, preferring instead to settle mysteriously on top of a nearby antipolo (breadfruit) tree. To appease her anger, another altar was built over the area where that tree grew, and to please her the church builders made a special base made of that same wood. During the major Chinese uprising of 1639, Governor-General Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera ordered her evacaution to the port of Cavite, where she was made the patroness of voyages, traveling on galleons for a hundred-year period between 1648 and 1748. Just like the Nuestra Señora de Guía, the image was notable for her dark complexion, which endowed her with indigeneity, turning her into one of the more popular devotional cults.[14]

Other “dark virgins” appealed to centuries of Filipino devotees. The dark-brown visaged Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia of Naga was commissioned from a resident cimarrón (Aeta) out of santol wood in 1705 as a recreation of a similar famous icon, the Virgen de Peña de Francia of Spain. Locally called Ina (Mother), her legend is closely associated with animist belief. Requiring animal blood to paint pigments on the statue, a dog was bled and thrown into a river. However, upon the intercession of its commissioner Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, the dog was resuscitated after it had been thrown into the river. Since then, Ina has become the center of giant fluvial parades in her honor.[15]

The Nuestra Señora de Caysasay of Taal, Batangas, is carved out of dark brown wood just like the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. Sharing a similar story linked with the animistic veneration of sacred bodies of water, she was fished out of the Pansipit river by fisherman Juan Maningcad in 1603, and like that of Penafrancia she is honored with a fluvial procession. She has the distinction of having another closeby watery site associated with her miracles, that of the Santa Lucía twin wells. To this day cleansing rituals are conducted there where her devotees wash their hair and face with water from the left well and the rest of the body from water drawn from the right well. Her exotically strange facture has led to speculation that this found image is nothing else but the reappropriated icon of Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea.[16]

Unlike in Hispanic Christian culture, animist society did not place a premium on women’s chastity or virginity, nor did it accord them a secondary role. In fact, women priestesses called catalonan or babaylan were endowed with authority in their role of conducting propitiary rites to native gods.[17] Animist art depicted the female in her exposed bodily form, while Hispanic Christian iconography made apparent its fear of the unclothed female body, emphasizing sexual purity, especially in the image of the Virgin Mary, who is seen as the spotless vessel of modesty, chastity, maternity, and obedience. This new visual discourse became deeply imprinted on the Filipino psyche such that it can be said the cult of Mary may have already reached its apogee by 1580, as suggested by Gabriel Casal and Regalado Trota José, when the diocese of Manila installed the Immaculate Conception as its patroness.[18]

Images of Marian art were thus localized either by using local materials, inventing lore and legend, and associating these with former sacral places and practices. Thus, it can be said that the image of the virgin, the mother, and the queen has mediated colonization and conversion in the Philippines and, just like the devotion to the Holy Child, even contributed to its current national identity.[19] The appropriation of Chinese and Spanish iconography with animist cosmology as displayed in devotional images and home altars provide more evidence of syncretism, the simultaneous practice of elements that emanate from diverse religious traditions.

The cult of devotion from likha to santos and icons

Spanish missionary chronicles described the popular devotional sculptures of the early-contact Hispanic era. Fr. Juan de Plasencia wrote that the Tagalog of 1589 “possessed many idols called lic-ha [likha], which were images of different shapes,” while Fr. Pedro Chirino commented that in the indios’ houses they kept “little statues that they called larawan, which signified an ‘idol,’ ‘image,’ or ‘statue.’” An anonymous Spanish observer around 1586 also echoed thosee observations, stating that “their houses were filled with wooden and stone idols that they called taotao or lic-hac.”[20] John Clark observed that one of the earliest examples of the transfer of European discourses occurred precisely because of the natives’ “base of familiarity with icons” as well as their technical virtuosity, which led to the efflorescence of Philippine Christianized folk art.[21] A second element that also predisposed the transfer of European aesthetics from the late sixteenth century was the involvement of Chinese artisans who began forming guilds such that by 1734 around 380 Chinese mestizo famlies were registered as being active “in painting, sculpture, carpentry, and smithing.”[22]

Native-born or non-Chinese sculptors of early Christian statuary—such as santos and other Hispano-Filipino religious or devotional images—received little or no formal ecclesiastical supervision. Without access to models or devotional prints called estampas, local carvers were guided by their own sense of aesthetics. Over time, inspiration for santos came from Spanish-supplied engravings, prints, or other imported statues, many of which had already been influenced by Spanish master sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés (1568–1649), who became renowned for his realistic and theatrical renderings of blood and anatomical details, such as glass eyes, veins, and hair.

Workers in talleres (ateliers), artisans carved out santos in the round or sculpted icons in relief on wooden or ivory panels. In the beginning, the textures were left in their natural color. Later, these were primed by applying gesso and burnished with color (encarnación) on the fleshy or facial surfaces. Polychrome was applied to their surfaces, and for more lustrous effects, estofado could be accomplished by sheathing the statue with silver or gold leaf before overlaying it with polychrome and finally scratching out stylized floriate decorations.These techniques were based on those that had been promoted throughout the Hispanic world by the Spanish theorist Francisco Pacheco (1564–1644), who had written a treatise and whose disciples spread throughout New Spain.[23]

Favored subjects were Jesus, Mary, the Trinity as well as a pantheon of saints whose devotions were encouraged by the different religious orders. Jesus was depicted as a child (Santo Niño) or asleep (dormido). As an adult, he was presented as crucified on the cross—expired or in the act of expiration (expiración)—or mournfully shown as entierro (interred). An extremely popular rendition was of Jesus on his knees while carrying his cross, which was called a Nazareno. A cross bearing Christ’s body was called the Santo Cristo, and if bore no corpus, it was simply called a Santa Cruz. Representations of Jesus as a suffering person gained extreme devotion. The Virgin Mary was represented in all her incarnations. The Trinity, known locally as Tres Personas Solo Un Dios, was shown as three identical figures, which acquired a cult symbolism among the local folk and hence became frowned upon.

An image of the Tatlong Persona Solo Dios as commonly found in folk Catholic temples of the southern Tagalog region.
(From the collection of Dennis S. Villegas)

Saints were represented following classical European iconography. As an ensemble, santos were depicted as the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) or in scenes of the nativity or crucifixion. As a scultural composition, santos were either created as de bastidor (mannequin) or de gozne (with articulated limbs) type. Either of the two lent itself to being further dressed with elaborate liturgical vestments and further adorned with crowns, haloes, and jewels.

Regalado Trota José characterized santos of the earlier times as “depicted frontally, looking straight towards or above the viewer. In contrast with the gorgeously carved volutes and twisted columns that framed them, santos throughout the colonial era proved to be anti-Baroque—Byzantine even—in terms of movement. Although swathed in heavy robes, “their distant gazes exude a sense of timelessness or deep contemplation.”[24] This stoicism echoed the similar pose of otherworldliness and the seeming attitude of impassive yet limitless patience we see in northern Luzon bulul. Esperanza Gatbonton surmised that “this reticence goes back to his own tradition of anito-carving, when the images were regarded purely as objects, as dwelling places for the spirit. All that mattered then was to embody the idea and not the detailing of physical features to produce a likeness.”[25]

Fernando Zóbel attempted an art-historical typology of santos in his landmark 1963 book, Philippine Religious Imagery. He proposed classifying these devotional objects based on their historical development as “popular,” “classical,” or “ornate.” Popular statues were used for domestic devotion and created by “relatively uneducated, unsophisticated painters and sculptors.” Their iconography was reduced to the barest details while paying less attention to formal anatomical proportions, thus exhibiting a “general awkwardness of technique.” Their chromatic rendering depended on the deliberate pairing of clashing complimentary colors with a seeming preference for purple as well as for yellowish reds and greens, which Zóbel proposed was a typical Philippine color scheme.

 Classical statuary, however was marked by its derivative character that could be discerned from its mimetic echoing of Spanish and Latin American models ranging from the late Renaissance to Rococo with an admixture of Chinese influence, “particularly in the use of decorative motifs.” In contrast, Zóbel presented ornate statuary as the degeneration of the classical, ascribing the devolution to “a heavy element of Spanish baroque and romantic ‘realism’ [that] has been added.” He added that this was a logical outcome of the “skill of the sculptors in disguising their materials and in copying second-rate models.”[26]

Esperanza Gatbonton described the clash between the officially sanctioned styles and the exuberant and naïvely designed santos by citing a complaint of Augustinian friar Eladio Zamora about the propensity of Visayan communities for imágenes repulsivas (repulsive images) to the point that the bishop of Jaro was so scandalized that he proscribed the blessing of newly carved images in his parishes. Gatbonton concluded that “popular art and the approved church style moved on different planes, like sublime and crude art. Despite ecclesiastical displeasure, the probity and simplicity of the local folk’s intention and faith account for the prodigious number of holy images carved in the popular secular style.”[27]

Architecture fit for Islamic and Christian beliefs and devotion

Vintage photos in Simunul island of the oldest mosque constructed in the Philippines reveal a square wooden structure with a tamoran (pyramidal two-tiered roof) surmounted by a thin pillar of a tower. The tower is echoed in old photographs of the mosque at Taraka, Lanao. Both images suggest a Hindu-Javanese influence. Abstract motifs decorate the horizontal projections from the tiered roofs that allow central air ventilation to come through the edifice, which was built close to the ground. The main floor is not raised, perhaps as an “architectural expression of the essence of Islamic worship, which is submission to the will of Allah.”[28] Early masjids (mosques) were necessarily built near rivers and coasts to facilitate access to water during ritual ablutions.

The old mosque of Taraka, Lanao, which was built in a pagoda-style reminiscent of Hindu-Javanese style

Scholars like Nagasura Madale believed that the pagoda-like structures could also suggest strong Chinese influence, partly due to traders who had settled in the region. Eventually, the onion-shaped dome paired with a minaret replaced the pagoda style, representing a stylistic evolution that filtered from Arabia and India after local elite had started returning from Mecca. The environmental dependence of the mosque precluded its incorporation as the primary feature of an urbanscape, hence it was located in more bucolic areas as observed by architectural historian Fr. Winand Klassen, SVD, who pointed out the initial nomadic aspect of the host culture.

Unlike the Western-style masjid characterized by a patio, enclosed walls (sahn), and prayer hall (musalla), the local counterpart consisted of a square, single-story edifice surmounted by a rising tiered roof. The overflow of congregants simply sat on benches on the perimeter of the masjid while waiting their turn to ingress. In smaller towns, more modest prayer halls called in Tausug or Yakan as langgal or ranggar in Maranao were built. These early religious structures were built with ephemeral or organic materials, emphasizing their harmony with nature. Its main characteristic was governed by the Muslim concept of space, which aligned to the focal point of Mecca, the most sacred site of Islam. Interior decorations tended toward the spare and the abstract, with the use of repeating geometries of calligraphic scrolls or vegetal motifs, thus emphasizing a meditative vacuity governed by the abstraction of patterns derived from nature.[29]

In contrast, Spanish churches were conceived to dominate urban conglomerations. San Agustín Church in Intramuros deserves special mention, being a World Heritage site and the only religious edifice in Manila that has withstood all major earthquakes.[30] Its construction utilized inverted vaulting for its foundations, which acts in the same way as the hull of a boat when it withstands the shock of waves. These structures were embedded halfway into the ground as were the perimeter walls directly above them, thereby turning the church into an eggshell structure with the construction of a continuous, enclosed space. However, this design compromised the possibility of puncturing the exterior walls with windows, resulting in very dark interiors. Such seismic precautions did not even allow its media naranja (half) dome to sport spaces for windows, which led to poor illumination over the altar.[31]

The Spanish soldier-architect Juan Macías finished San Agustin’s construction, completing the monastery by 1604 and the church in 1607.[32] The monastery, the largest architectural element of the complex, featured open patios surrounded by the friars’ living quarters, a chapel, and storerooms. According to Klassen, the church’s plan eschewed the classical design of a basilica: a central nave flanked by two side aisles. Instead the church has a large vaulted central nave with small and large side chapels buttressed by load-bearing side walls.

Notable is the church’s double-tower façade, which Klassen likened to that of Il Gesù (1568–1584) or Sant’atanasio Church in Rome. The left tower is now gone after the 1863 earthquake. Another architectural historian, Pedro Luengo, did not discern the church’s antecedent in Il Gesù, but rather in San Pablo church in Valladolid (1445–1616), especially with the positioning of its side chapels with their ribbed vaulting. The revelation of some of San Agustin’s original polychrome preserved above the choir stalls also strongly suggested “a Baroque construction intimately related with Mexican works.”[33]

The austere façade is a continuous wall surface broken up by non-structural elements that were layered with half columns, piers, cornices, and pediments. Four sets of twinned colonnades frame the entrance—two lower Ionic and two upper Corinthian columns—which frame the triangular pediment that is punctured by a small rose window. Floriated wooden doors and two sets of seventeenth-century Chinese fu dogs serve as multi-cultural guardians and lighten up this rather severe façade.

The construction of churches throughout the Philippines was achieved by “ecclesiastical motivation, government encouragement, and local participation.”[34] Permission was needed from the civil government in order to for a town to be granted a license for building a church. Funds were petitioned by secular priests and the religious orders from their royal patron, the Spanish king who acted as the Vice Patron of the church in the Indies and who was made responsible by the pope for subsidizing clerical salaries, expenses, and monumental works for its evangelization.

However, in the early period of evangelization, many of the building processes were improvised on. For example, the study of the archival documents with regard to the construction of the Santos Reyes church dedicated to the Chinese ministry in the Parián (Chinatown) revealed that the local Sangleyes (Chinese residents) were involved in the construction of a wooden church, and for other monuments such as the Hospital de San Gabriel, they helpsed subsidize its expenses.[35]

Regalado Trota José surveyed the libros de cargo y data (church debit and credit accounts), inventarios of donations, and presupuestos (budget project plans) of nineteenth-century Cavite parishes. These revealed that all projected expenses had to receive prior episcopal approval. Once an initial subsidy had been royally or civilly obtained, parish curates then hired non-Spanish artisans, who were then helped with tax exemptions, and native labor, polistas (compulsory laborers), and peones (workmen) were compensated with wages, food, and even amenities such as tobacco and buyo (betel nut chew).

Fr. Galende in his study of the façades of major stone churches during this period concluded that many of their characteristics can be classified as belonging to a Philippine adaptation of Baroque style. This style was generally characterized by its focus on an exuberant façade with floriated details (Miag-ao, Paete); a manipulation of mass-and-shadow effects with the use of projecting and recessed masses such as columns with niches and recessed portals (Laoag, Candon, and San Vicente in the Ilocos); buttressing of exterior side walls (Paoay); and plain attention given to interior side walls in order to direct churchgoers’ attention to the rich ornamentation of the main retablo altar (Bohol).[36]

Paoay Church, a World Heritage site, originally built in 1686, has massive volutes that end in stupa-like finials
(Micah Noel PerpetuaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Regalado Trota José characterized the Philippine style as having departed from the European models, which he enumerated as follows: a reliance on simple rectangular floor plans (iglesia de camarín or warehouse church), which eschewed cruciform additions, side chapels, or side aisles; lower ceiling heights to ensure seismic stability; graduated, octagonal belltowers that were built separately at a distance; defensive constructions against piratical raids; exterior surfaces that are stuccoed against monsoonal rains; selective and idiosyncratic use of foreign elements; low-relief decorative carving; and vegetal ornamentation of stone surfaces. Notwithstanding these self-imposed restrictions, Philippine church architecture also displayed its own brand of fierce self-expression through the freewheeling admixture of elements of European aesthetic styles such as the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo with the Chinese and purely indigenous, such as volutes, Solomonic columns, Doric and Ionian orders of colonnades, Renaissance strap work, fu dogs, and palm leaf motifs.[37]

It must be emphasized that not every native chose to be evangelized or “reduced” to Spanish settlements bajo la campana (within the sound of the bells). Resistance also took the form of fleeing to the mountains to live in freedom as vagamundos (vagabonds), reverting to animist religion as remontados in the mountains, or joining in tumultos (mass uprisings), with one occurring as early as the 1600s in connection with the populace’s devotion to “sacriligeous paintings.”[38]

The development of Islamic, Spanish Philippine, and local architecture

Writing in 1549, the Spanish historian of the Indies, Francisco López de Gómara, opined that “whoever does not found a town will not have a good conquest, and if you do not conquer the land, the natives will not be converted. Thus the maxim: to conquer, found a town.”[39] Spanish monarchs decreed that towns would be established throughout their realm. Felipe II issued “Ordenanzas sobre descubrimiento nuevos y población”  in 1573 to entice locals to abandon their scattered riverine or coastal settlements.[40] Missionaries and colonists gathered the natives into reducciones (reductions) or well-ordered and situated towns that had been laid out in a cuadrícula or gridiron form. Streets were laid through the urban fabric a cordel y regla or in a straight and measured way to create a square-like plan with the main plaza or town center as its literal heart. Townspeople were to be sited close to the urban center by placing them within hearing of churchbells, literally bajo de la campana.

Colonial planners during the Baroque era strove for grandeza, a visual affect that tended toward grandeur with the building of durable European-style structures.[41] They privileged the solidity of stone and sited the most visually imposing building, usually the church, to serve as the anchor of a plaza. Adjacent to this was built a town hall (ayuntamiento) or other government edifices called the tribunal or municipio. Church-dominated-plaza complexes epitomized Manila, and soon its influence extended to the rest of the archipelago. The prevalent Baroque style tied into the grandeza affect, impelling Spanish missionaries, by way of their previous Novohispanic mission experience, to endow churches and conventos with scale and grandiosity in order to demonstrate to the indios “the utmost grandeur outwardly so that the native might recognize the majesty of the deity by the exterior.”[42] Twinning Spanish Christianity with European urbanity was “a function of the explicitly material sub-stratum of Greek-Latin-Christian civilizing processes.”[43]

Prior to this and in contrast to the heavily materialistic culture of other Hispanic cities, Maynila and Cebu, the largest local polities at the time of Spanish contact were what Robert Reed called “supra-barangay.” They were aggrupations of an entrepôt with several large barangay, each ruled by its own chief who was linked to others through alliances. The Cebu supra-barangay lay dispersed along the coast, for example, and when the Spanish colonizer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived, the inhabitants simply gave way after he had occupied the original nucleus of their settlements, the site of Fort San Pedro today. Maynila was also dispersed between Tondo on the north bank of the Pasig and the kota or the local fort located opposite it, on the south side of the Pasig and the estuary of Manila Bay, over which the Spanish built their ciudad murada or walled city of Intramuros.[44]

The architecture of the highlands provided a stark contrast. The famed rice terraces of northern Luzon led some to speculate that they are millennia old. Latter-day researchers such as Stephen Acabado favor a more recent dating to about the time of Spanish colonization, meaning they were built as a response to encroaching Western civilization. If so, they stand as monumental evidence of how fleeing lowland communities responded to and resisted foreign incursion.[45] Although terrace architecture can be simplified as carving giant steps that follow the contour of a mountain with its attendant design of intensive and sophisticated hydraulic systems, the community organization entailed in this construction did not lead to the development of a city-state complex as had occurred in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Reflecting on earlier studies, Klassen concluded “that the most extensive rice irrigation system in the world was built and operated without the central control of a city-state government.”[46] Rather than highly institutionalized and hierarchical political systems that governed the construction and maintaining of the terraces, it was the local Cordilleran societies that mustered the sociopolitical organization, workforce, and capital to sustain the megastructures.[47]

In contrast to pre-Hispanic highland vernacular architecture, towns in the Islamicized south developed in a different socioeconomic and cultural environment. While coastal or riverine Muslim towns shared the basic idiom of “floating” or raised houses built of light organic material for ordinary people, they also developed two other types of architectural styles distinct to their culture: a form evolved for the house of a datu or sultan (torogan among the Maranao) that was embellished and enriched with a panoply of surface decorations. Another type was developed for religious purposes, such as the mosque, whose roofline evolved from the tiered pagoda style to the current form of a minaret and dome.

Model of Torogan house of the Maranao people at Cockington Green Gardens
(Maksym Kozlenko, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In his study of Islamic vernacular architecture in the Philippines, Klassen found out that, unlike the central role of plazas in Hispanic urban conglomerations, Muslim towns tended to be more dispersed with the mosque, the sultan’s residence, and ordinary houses not necessarily clustered around a center. In addition, the house of a datu or elite family was not solely a dwelling place, but also used as a ceremonial center. Gerard Lico identified more modest housing structures such as the mala-a-walai (large hourse) and its diminutive version, the lawig. The latter could simply be a hut on stilts with an interior hearth that is sited on a field, while the former could consist of a larger raised house on stilts with a single room and a larger common space that was built by a wealthier family. [48]

Intramuros and the many Manilas

Founded in 3 June 1571 on the ruins of the fortress of Rajah Soliman, Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi established Manila as the capital of the new Spanish colony. During the first decade, Spanish colonists demonstrated that they understood the basics of vernacular architecture by constructing church and civil edifices with indigenous materials, which were generally described as being of “caña y nipa” (cane and nipa palm), which hardly described the extraordinary wealth of other available materials such as hardwoods and fiber. Dried nipa palm leaves were used for thatching roofs as well as for wall sidings. Caña referred to the bamboo cane used as harigue (posts) and supports in a structure. These indigenous post-and-lintel constructions were used actively up through the nineteenth century, and thirty-two architectural typologies were derived from them.[49]

So prevalent was this native architecture in the Spanish colony that even the first cathedral of Manila was constructed of humble organic material. However, after the fires of 1581 and 1583 had quickly leveled that church as well as the early wooden fortress, Governor-General Santiago de Vera ordered the city to be built of stone after his arrival on 25 May 1584.[50] Central to this project was the establishment of stone quarries in nearby locations like Guadalupe (Makati) or San Mateo (Rizal).[51] The defense of the fledgling city was undertaken by Governor-General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, assisted by the Jesuit architect Antonio Sedeño. They envisioned Intramuros as a palisaded fortress that stood as a sentinel at the entrance of the Pasig River. Enclosed completely by a parapeted wall and anchored at the river’s entrance by the Fuerza Santiago, this fortress city was punctuated with revetments, bulwarks, and towers. Its construction necessitated the coordination of natives felling timber, hewing quarries in Guadalupe (Makati), Meycauayan, and San Mateo for blocks of stone, making bricks, and laying stone such that the ramparts were quickly completed as reported by Antonio de Morga in 1609.[52]

Manila was not actually meant to be represented only by Intramuros, city of the colonist and the elite, but by a series of many adjoining settlements segregated by ethnicity. This was because the Iberian sense of urbanity was much influenced by a policy of segregating a city’s diverse residents according to their bloodline and social status, a practice that had developed out of Spanish medieval culture when many of their own cities developed separate urban settlements for the morería and judería (Moorish and Jewish quarters). Manila was likewise conceived as an ethnicity-based urban landscape, necessitating the establishment of a Japanese town (Dilaoor yellow), the Chinese Parián, and villages for the local-born.[53]

However, this uneasy convivencia (living together) was also easily overcome by suspicion and threats, especially with the rising influx of Chinese immigrants who brought their own ways of life and beliefs. The Spanish regarded the non-baptized ones as infieles (unbelievers) and viciosísimos (most vile), and official rhetoric condemned them for their vices, especially that of their alleged practice of sodomy that threatened to infect the morals of Spaniards and Indios. So violent was the Spanish anti-sodomitical discourse that a Chinese book of the time, Tung Shih yang k’ao (Eastern and Western Sea Pilot), warned that Chinese who were suspected of this practice in Luzon could be condemned to die at the stake.[54] Manila was thus thought to pioneer “the forced separation of urban Asians, but it also gave birth to a kind of anti-homosexual segregation too.”[55]

The emergence of arquitectura mestiza

Already by the 1650s, the colonial contact zones in and outside the city walls had been clearly delineated in what could be possibly the first urban painting of Manila that is presently conserved on a chest lid in the Museo de Arte José Luis Bello y González in Puebla, Mexico. The completion of Intramuros’ inner fabric as well as the locations of the different arrabales (districts) can also be verified in the oldest city plan made in 1671 by Fr. Ignacio Muñoz.[56]

What these pictorial depictions did not document, however, was the subtle change to the affect of grandeza and firmitas after the devastating earthquake of 1645. The Philippines’ premier church Manila Cathedral became emblematic of the response of architecture and urban design to environmental realities when it was destroyed on 30 November 1645 by an earthquake so fierce that “the earth began to quake so violently that it seemed as if it would become a sepulcher for all the inhabitants. […] Nothing was heard but the crash of buildings mingled with the clamor of voices entreating heaven for mercy. The cathedral was totally destroyed, towers, roofs, chapels, and even the foundations were overthrown.”[57]

Possibly due to dislocation and trauma, it would take seventeen years for its fourth incarnation to rise again. The cathedral’s remodeler, Italian Fr. Juan de Ugoccioni, infused the façade with the early Baroque splendor of the famous Jesuit church Il Gesù in Rome with its simplified spiraling volutes and a double colonnade of columns.[58] Its belfry and tower were located at a distance in order to avoid having it collapse into the building, which the Sangley master mason Dionisio Saplan was credited for.[59] When it was leveled to the ground in 1863, it was rebuilt in 1879 with a mix of Revivalist syles that quoted Orientalist Byzantine and Romanesque elements, its silhouette continuing to dominate Manila’s landscape.

The great earthquake of 1645 caused not only the destruction of 150 of the city’s most important buildings, it also change architectural designs as an adaptation to the environmental realities. Aspirations to loftiness and grandeza were compromised with squatter forms and the return to the use of wood to serve as internal load-bearing buttresses of wall structures. Bell towers were made lower and removed from the immediate church vicinity, and heavy timber trusses to support roof tiles were eschewed in favor of lighter wooden beams that rested on a series of wood struts that echoed the harigues of vernacular architecture.[60]

In domestic architecture, the response to the realities of the seismic environment is clearly seen from the rise of arquitectura mestiza as termed by Fr. Ignacio Alzina in 1668, when he described a convento (priest’s residence) built of stone on the ground floor and of wood on the second. The oldest extant examples are an antique domicile in Majayjay, Laguna, and the former Jesuit residence—now the Museo de Parián—in Cebu built in 1730. For example, the widow Isabel Navarro de Piñero wrote a report in 1699 describing her house as having adobe walls on the ground floor that measured 1.12 m thick with its upper floor built of wood and windows made of translucent capiz shells. This bipartite structure represented the quintessential features of the bahay na bato (house of stone):[61] the firmitas of Spanish building style merged with a local architectural style adapted to a seismic and tropical environment.  

Hispano-Filipino firmitas, printing, visuality, and Arabic calligraphy

Spanish architecture mediated through Mexico gave rise to a new era of visuality. The firmitas associated with Hispanic architecture ushered in painting and sculpture as the attendant arts associated with the permanence imbued by stone and mortar.[62] Load-bearing walls and floors encouraged the display and embellishment of heavy sculpture and expanses of painted surfaces. Fr. René Javellana, SJ, wrote that, “painting and sculpture, as understood in the West, came with the colonial building. Architecture had to come first, logically, technologically, and chronologically.”[63]

The church was to become the public center of spirituality and visuality, a dictum that followed the Counter Reformation-era determination of deploying sculpture, painting, and printing to inspire and to instruct. To this end, the Spanish monarch gave the monopoly of printing books with engraved images to Flemish printer Christophe Plantin, thereby allowing Antwerp to dominate visual culture throughout the Hispanic empire. Flemish engravers led by the Galle, Wierix, Collaert, and Bolswert families augmented Plantin’s work in popularizing devotional images.

Plantin encouraged the Jesuits to publish Fr. Jerónimo Nadal’s Evangelicae historiae imagines (1593) with 153 engraved plates that subsequently circulated the world. These became “a kind of visual doxa, establishing a prototypical evangelical iconography transposed and adapted to different forms and in different media… especially in the Spanish world.”[64] Fr. Nadal himself believed that meditation occasioned by viewing images was “a pathway to faith and divine encounter.”[65]

As early as 1593, Dominican priests, aided by Juan de Vera, a Christianized Chinese artisan, introduced woodblock printing or xylography to issue the first books. Among these was the earliest book on Roman Catholic catechism, Doctrina Christiana en la lengua española y tagala, printed in Spanish and Tagalog using the local syllabary, which was also transliterated into the Roman alphabet. They also printed Shih-lu or “Discussion of the Right Doctrine, True Writings,” a philosophical treatise directed at converting the Chinese. They also issued a third text, a Doctrina Christiana in Chinese, which bore the name of the woodcutter and printer Keng-yong.[66]

The cover of the Tagalog Doctrina may be considered the one of the country’s first recorded iconographic images. It depicts Saint Dominic in the black robe of his order as he stands in a sparse landscape. In his right hand he holds a lily branch as a symbol of purity, while in his left is an open book. On the horizon, two churches peek out from the hills that rise around him. A halo topped by a star crowns his head and scroll-like clouds interrupt the hatched lines across the sky. Arabesque borders that repeat the fleur-de-lis motif frame the image. The aforementioned Shih-lu provided the earliest example of cross-cultural printed art. Its cover featured a similar Spanish-influenced image of Saint Dominic who holds out an open book as he greets a Chinese mandarin who makes a slight bow with his hands clasped inside his robe’s sleeves. A church and a three-level Chinese edifice with arched windows stand in the background. The perspective is flat. Instead of a viñeta or floriated border, a simple black bounding box with its lower half sectioned off with columns of characters encloses the image, its aesthetic design mimicking Chinese book printing conventions.

Cover of the Doctrina Christiana

A new era of printing in this country was inaugurated when Juan de Vera developed the first movable type or typographic press in Binondo.[67] Under the guidance of his mentor Fr. Francisco Blancas de San José, he printed the first typographically made book of the Philippines, Fr. Juan de Castro’s Ordinaciones Generales of 1604, which can be studied de visu at its location in the Library of Congress.[68] De Vera must have been also a pioneer artist because, as Dominican historian Diego de Aduarte reported, he “was not only a very devout man who prayed a lot and ensured that everyone in the house practiced devotion and heard Mass. He most frequented the church, which he studiously adorned with draperies and paintings, as he was knowledgeable of this art.” [69]

Diego Talanghay and Tomás Pinpín joined the duo in Abucay, Bataan, where the Dominicans had reinstalled the press. Pinpín became the first local author when he wrote a Tagalog book in 1610 to teach elementary Spanish, intending this book to help Filipinos navigate everyday dealings with the Spaniards.[70] Pinpín also helped print Blancas de San José’s masterwork, Arte y reglas de la lengua tagala, an outstanding codification of the Tagalog language. These early books were not only catechetical but also lexical works that aimed to “translate” the vernacular, as missionaries concluded that it would be easier to minister to the converts in their local languages, a policy that inadvertently preserved the latter’s indigenous cultures. Vicente Rafael wrote that this process of conversion and translation from Spanish into the vernacular was like a double-edged sword because it not only “shaped the terms of native surrender,” but it also “lent itself to the articulation of popular resistance to a colonizing power.”[71]

The advent of the press spurred the art of wood engraving, which is similar to xylography. Flat blocks of hardwood the size of a page were prepared with a paste of rice flurry upon which a previously rendered design on paper was impressed. The negative lines were then incised with a burin, the rest of the paper removed, and then the relief was inked. The lines that were cut out appeared uninked or white as opposed to the raised grooves that were inked as black. When metal became more available such as copper, a metallic sheet were then incised directly with a burin to create an intaglio plate for printing. This method allowed for precision, and metal engraving was subsequently employed for mapmaking and for book illustrations.[72]

By the early seventeenth century, numerous impresores (printers) became active, including Antonio Damba, Santiago Dimatangso, Domingo Loag, and Raymundo Magisa. With the proliferation of impresores and printing came the dissemination of images. Already in 1602, Manileños were treated to images of saints that were distributed on strips of paper on the feast of All Saints. Carved on wood and later engraved on copper, these images began as larger-sized estampas (prints) before appearing in smaller sizes as estampitas (holy cards).[73] The twin arts of printing and engraving were actively practiced within the first five decades of their debuts from 1593 to 1643 as can be seen from many of the covers of some of the first incunabula.

Thus, the extant printed books from the end of sixteenth century to the eighteenth century provide vital evidence of the “colonial shaping of Filipino thought, aesthetic, and craft.”[74] By the eighteenth century, colonial-era engraving had reached its zenith with the confluence of highly accomplished local practitioners, among them Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay (“Indio Tagalo”), Cipriano Romualdo Bagay (“Indus Manil”), Lorenzo Atlas, Francisco Suárez (“Indio Filipino”) and his son Luis, and Phelipe Sevilla.[75] Other prominent engravers were Juan Correa and his son, Jerónimo Correa de Castro, indicative perhaps of the taller or atelier system in which the arts were passed on by apprenticeship to a family member.

Some of these early engravings based themselves on famous European models and visual elements. For example, Nadal’s illustrated New Testament introduced pictorial techniques to local artists, such as the “picture within a picture” device. A clear example is the 1789 engraving of the Last Supper by Phelipe Sevilla where Jesus is espied through an oval frame as he sits at a table with the apostles in a room. Three windows are featured, one of which displays a vignette of Jesus’ own crucifixion as witnessed by Mary and John.[76]

Other European visual elements in these engravings include cross hatching, black-to-grey shading, a vanishing perspective, and the proliferation of European decorative motifs such as acanthus leaves, lily flowers, putti, classical pillars, scrollwork, and ornamental frames. Notwithstanding the preponderance of European influences, some local sensibilities shone through their work. In Lorenzo Atlas’s 1749 depiction of a double engraving of the Virgins of Makati and Antipolo, two venerated images in Jesuit custody, swirling clouds and exuberant curlicues—a form of horror vacui (fear of open space)—threaten to overwhelm the delicately featured Virgenes.

In secular art, the Jesuit author Pedro Murillo Velarde relied on two expert Tagalog engravers, Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay (c. 1701–c. 1790) and Francisco Suárez (active 1716–1760), to etch the copper plates for his Carta hydrográphica y chorográphica de las Islas Filipinas (1734). Cruz Bagay not only engraved the landmark map but also printed it. He noted this fact on its bottom right-hand in small type, “Lo esculpió Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay Indio Tagalo en Man. Año 1734,”[77] thus becoming the first of two self-identified Filipino artists. He can rightly be considered as the successor to the first local printer, Tomás Pinpín. Cruz Bagay is credited as the engraver of the two panels that contained six views of various inhabitants of the islands, predecessors of the tipos del pais genre. The delightful scenes depicted the Philippines as a polyglot, multi-ethnic space, where side by side could be found indios, Negro creoles, Negritos, Spanish peninsulars, Visayans, sangleyes, Chinese traders, Armenians, Indians, Mongols, Moluccans, and even kafirs (Africans).

Carta hydrográphica y chorográphica de las Islas Filipinas (1734) by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde.
Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Both National Artist Carlos Quirino, who wrote the first comprehensive treatise on Philippine cartography, and Spanish colonial art scholar Santiago Albano Pilar credited Bagay’s lesser-known counterpart, Francisco Suárez, as the engraver of two panels of six more accomplished vignettes that dealt with rural scenes and plans of Zamboanga, Manila, Guam, and Cavite, the four furthest-flung outposts of the extreme western reach of the Spanish colonial empire.[78] Thus both the map and accompanying vignettes constituted the finest merger of Hispano-Filipino science and arts, with the imagined geospatial rendering of Filipinas influencing cartographers to the present day.

Philippine engraving of secular subjects reached its zenith probably in the late eighteenth century with Lorenzo Atlas’s illustration of Aspecto symbolico del mundo hispánico. It accompanied Fr. Vicente de Memije’s 1761 doctoral thesis, Theses mathemáticas de Cosmographía, Geográphica e Hydrográphica, en que el globo terraqueo se contempla por respecto al mundo hispánico. The fact that it was not about a religious subject made it unusual as a work of art: the empire of Spain is allegorically represented as Hispania in the guise of the Immaculate Conception. From her head (the Iberian Peninsula) cascaded Spain’s various possessions, her robe portrays the Americas and the folds of her dress lists the Manila-Acapulco galleon routes. With surprising aplomb, the artist and the author proposed the unusual conception of the Philippines—the most distant and least important colony—as the foundation of the whole Spanish empire, by positioning the map of Las Islas Filipinas at Hispania’s feet.[79]

Both Christianity and Islam derive authority from the power of sacred texts, hence the need to read and explicate them. Whereas indigenously developed Indic-influenced writing systems were primarily used to share messages on bamboo nodes or palm leaf, Arabic writing developed to transcribe the Qur’an and record tarsila or genealogies, especially for rulers who sought to prove their direct descent from the line of Muhammad. A report in 1891 by Spanish scribe Juan Salcedo documented that in his travels in Muslim areas every village had a pandita (priest) who was dressed in white and had been a pilgrim to Mecca. The pandita read the Qur’an, some copies of which dated to the sixteenth century and today are considered bibliographic jewels. Arabic script was so flexible that its writing adapted easily to spell out the Malay, Tausug, Maranao, and Maguindanao languages. This led to the development of Jawi, Arabic writing that transcribed the phonetic sounds of the local languages, which was employed specifically for official documents and the tarsilas or genealogical accounts. This led to the supplanting of native writing systems and the emergence of this unique method of writing down the indigenous languages. The Sultanates also used Jawi script to communicate with the Spanish colonial authorities as Jawi was flexible enough that Spanish terms could be transcribed into it so that entire peace treaties were formalized in Jawi. Isaac Donoso concluded that “this phenomenon shows us that culture is somewhat mutable and in a constant flux of transformation. Arabic script was used “to write the Spanish language in Spain [Aljamiado] as well as on the other side of the Islamic world in the Philippines.”[80]

The multicultural magnificence of trans-oceanic ivories

The marked impassivity of wooden statues stood in sharp contrast to those carved in ivory that were finely detailed and highly sought after by the church and the elite. Elephant tusks from Africa and mainland Asia reached the country through the great maritime exchanges. Ivory carving was a highly developed art form in China and India even before the sixteenth century. It did not take long for Spanish colonizers to commission religious statues from ivory carvers in the main entrepôt cities of Manila, Goa, and Macao. Writing in 1590, the first bishop of Manila, Domingo Salazar, described the skills of Chinese ivory carvers who were unlike native craftsmen: “They have so perfected themselves in this art. […] with the Sangleyes’ ability to replicate those images from Spain, it should not be long when even those made in Flanders will not be missed.”[81] One of the earliest Hispanic-era ivories is a giant crucifix depicting Cristo Expirante (Christ in Expiration), one of the classic and most beloved models for ivory statues. Attributed to the same Juan de los Santos of the San Agustin retablo,[82] the work is heavily Europeanized in the treatment of the hair and body, notwithstanding its traditional style of ornamentation.

In a masterful study of more than 1,000 Hispano-Philippine ivories in Spanish and Mexican collections, Margarita Estella Marcos presented several ways of classifying and identifying carved ivory figures.[83] She traced the earliest Western influence on local ivory carvers to Flemish sculptures, of which the prime example was the Santo Niño de Cebu. Flemish engravings of the master engraver Christoph Plantin (1520–1589) also widely traveled through Asia and provided an influence.[84] Later, Spanish sculptures, such as the Christ Child and Madonna and Child were brought as exemplars, thus leading to the influence of the Spanish master sculptor, Juan Martínez Montañés, known as el Dios de la madera (the God of wood).

Filipino ivories have several distinguishing features. Behind the statues of the locally carved Blessed Virgin can be found the suksuk, a feature that shows Our Lady’s back robe tucked into her girdle. It is not clear why Philippine ivories have this unique characteristic. In early Philippine examples of the Madonna, her hair undulates in finely stranded locks, sometimes falling over the shoulders. Remarkable are her double chin and the fat fold of her eyelids, which is marked by a curve at both ends as well as her well-deserved corpulence, which was probably a mark of distinction. However, unlike realistic depictions of their Spanish models, Estella Marcos observed that “Philippine art repudiates blood and violence.”

Church sculpture and processional figures

Niches and chapels dedicated to devotions of Jesus, Mary, and the saints filled the façades and side aisles of the naves of the new Hispanic churches. These spaces called for images in the round to engage the new converts, particularly for wooden retablos or altar screens. Juan de los Santos, a sacristan and exemplary Christian, carved a magnificent retablefor San Agustín church in 1617.[85] Reaching, a height of more than seven meters, it had four rows of colonnaded niches, each one ensconcing a saint. The central niche was topped by a scallop-shaped half arc that simulated the rays of a halo, while its top featured a broken half arc with undulating tendrils. The retablo eschewed heavy Baroque ornamentation in favor of a more restrained style, relying on the repetition of the half-shelled arched niches and the Ionic columns to give it a symmetrical and more austere look. However, the church’s pulpit took the opposite tack. Carved in 1627, it was suspended off the ground and festooned with floriated columns and masses of arabesque scrolls on its enclosing panels.

Some retablos may be classified according to their period styles. Besides the Renaissance-type altarpiece of Juan de los Santos, now in the San Agustín museum, the side altars of Maragondon Church fall under the same style. Examples of Baroque and Rococo retablos may be found in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu and in the churches of Binangonan in Laguna and Silang in Cavite.[86]

Stone churches also featured sculpted reliefs on their façades. Built in 1686, Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, a World Heritage site, recalls ancient Southeast Asian temples with its massive volutes. Its stone carvers imparted the church with with tapering finials that recall the tops of stupas. The only ornamentation on the façade are six pilasters that frame the sides and the main portal. Charming carved medallions, the init-tao or sun god, and stylized scroll-like clouds punctuate the massiveness of piled stone. Fernando Zóbel deemed the church as “one of the finest and most exuberant examples of ‘earthquake Baroque.’”[87]

In Weaving Cultures, Fr. René Javellana Javellana added that “lavishness and opulence were the trademarks of the art of this period. Manila was not far behind. The Baroque excess found a home in Manila, and Manila of the seventeenth century had the means to support such extravagance.”[88] The sudden wealth brought to the city by the boom in the galleon trade and Manila’s subsequent rise as cosmopolitan and global entrepôt spurred and sustained these celebrations. Ramón Zaragoza evoked in particular the extravagance of feasts in the Spanish enclave of Intramuros, where they assumed a “mystic, monastic ambience” and became “the center of religious fiestas in the country. The churches and houses were beautifully decorated, triumphal arches and public entablados or open-air public theatres were erected, streets and government buildings decorated and brightly illuminated. The festivities ended with a solemn procession of many richly decorated silver andas and carrozas or floats containing life-size images of saints dressed in intricately gold-embroidered clothes and bejeweled in diamonds and other precious stones… The evening processions offered the splendor of thousands of flickering candles in the night carried by light-bearers.”[89]

Santiago Pilar’s periodization of painting styles

Pilar offered a periodization of styles that could be used to “apply to all forms of the visual arts.” He based his classification on a survey of more than 2,000 colonial paintings as well as on the continuity of the graphic tradition in the sculptural arts, wherein he traced the genealogy of iconography that traveled from print to three-dimensionality.[90] The earliest strand of the “urban style” of art was what he dubbed the neophyte convert or proselyte style, which lasted from 1565 until around the 1730s when artists, lacking instruction, explored individual expressions as they focused on drawing out the subject through “spontaneous stylization.”

The formal style of urban art corresponded to the period from the 1740s to 1800, which was “characterized by a self-consciousness in configuration, a projection of the desire of the artists to show their understanding of the forms of Western art,” resulting in rigid and formal poses and the self-conscious appropriation of Western models, possibly in defiance of the norms of the painters’ Chinese ancestors.[91] The next periodization was the naturalistic style that relied on miniaturismo or miniaturist technique, which espoused working “every detail of the subject [that was] rendered meticulously by a fine layering of colors,” requiring fidelity to a naturalistic verisimilitude adhering to Western standards.[92] This influence was very much demonstrated in the tipos del país (types of the country) tradition, which were influenced by similar art being done in international ports in China and had reached Manila in the 1790s.[93] The last stage was the classical realist style that began with the formalist training introduced by Western-influenced schools, like the Academia de Dibujo, the first school of Western art in Asia, which was placed under the administration of Damián Domingo in 1823.[94]  

In addition, Pilar offered in several later studies a more detailed typology of folk art, which he defined as “highly independent of the urban sensibility.” Thus he identified location-based artists, who nonetheless remain unnamed until now. For example, in examining iconographic representations found in the Visayas, he identified several variants of the Bohol School, based on the highly distinctive strokes of master artists. Thus there was a master of the Guanyin style, as well as an 1830 master, and masters of the Round Faces, the Raised Eyebrows, and the Chiseled Nose.[95]

In surveying this panoply of proposed styles, Patrick Flores observed that “the typologies of Zóbel and Pilar deserve further analysis,” noting that “both strategies may be read as allegories of colonization, beginning with innocence, terracing into cultivation, and languishing as decadence” and ran the perils of “a limited consideration of form and may, in fact, be prone to the perils of typification.”[96] He proffered that the diverse analytic strands suggested by the eminent Latin American art historian Pál Kelemen could provide for a more fully wrought out analysis of colonial art. For example, Kelemen observed that “the sources of the Philippine style were plural” due to the multitude of countries from where the missionaries had come, including Germany, Bohemia, and even French Catalonia or the Basque Country. Thus, “all these diluted the taste of the Spanish colony and brought with them the preferences and traditions of their native lands.”[97]

In fact, this hybridity was not denigrated by Kelemen, who also saw a similar evolution in other Latin American countries, ascribing an “originality” to this development. Like Zóbel, Kelemen also pointed to the larger influence of China when he remarked: “When we take into consideration that the Bodhisattva was gilded and equipped with a kind of encarnación, the way from a religion 550 years older than Christianity… is a short one—especially in a region where the older faith is still a living spiritual force.” Flores concurred with Kelemen that “this could only mean that colonial form is not inert, wrought once and for all by diffusion or imitation.”[98]

The earliest “official” or “proselyte” paintings

Spanish Franciscan Father Antón de Alcántara is recorded as having limned the earliest painting in the proselyte style, that is, a work meant to become the technical and stylistic model for local artists. He painted The Chinese Rebels Storming the Walled City in 1603 around 1684 for the Franciscans in Intramuros. Santiago Pilar reported that the artwork, comprised of several wooden panels joined by pegs and measuring overall 2.6 by 2 m, was destroyed in World War II, but a magazine reproduction has survived. Pilar observed that the friar had deliberately eschewed linear perspective in favor of an isometric one in order to repeat the image of the protagonist, St. Francis of Assisi, in two picture fields of the same painting.[99] On the left frame, St. Francis receives the stigmata, while on the right, the saint miraculously appears to drive away the Chinese rebels, here depicted with Lilliputian proportions. The colors are flat and the figures linear. In the San Agustín Museum are several paintings of Augustinian saints executed in the same style: Diptych of Ven. Fr. Joseph Parada and Ven. Fr. Joseph Ramos as well as Diptych of Ven. Fr. Juan de Vega and Ven. Archbishop Juan de Castro. [100]

The Chinese Rebels Storming the Walled City (1603)
Philippine Magazine, August 1929. Front cover illustration. Image from public domain.

Not all paintings were executed on wood or metal panels. Some, like those found in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century vestry and refectory of the San Agustín monastery in Manila, were directly painted on ceilings and walls, in this case using a chromatic spectrum of black, white, rust red, and sienna. Regalado Trota José described these paintings as “a series of intricately linked strapwork-like motifs, somewhat reminiscent of the wall paintings of sixteenth-century Mexican convents. Those in the refectory feature the anagrams of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, all enclosed in escutcheons and decorated with swags and garlands.”[101]

Some painted images are found in colored and illuminated manuscripts, an example of which is the two-volume Anales Eccesiásticos de Philipinas of the Arzobispado de Manila, dated 1682, the year it was completed by the archbishopric dean Miguel Ortiz de Cobarruvias.[102] This is a bound manuscript filled with hand-drawn colored illustrations of embellished capital letters that cleverly incorporate the figures of the bishops of Manila, their coat of arms, churches, saints, popes, scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary, funeral biers, galleons and even Chinese uprisings. Conservator Maita Maronilla-Reyes identified the pigments and dyes used for its illustration as lead chromate, ultramarine, and aniline dyes, all of which were imported.[103]

The rise of secular, scientific, and Western academic style painting

Certainly, the oldest extant secular paintings executed in the Philippines are on rice paper and date to around 1598. These consist of ninety-eight charming watercolor illustrations of inhabitants of the Philippines, Southeast and East Asia, and the Pacific, as well as Chinese gods, mythical beasts, and paired representatives from the different tributary kingdoms of the Celestial Kingdom.[104] The illustrations were gilded in gold and elaborated in the style of illuminated European manuscripts. These were bound into what would be known as the Boxer Codex, a late sixteenth-century manuscript written at the behest of Governor-General Luis Pérez Dasmariñas.

Professor Charles R. Boxer, the manuscript’s former owner, concluded from the paper, inks, paints, and preferred subjects that the drawings had been executed by a Chinese artist based in Manila. The artist likely worked under the supervision of a European, as can be gleaned from the two types of decorated borders—the first, consisting of undulating floriated tendrils edged at the corners with birds, bees, and mongooses as mascots, and the second type consisting purely of Persian or Indian-influenced arabesques, an example of cross-cultural artistic styles.[105]

The earliest secular example of landscape art is found in the inside of a chest cover now in Puebla, Mexico, transported there via the galleons. It is the first depiction of the walled city of Intramuros and the extramuros of Parián and Bagumbayan. Executed between 1650 and 1660, the oil painting depicts a newly risen city after the devastating earthquake of 1645. Intricately detailed with hundreds of civil and religious edifices, the image is dominated by the ramparts of the ciudad murada that Governor-General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas established in 1592. In the lower right corner and already part of the landscape is the Parián, or the Chinese quarters located within the city walls, showing locals worshipping in front of a cross, a hint of the peaceful convivencia (living together) among Intramuros’s multi-ethnic groups.

During much of the eighteenth century, black-and-white prints had been the focus of much secular art, especially in the field of cartography. This emphasis on empiricism was further engendered by  the Enlightenment reforms of the Spanish Bourbon king Carlos III (r. 1759–1788), who had encouraged interest in economics, science, and the arts. A turning point in the history of Philippine art was the king’s decree of 1 May 1785, allowing all subjects of the Spanish empire to exercise their artistic professions without need of prior official approval, thus loosening the hold of ecclesiastical authorities in the field of creative expression.[106]

In Manila the far-sighted Governor-General José Basco y Vargas established in 1781 the Real Sociedad Ecónomica de Amigos del País (Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country), which became the vanguard of Spanish enlightenment thought. This was followed in 1785 by the Real Compañía de Filipinas, which was set up to promote export crop cultivation and the direct trade of the Philippines with Spain, bypassing the circuitous galleon routes that linked Acapulco to Manila. To accomplish this objective, the monarch sent out an order “to collect all the plants and precious bodies… to fill the [Royal] Garden and the Gabinete de Historial Natural.” The Spanish botanist Juan de Cuéllar arrived in the Philippines to catalogue Philippine flora, in the process commissioning the earliest still-lifes by Filipino scientific illustrators, José Loden, Tomás Nazario, and Miguel de los Reyes, who worked from 1786 to 1806.[107]

Carlos III’s series of reformist measures was arrested by the ascent of Carlos IV and Fernando VII, whose retrograde reigns set back the cause of liberal reformism. However, when Napoleon invaded Spain, the monarchy fell. The Hispanic American colonies rose up to claim their independence, even as the Spanish Cortes passed the first liberal constitution of 1812, which promised equal rights for both Spaniards and colonized peoples. But it was too late, and the tidal wave of successive wars of independence in the Americas soon led to Spanish colonies deserting the empire by the mid-nineteenth century. But by the time that Fernando VII regained his throne by overturning the promises of the 1812 Constitution, he was left only with the peripheries of empire—the far-flung Philippines and island colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. He thus ordered an empire-wide celebration by having his royal visage visit his last outposts, where he desired a public demonstration of their continued loyalty. According to art historian Ninel Valderrama Negrón, Manila was to be “hoisted as a faithful city and, at the same time, as an example of a stronghold for the insurgent viceroyalties where the monarchy sought to heighten the loyalty and fidelity of these domains with visual representations that showed that they belonged to the Empire.”[108]

The king commanded esteemed royal painter Vicente López  to execute a life-sized oil portrait, which was hand-carried by incoming Governor-General Mariano Ricafort on 9 October 1825 to the Ayuntamiento of Manila as “as a remuneration to its constant fidelity to the government.” Manila then spent two months preparing for the image’s public unveiling and reception so that it could be received “as though it was His Majesty himself.” The city government ordered the most lavish citywide feast, commissioning artists and craftsmen to spruce up Manila for a royal celebration.

Documented in an album of twenty-five watercolors, this occasion marked for the first time the summit of secular patronage in the artistic life of the colony. In it we discover the names of the artists, Tomás Cortés, Antonio Chacón y Conde, Vicente Anastasio de Castro, and Celedonio Ocampo, Spaniards and Filipinos. The illustrations are valuable as a document of early nineteenth-century iconographic traditions, which merged both Spanish and Chinese emblems of power: pagodas and a throne room to hold the Vicente López portrait of the king with the double hemispheres that were symbolic of the reach of the empire. Thus, the syncretism of these icons was meant to symbolize the king’s ardent desire to regain his old empire of two worlds in an exercise of imperial nostalgia.

The rise of Damián Domingo and private art patronage

The Spanish engineer and architect Tomás Cortes was pivotal to the successful celebration of one of Manila’s most lavish feasts. He arrived in the Philippines in 1816 as part of the corps of engineers and was a supporter of the Real Sociedad Económica as well as of the Academia de Dibujo, the first Philippine art school, to which he donated art supplies.[109] Cortes came at the end of a long line of previous eighteenth-century military engineers who had fostered architectural and scientific illustration in the colony, among whom were Juan de Ciscara y Ramírez  (active 1705–1718); the art professor and miniaturist Tomás de Castro y Andrade (a. 1732–1759), Miguel Antonio Gómez (a. 1759–1769); and Dionisio O’Kelly y Burke (a. 1769–1779), who served four consecutive governors-general.[110]

During this early nineteenth century, there were already several acknowledged local painters. One of the more senior ones was Chinese mestizo Faustino Quíotan (ca. 1770–1825) from Santa Cruz, Manila.[111] To Luciano Santiago, Quíotan was like Giotto in Western art, standing as a bridge between the old and new modes of painting, literally going from the “statue-paintings of earlier artists” and rejecting “the unreal rendition of human figures with aloof faces and stylized stances. If not the first, he was one of the first Filipino artists to depict feelings in his subjects.” Quíotan may have also tutored other contemporaries of Domingo, such as Antonio Assumpción (1794–1849), Juan Serapio Nepomuceno (1794–ca. 1850), Hilarión Soriano (ca. 1795–ca. 1845), and Juan Arzeo (ca. 1795–ca. 1865). Most active between the 1820s and the 1840s, Arzeo became known for his life-size portraits of his art patrons, who were ecclesiastical authorities or scions of prominent families, as well as for numerous religious paintings. This large-scale representation stood in contrast to Domingo’s miniaturist or easel-size works. Instead of naturalism, which was the dominant style of Domingo, Arzeo exhibited in his works a certain “reality of estampitas,”[112] which imbued his works with more symbolic associations.

Recognized by Spaniards and Filipinos, the foremost painter of this era was a Chinese mestizo, Damián Domingo (1796–1834), whose expertise was in high demand for the festivities of 1825. Previously he ran his own private art school at his residence in Tondo. His situation changed dramatically when “the royally initiated festivity in 1825 led to the fusion of Don Damián’s efforts with that of the Academia de Dibujo because the economic society was jolted into the realization that ‘their art school was in dismal need of a competent artist and a pedagogue.’”[113] The Academia had been previously established on paper on 8 March 1820, but remained inactive until it was inaugurated on 2 December 1823 to become the pioneer Western-style art school in all of Asia.

Self portrait (1830s) of Damián Domingo (ca. 1790 – ca. 1832)
Damian Domingo was an era-defining artist whose school invigorated the
Philippine art world of the early nineteenth century.

On 5 March 1827 the academia reached an agreement with Domingo regarding its regulations. One of the most remarkable provisions of that time was that the school allowed anyone, “regardless of whether he be Spaniard, mestizo, or indio, as long as there is room and they present themselves decently and at the proper time.” Carlos Quirino, Domingo’s first major biographer, wrote that this provision for open acceptance regardless of race must have been inserted upon the insistence of the liberal-minded Domingo.[114] Students were taught anatomy, linear perspective, painting in different media such as oil and aquarelle, still life, and even decoration and plaster work. The school published its first textbook, Elementos de perspectiva[115] (Elements of Perspective), over which Domingo probably exercised some editorial control. Surprisingly most of its chapters deal with the fundamentals of architecture and not with painting or illustration,[116] revealing the belief at that time that these fields were merely allied arts of architecture.

Thus began the dichotomy between artists who were homegrown in the folk or iconic tradition and those who were formed in the academe and the aesthetics of Europe. Those academically trained were to be favored with public commissions for works that would embellish “stately functions and civic-oriented popular celebrations,”[117] such as official portraits to be hung on bamboo triumphal arches. When Domingo died prematurely in 1834 at the tender age of forty, he left behind his students, who also earned some renown such as Ambrocio and Leoncio Asunción, Estevan Nepomuceno Transfiguración, Isidro Arzeo, and Antonio Malantic.

Fashion, gender, and social hierarchies

Domingo was unique among pioneer Filipino artists for having depicted both religious and secular subjects in three genres of painting: religious paintings, portraiture, and albums of tipos del país (types of the country) that appealed to foreign visitors of the colony. These miniaturist works were “executed in a fine and very precise style,”[118] usually with extremely thin sable brushes of a single hair that called for virtuosity in representing the various natives of the country according to their dress, ethnicity, and rank. The 2007 inaugural exhibition of the new Ayala Museum, entitled Multiple Originals, Original Multiples,[119] reunited the original Domingo album of the Newberry Library as well as Ayala Museum’s own set of Domingo-atelier works, thus inviting scrutiny and challenging viewers with questions of authenticity and replication. The Newberry and Ayala albums differ in size, with the signed album measuring close to 30 cm high, almost double the size of the Ayala album. A study of their style and technique also revealed that the Newberry album most likely served as the source from which multiple originals were derived.

The tradition of tipos del país can be traced to the late eighteenth century when Chinese artists started painting typical scenes of their country using gouache and pith paper to sate the demand of foreign travelers for lighter, more durable, and brilliant souvenir images. In Manila, Domingo, as well as Espiridión de la Rosa (ca. 1815–ca. 1865), became the premier artists of such albums from the 1820s. The tipos del país followed a set convention of representing not only fashion but also gender and social hierarchies that reflected the primarily race-defined colonial structure such as the peninsular at the apex followed by the insular or locally born pure Spaniard, the Spanish mestizo, Chinese mestizo, indio (indigene), chino (non-Christian Chinese), and infiel (pagan) at the very bottom. All these “types” were characterized by distinctive dress, which also functioned as a social marker.

By the nineteenth century, the local elite had shifted to dressing in European wear, blurring the distinctions between the colonizer and colonized and proving the power of fashion to subvert nationality or origins.[120] With the opening of the Philippines to the outside world after the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Philippine fashion started to integrate urban mestizo culture that was neither purely native nor Hispanic, thus leading to exuberant forms of mestizaje or hybridity. In the extant albums of tipos del país—which reached full splendor in the art of José Honorato Lozano[121]—can be seen “the colonial hierarchy of appearances,” with the clase rica, consisting of rich and chic Spaniards, mestizos, and mestizas, mixed with the clase pobre, the ordinary laborer, ambulant vendor, or even the headtaking igorrote.

Tipos del País (19th Century Watercolor) by José Honorato Lozano

After Domingo’s stellar career specializing in miniaturismo, another genre of this type of art gained popularity in the mid-nineteenth century: that of letras y figuras (letters and figures). This genre flourished due to the rise of patrons who had grown wealthy from trade or agriculture. Letras y figuras consisted of spelling out patrons’ names letter by letter on watercolor and paper. This type of art grew out of the penchant during the Middle Ages for illuminating important manuscripts like the Bible, as well as the colonial tradition of embellishing capital letters in printed works.

Paintings in the “folk” style

A small number paintings expressed in the folk idiom prior to the early nineteenth century have been preserved, although Santiago Pilar proposed that a Bohol School of painting may have been active before the eighteenth century.[122] The earliest extant piece attributed to that school is from 1800, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, executed by the so-called Master of the Guanyin who influenced nineteenth-century iconic traditions in Bohol. While most local artists remain unidentified by name, Pilar has given them monikers based on their signature styles. For example, he gave the name of “Master of the Raised Eyebrow”to the student of the Guanyin Master who preferred to paint quizzical eyebrows on his subjects . The rise of the Bohol School is associated with the intense tutelage by the Jesuits starting with Fr. José Sánchez (1632–1692). He was credited with the construction of the great church of Loboc as well as the commisioning of several altars and a sagrario. Following the expulsion of the Jesuits, the Recollects took over and, from 1839, they began to successfully renew and invigorate Bohol ecclesiastical art.

In the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection is a magnificent cycle of the Stations of the Cross created in Bohol in 1830. Striking is the painter’s use of the same horizon and mountainous background across several stations. The somberness of the facial expressions are offset by the clashing complimentary colors of the figures’ garments. The panels exude a quiet mystery in the use of an arc of billowing clouds that frame the crosses and the skulls on the tufts of grass that litter the foreground.[123]

Quite intriguing is an anonymous Bohol artist’s late eighteenth-century image of the Holy Trinity depicted anthropomorphically, a practice that the Council of Trent (1545-1563) condemned. Art critic Emmanuel Torres commented that the failure of the artist to observe the norm was a failure of thorough evangelization, adding that “the culture of folk Catholicism evident in such representation underscores what can happen, and has happened, in rural areas far from the urban centers of Catholic indoctrination… where instruction in the fundamentals of the Faith has not been continuous or prolonged enough to develop a proper understanding of it among the masses.”[124] Patrick Flores, on the other hand, observed that such iconography has survived to the present day among those who seek anting-anting or amulets, thus reminding us of “the pre-colonial or non-colonial aspects of Philippine spirituality.” Folk beliefs have never failed to undercut and threaten organized religion, even as devotees sustain the latter’s hegemony. Such images are clear examples of the asymmetrical relationship between local and institutionalized beliefs.[125]

Dissenting via appropriation of the Basi Revolt series

One of the most significant cycles of early nineteenth-century Philippine paintings is that of the Basi Revolt. This was painted in 1821 to commemorate the horrors of the uprising, which had broken out in 1807 when the Ilocos region rose up against the Spanish government after it had created a monopoly on basi, or fermented sugarcane wine. Structured to mimic the Via Crucis or the devotional way of the cross, the series consists of fourteen oil paintings that capture the most important and iconic revolutionary events.

Commissioned by the elite government, local artist Esteban Villanueva (1798–1878) used a multi-planar (versus vanishing) perspective to depict the progress of the revolt and its consequences. The tableaux begin with the depiction of both Spanish soldiers and rebels preparing for battle, followed by the colonial infantry holding aloft the gold and red standard of Spain as the ragtag group of Ilocano rebels await on a hill. A battle commences and in the middle of the scenic plane, a comet in the shape of a white palm frond floats ominously in the sky. In the next scene, a river bisects the pictorial field, with Spanish soldiers shooting away at the rebels on the opposite bank. In the following tableau, provincial governor Juan Ibañes issues orders to subservient gobernardorcillos of the neighboring towns, followed by a grueling scene of hanging in the gallows as adults and children look on. The last scene, Decapitación de los condenados a esta pena, depicts the tragic end of the rebels. A gallow with a ladder fills the left foreground as the decapitated bodies of the rebels are depicted on the right, with some of their severed heads already placed in wire baskets meant for exposition in the public square.

On the surface, Villanueva painted the scenes from the Spanish point of view, warning the populace against further attempts of resistance. Yet in the act of representing Spanish propaganda, he also documented the mass revolt of the Ilocanos against colonial injustice. His paintings not only serve as a rare secular documentation of that era but also present to us the first indigenous visual chronicle of a landmark historical event.[126] The painting cycle operates on two contradictory modes. Patrick Flores observed the series’ paradox: “while its claims to documentary authenticity terminate with the decapitation of the insurgents, its Via Crucis tropology undermines the termination. The Way of the Cross foregrounds and sustains the death of the body—the infliction of pain and untold suffering—as precondition to resurrection…. Salvation, therefore, as theoretically ensured by the ideology of the Via Crucis, secures the possibility of revolution as the passion of the insurgents is transfigured as the necessary condition of hegemonic practice: regulation and resistance.”[127]

Visualizing heaven and hell and seeking salvation through the Mahal na Passion

Early Spanish missionaries struggled to convert lowlanders to a predictable moral universe, which stood in contrast to their ancient cosmology, which left them constantly in fear of unpredictable malevolent spirits and dependent on the intercession of babaylanes (shamans).[128] Likewise, Islam offered local believers a God who not only would protect but also promised then just rewards in paradise.[129]

Animist beliefs also offered an afterlife but one that was much too uncertain and unknown. The two great Western religions offered their believers consolation in the hope of a paradise that was—as a seventeenth-century Augustinian friar wrote—“only joy and happiness and life… There is nothing lacking there, every wish will be fulfilled… without sorrow and lament, no sadness, no tribulation, nothing is not glorious.”[130] Thus, heaven was associated with the ancient skyworld and rendered into the Tagalog as langit or caloualhatian, while the concept of hell could not be adequately conveyed using the local vernacular, and hence was called by its Spanish name, infierno.[131] According to Vicente Rafael, this suggested that the horrors to be encountered there had no equivalent in their authochthonous cosmology.

To convince early Filipinos to convert to the new beliefs and avoid the horrors of the afterlife, the missionaries used the locals’ customary dread of evil spirits such that “a well-painted picture of hell has converted a very great number of them,” as the Jesuit chronicler Fr. Pedro Chirino wrote.[132] Nothing was more graphic in the depiction of tortured souls in hell than the eight copper engravings of Ysidro Paulino (c. 1820s–c. 1890s), first published in Ang infiernong nacabucas[133] in 1871.

These horrific images found their inspiration in Renaissance paintings and Dante Alighieri’s Inferno as well as in the traditional Christian devotions that stressed the importance of meditating on the finalities of life, death, and the afterlife. However, these iconic representations were attenuated by the increased depiction of God who soothed his disciples as a loving friend and intimate. Gaspar Aquino de Belen best exemplified this in his extremely popular Mahal na Passion (1703), where Jesus addressed his disciples with affection in the Pamamaalam or Last Supper: “O mga Apostoles ko/ ibig ko’t mga katoto, / laon nang ninanasa ko / na tayo ay magsasalo / araw ng Paskong ganito” (Oh my Apostles / whom I love, my companions / I have long desired / that we gather together / on a Paschal day like this). In retelling the story of Christ’s passion, the author chose not to present “the wrathful God; besides, the terror of death could give rise to the indios seeking comfort in traditional animism, which, despite two hundred years of evangelization, had not been completely eliminated. What was needed was to remove the fear of death, because to die was to be with a friend.”[134]

This passage from the God of Wrath to the God of Abiding Friendship was mediated by the local process of interpretation and integration as well as the coding and decoding of foreign concepts. Yet even with the radical jettisoning of the local syllabary, the eradication of animist religion, and the introduction of the Spanish language and visuality, the indigenes did not remain passive. They navigated the shock of the foreign by actively choosing to introduce “a subtext to Christian discourse” that would play out its full dimension when they utilized the trope of the suffering Christ—performed yearly in the Mahal na Passion—to throw off the yoke of colonialism during the Philippine revolution.[135]

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[1] Large-scale archaeological excavations from the 1980s have revealed artifacts and inscriptions of Indianization of the insular Southeast Asia. See Pierre-Yves Manguin, A. Mani, and Geoff Wade, Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange (Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2011), xvii.

[2] Darwin J. Absari, “’Tampat’: A Worthy Remembrance,” in More Islamic than We Admit, ed. Isaac Donoso (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2018), 125–26.

[3] Absari, “Tampat,” 128.

[4] See the historical perorations of the authenticity of the image as being the exact icon gifted to Queen Juana in Pedro Galende, Santo Niño de Cebu, 1565–2015: 450 Years of History, Culture, and Devotion (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2016), 62–63, who summarized the arguments in favor or against that possibility, which had been written by Juan de la Concepción, Vidal y Montero, Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga, Isacio Rodríguez, and Rosa Tenazas.

[5] “Relación circunstanciada de los acontecimientos y suceso del viaje y jornada que hizo el Armada de S.M. de que fué por General el muy Ilustre Señor Miguel López de Legazpi […] [1565] ,” in Coleccion de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones españolas de ultramar (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1886) 1: 333–34. Although this document is written in the third person and unsigned, it is attributed to Legazpi himself. Another contemporaneous source is found in “Tanto Jurídico” [16 de mayo de 1565], in Historia de la Provincia Agustiniana del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús de Filipinas, ed. Isacio R. Rodríguez. (Manila: n.p., 1963), 13: 396–406. This is a transcription of the original manuscript that had been lost but had been fortunately transcribed in 1736 by Fr. Juan de Albarrán, which is now conserved at the Archivo de la Provincia Agustiniana de Filipinas in Valladolid. The historical event is described in similar terms by Gaspar de San Agustín, Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, 1565–1615, trans. Luis Mañeru, ed. Pedro Galende (Manila: San Agustín Museum, 1998 [1698]), 338–39.

[6] Astrid Sala-Boza, “Perceived Synchronicities in Santo Niño Ethnohistory,” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 34 (2006): 189–201; and Galende, Santo Niño de Cebu, 141–46.

[7] Christina H. Lee, “Conflictos discursivos en la construcción de la leyenda del Santo Niño de Cebú durante la temprana colonización española de Filipinas,” Revista de Crítica Latinoamericana , no. 88 (2013): 44, noted that this was precisely the discourse taken on by Legazpi in his despatches to the king, perhaps to cover up for the former’s disobedience to the royal orders that had prohibited him and his soldiers for unjustly sacking the homes of uncoverted natives.

[8] Juan José Delgado, Historia general sacro-profana, política y natural de las Islas del Poniente, llamadas Filipinas (Manila: Imprenta de el Eco de Filipinas, 1892), 39.

[9] San Agustín, Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, 337.

[10] José Siguión, La Virgen María Venerada en sus imágenes filipinas (Manila: Imprenta de Santos y Bernal, 1904), 110.

[11] Santiago A. Pilar, “Philippine Icons and Other Religious Paintings,” (manuscript, 1994), 62. Stolen in 1984 and returned without its ornaments, the stripped image revealed an important inscription: it had been placed in its shrine by Juan de Oliba in 1692. Pilar used Pál Kelemen’s term, Byzantoid, to describe this icon embellished with gold leaf appliqués in the Byzantine style, an art form imported into the country to serve as a prototype for local painters. Because the Virgin was painted with an elongated torso—Mannerist style—Pilar proposed that a Latin-American artist painted Our Lady. See also Valeriano Sánchez Ramos and Carlos Villoria Prieto, “Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga de Cavite (Filipinas),” Calle de la Amargura: historia, espiritualidad, devoción, arte : Actas del Congreso Internacional, ed. Ramón de la Campa Carmona(Cádiz: Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús de los Afligidos, 2019), 797–82.

[12] Anales Ecclesiasticos de Philipinas, ed. Ruperto Santos (Manila: The Roman Archbishop of Manila, 1994 [1574-1682]), 1: 30.

[13] Jacob Suico, “The Continuing Evangelizing Mission of the Image of Nuestra Señora de Guía in Ermita, Manila,” (research paper, University of Santo Tomás, 2018), 5; Carlos Quirino, Old Manila, ed. María Eloísa de Castro (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2016), 98–99.

[14] Manuel Romero, Historia de la Virgen de Antipolo (Manila: Pérez, 1886), and quoted by Wenceslao Retana, El Periodismo Filipino: The First Century of Philippine Journalism, ed. José Víctor Torres (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2018), 116–17. Monina A. Mercado, Antipolo: A Shrine to Our Lady (Makati: Ayala Museum, 1980), 49, affirmed the native devotion to Nuestra Señora de la Paz, writing that “We cherish this image because it makes Our Lady look like us, as generations of Filipinos have said.”

[15] Francisco Gaínza and Manuel Grijalbo,El santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Pẽna de Francia, de la ciudad de Nueva Cáceres en las Islas Filipinas, escrito y publicado en bicol (Barcelona: Tip. Católica, 1881).

[16] The origin story of Caysasay in found in Francisco Bencuchillo, Epítome de la historia de la aparición de Nuestra Señora de Caysasay (Manila: Cayetano de Enríquez, 1834), while Jeane Peracullo, “The Virgin of the Vulnerable Lake: Catholic Engagement with Climate Change in the Philippines,” Religions 11, no. 4 (2020), discussed the environmental impact around her devotion. Tan Chee-beng, ed., After Migration and Religious Affiliation: Religions, Chinese Identities, and Transnational Networks (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2015, 120–21, also considered the Nuestra Señora de Paz y Buen Viaje, Santa Ana Lao Ma, and the Virgen de los Desamparados of Manila as Christian emanations of Mazu, echoing Teresita Ang See and Go Bon Juan, “Religious Syncretism among the Chinese in the Philippines,” in The Chinese in the Philippines:Problems and Perspectives, ed. Teresita Ang-See (Manila: Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, 1990), 54–67.

[17] See early accounts on native concepts of virginity in Antonio Pigafetta, “Primo viaggio intorno al mondo [1525],” in B&R, 33: 171–73; Antonio de Morga, Historical Events of the Philippine Islands [1609], ed. Rizal, 288–89; Pedro Chirino, Relación de las Islas Filipinas, tr. Ramón Echevarría (Manila: Historical Conservation Society, 1969 [1604]), 52; Miguel de Loarca, “Relación de las Yslas Filipinas [1582],” in B&R 5: 116–19; and Isaac Donoso, ed., Boxer Codex: A Modern Spanish Transcription and English Translation of 16th-century Exploration Accounts of East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2016 [c. 1598]), 57–59. The key reference in the struggle over women’s gender and sexuality during this period is Carolyn Brewer, Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521–1685 (Manila: Institute of Women’s Studies, 2001. [Ed.: For native priestesses and their inculturation into Hispanic Christianity, see Marya Svetlana Camacho, “The Baylan and Catalonan in the Early Spanish Colonial Period,” which is included in this anthology. For the transformation of women’s religious roles from baylan to beata, see also another essay by the same author, which is included in this book.]

[18] Gabriel Casal and Regalado Trota José, “Colonial Artistic Expression in the Philippines, 1565–1898,” in The People and Art of the Philippines (Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1981), 108–10. For a full discussion of the major impact of Marian art, see Leong, “The Virgin of the Breadfruit Tree.”

[19] Deirdre de la Cruz, Marian Apparitions and the Making of a Filipino Universal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

[20] Juan de Plasencia, “Customs of the Tagalogs” [1589], in B&R, 7: 177–78; Chirino, Relación de las Islas Filipinas, trans. Echevarría; and an anonymous chronicler, “Relation of the Philippine Islands” [c. 1586], in B&R, 34: 378. For a discussion of the transition of ancient concepts to Spanish iconography of saints, see Santiago A. Pilar, A Harvest of Saints (Makati: Ayala Museum, 2005).

[21] John Clark, “Colonial Art as a Space of the Asian Modern,” in Charting Thoughts: Essays on Art in Southeast Asia, ed. Low Sze Wee and Patrick D. Flores (Singapore: National Gallery, 2017), 48–49.

[22] Santiago A. Pilar, “Philippine Painting: The Early Chinese Heritage,” Arts of Asia, November–December 1994, 62–70, and cited by Clark, “Colonial Art,” 49.

[23] Marjorie Trusted, “Exotic Devotion: Sculpture in Viceregal America and Brazil, 1520–1820, in The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820, ed. Joseph J. Rishel and Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2006), 252.

[24] Regalado Trota José, “From Indio Tagalo to Indio Bravo: Philippine Visual Arts, 1565–1920,” in Igkas-Arte: The Philippine Arts during the Spanish Period, ed. Nicanor Tiongson (Manila: Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas, 1998), 100.

[25] Esperanza Bunag Gatbonton, A Heritage of Saints: Colonial Santos in the Philippines (Manila: Editorial Associates, 1979), 109–10.

[26] Fernando Zóbel, Philippine Religious Imagery (Manila: Ateneo de Manila, 1963), 27–33. Zóbel fleshed out his earlier ideas in his pioneering monograph, “Philippine Colonial Sculpture,” Philippine Studies 6, no. 3 (1958): 249–94, after he had undertaken a research project with Benito J. Legarda Jr.

[27] Eladio Zamora, Las corporaciones religiosas de Filipinas (Valladolid: Imprenta y Librería Religiosa de Andrés Martín, 1901), 133, and Gatbonton, A Heritage of Saints, 101.

[28] Winand Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines: Filipino Building in a Cross-Cultural Context, revised ed. (Cebu: University of San Carlos Press, 2010), 223–24.

[29] Gerard Lico, Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2008), 65, 71–78; and Reuben Ramas Cañete, “Review of ‘Masjid/Mosque Architecture: Jewels of Philippine Islamic Faith,’” Espasyo 5 (2013): 124–25.

[30] San Agustín church has been described in urban legend as “earthquake-proof.” Archival research undertaken by Pedro Luengo on its plans in AGI have not yielded such documentation.

[31] Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines, 138–43, based his observation on Waldo Jiménez de la Romera, Cuba, Puerto Rico y Filipinas, España: Sus monumentos y artes, su naturaleza e historia (Barcelona, 1887, 858, and his studies of similar vaulting in Latrobe Cathedral in Baltimore (1799–1801), an assertion which Pedro Luengo, The Convents of Manila: Globalized Architecture during the Iberian Union (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University, 2008), 59–60, disputed, stating that it would have taken a very ingenious architect to have devised “inverted dome” foundation at that time. Luengo claimed that other contemporaneous structures have withstood the test of time, with the Augustinian complex having survived simply because it was not torn down.

[32] Scattered documents on its foundation and construction are found in AGI, Filipinas 76, 79, 84, as documented by Luengo, The Convents of Manila, 52–55. For an overview, see Pedro Galende, OSA, Philippine Church Facades (Quezon City: San Agustín Museum and Filipiniana.net, 2007). Pedro Galende and Regalado Trota José, San Agustín Art and History, 1571–2000 (Manila: San Agustín Museum, 2000), 16–17., deny that Fr. Antonio de Herrera was its architect, a supposed relative of the famed architect of El Escorial, Juan de Herrera., an assertion first stated by Gaspar de San Agustín, 362, which Luengo (54–59) defended.

[33] Luengo, The Convents of Manila, 204–206.

[34] Richard Ahlborn, “The Spanish Churches of Central Luzon (I),” Philippine Studies 8, no. 4 (October 1960): 811–12. The myth that Philippine colonial churches were built mostly with forced labor has not been substantiated with archival sources as seen in the research of Regalado Trota José, Richard Ahlborn, and Pedro Luengo. An oft-quoted citation of a revolt against conscripted construction is that of Majayjay church. See Juan Palazon, Majayjay: How a Town Came into Being (Manila: Historical Conservation Society, 1964), 16, and cited in Patrick Flores, “Philippine Painting, 1521–1821 and the Politics of Colonial Visualities: Relocating the Colonial in Southeast Asian Art History,” SPAFA Journal 6, no. 2 (1996): 40.

[35] Luengo, The Convents of Manila, 206–07.

[36] Galende, Philippine Church Façades, xiii–xiv, 29, 51, 66

[37] Regalado Trota José, “Bamboo or Brick: The Travails of Building Churches in Spanish Colonial Philippines,” in Old Cultures in New Worlds, 8th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium Programme Report (Washington, DC: ICOMOS, 1987), 800–804; Javellana, Weaving Cultures, 112–13.

[38] Flores, “Philippine Painting,” 42.

[39] Francisco López de Gómara, “Historia general de las Indias” [1549],” in Historiadores primitivos de Indias, 2 vols. (Madrid: Rivadeynera, 1852), 1: 181.

[40] Felipe II, “Ordenanzas de Felipe II sobre descubrimiento, nueva población y pacificación de las Indias. 13 de julio de 1573,” in “Bulas y Cédulas para el Gobierno de las Indias,” Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid, MS 3017. A full English translation is found in Zelia Nuttall, “Royal Ordinances Concerning the Laying Out of New Towns,” n 4, no. 4(November 1921): 249–54, and 5, no. 2 (May 1922): 249–54, which can be read in Lico, Arkitekturang Filipino, 110–12. A more recent translation is that of Kelly Donahue-Walllace, Art and Architecture of Viceregal Latin America, 1521–1821 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2008), 72–75.

[41] Richard L. Kagan, “City,” in Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Exchange and Transformation, ed. Evonne Levy and Kenneth Mills (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2013), 65–68.

[42] Alice M. Coseteng, Spanish Churches in the Philippines (Quezon City: Mercury Printing,1972), 6.

[43] Peter Murphy and Trevor Hogan, “Discordant Order: Manila’s Neo-Patrimonial Urbanism,” Thesis Eleven 112, no. 1 (2012): 15.

[44] Robert Reed, Colonial Manila: The Context of Hispanic Urbanism and Process of Morphogenesis (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1978), 3–10, and Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines, 98–106.

[45] See the lengthy discussion in chapter one, notes 22 and 23 of this volume for the dating of the Ifugao rice terraces. Felix Keesing in The Ethnohistory of Northern Luzon (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1962) concluded that they were built during Spanish times, and Fr. Francis Lambrecht dated the rice terraces to 1680 AD in E. Patanñe, “Dating the Rice Terraces,” Kalinangan 1, no. 2 (1975): 39. [Ed.: For a more detailed discussion of this relatively recent dating, see Acabado’s essay, “Colonial Resistance through Political and Economic Consolidation,” which is included in this anthology.]

[46] Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines, 29–38.

[47] James Eder, “No Water in the Terraces: Agricultural Stagnation and Social Change at Banaue, Ifugao,” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 10 (1982): 106–10 . For a comprehensive ethnographic study of the Ifugao religious and sociopolitical practices that sustained terrace agriculture, see Harold Conklin, Ethnographic Atlas of Ifugao (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980).

[48] Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines, 85–86, based his research on his fieldwork and on Tuwan Jainal, G. Rixhon, and D. Rupert, “Housebuilding among the Tausug,” Sulu Studies (Jolo: Notre Dame of Jolo, 1972), 1:113; Lico, Arkitekturang Filipino, 84.

[49] Norma Alarcón, Philippine Architecture during the Pre-Spanish and Spanish Periods (Manila: UST Publishing House, 1991), 24–68, while the diverse range of native construction materials was catalogued in the late nineteenth century by Manuel Herbella y Pérez, Manual de construcciones y fortificación de campaña en Filipinas (Madrid: Imprenta Memorial de Ingenieros, 1882). A listing of these materials in found in Luengo, The Convents of Manila, 243–46.

[50] The 1583 fire caused De Vera to order the city reconstruction in stone. See “Carta de Sebastián de Vera en que informa de las obras de reconstrucción en piedra de la ciudad de Manila en sustitución de la madera por el peligro de los incendios, Manila, 26 de junio de 1587),” AGI, Filipinas,18A, N.31.

[51] Sande’s order is contained in AGI, Filipinas, 8, cited by Luengo, 30n19. More details about Governor-General de Vera’s order of using stone for building was revealed in a letter of his son, “Petición de Gaspar de Vera en Manila, a 30 april de 1590, AGI, Filipinas, 50, and cited by Lourdes Díaz-Trechuelo y Spínola, Arquitectura española en Filipinas (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1959), 11.

[52] Reed, Colonial Manila, 53–55, discussed native contributions, while Luengo, 32–33, detailed the hauling of stone blocks in a barge that went along Manila bay or the Pasig river. Antonio de Morga, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, ed. W.E. Retana (Madrid, 1909 [1609]), 198ff, and cited by Díaz Trechuelo, Arquitectura española, 12–13.

[53] The Parián’s developments were summarized in “Carta de fray Domingo de Salazar, obispo de Filipinas, sobre lo bien que reciben los mandarines de la China a los castellanos, extensamente sobre los sangleyes, de la buena situación del puerto de Manila,” 24 June 1590, AGI, 23, Filipinas, 74, N. 38; which also translated as “The Chinese and the Parián at Manila,” B&R, 7: 212–238. See also the discussion on the Parián’s historical development in Lorelei D.C. de Viana, Three Centuries of Binondo Architecture, 1594–1898: A Socio-Historical Perspective (Manila: University of Santo Tomás Publishing House, 2001), 1–12.

[54] Hsieh Chang, Tung shi yang k’ao (Shanghai: Shang-wu yin-shu-kuan, 1959 [17th century], chüan 12, and cited in Albert Chan, “Chinese-Philippine Relations in the Late Sixteenth Century to 1603,” in More Tsinoy than We Admit: Chinese-Filipino Interactions over the Centuries, ed. Richard T. Chu (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2015), 39.

[55] Carl H. Nightingale, Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 59. See also Daniel F. Doeppers, “The Development of Philippine Cities Before 1900,” The Journal of Asian Studies 31, no. 4 (1972): 773–76 [769-792], who called this pattern inherited from New Spain as a “hierarchy of settlements.” For example, Cebu had a Spanish citadel around the Santo Niño basilica, while to the north of it was the Chinese Parián and to the west of it was the cabecera of San Nicolás for indios. Intramuros had Tondo and San Nicolás, while Cavite Puerto had the poorer San Roque town just a few cannonshots away.

[56] This city plan is in AGI, Mapas y Planos, Filipinas, 10, 11 nobiembre 1671.

[57] Fr. Joseph Fayol, “Affairs in Filipinas, 1644–1647, Manila, 1647,” in B&R, 35: 212–75, cited by by Antonio G. Manuud, Enrique D. Perez, Genaro V. Ong, and Angelita Martinez, “The Manila Cathedral, 1571–1958: A Symposium,” Philippine Studies 7, no. 1 (January 1959): 102–3 [98–110]]. The original Spanish document is a manuscript in “Papeles de los Jesuitas,” Tomo 71, no. 32, Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid. In a present-day study, the magnitured of this earthquake was estimated at 7. 9 on the modified Mercalli intensity scale by María Bautista and Kazuo Oike, “Estimation of the Epicenters and Magnitudes of Philippine Historical Earthquakes,” Technophysics 317 (2000): 152, and cited in Greg Bankoff, “Fire and Quake in the Construction of Old Manila,” The Medieval History Journal 10, nos. 1 and 2 (2007): 419 [411–27].

[58] Echoing James Ackerman, René Javellana, Wood and Craft for God’s Greater Glory: Jesuit Art and Architecture in the Philippines (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University, 1991), 8–10, stated that architect Della Porta’s Il Gesù façade and interiors exercised an enormous influence on churches around the world, becoming in effect one of the seminal buildings of Westrn architecture that became” the germ of Baroque.”

[59] Klassen, Architecture in the Philippines, 129–31.

[60] Bankoff, “Fire and Quake in the Construction of Old Manila,”421, 422–23.

[61] Fernando Zialcita, “Manila’s Houses,” in Manila, The Western Orient (Madrid: Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas, 1998), and cited in Glenn Orbon, “’Walled City’ in the Tropics: An Analysis of the Urban Fabric and Tropical Design Considerations of Intramuros,” Espasyo 5 (2013): 95 [89–97]. A fuller account is in Fernando Zialcita and Martín Tinio Jr., Philippine Ancestral Houses (Quezon City: GCF Books, 1980), 242–53.

[62] The Roman architect and engineer, Vitruvius, coined the three-part rubric “Firmitas, Utilitas et Venustas.” The three words translated to “Strength, Utility, and Beauty” have come to be recognized as the cornerstone of any successful act of “making.”

[63] René Javellana, SJ, Weaving Cultures: The Invention of Colonial Art and Culture in the Philippines, 1565–1850 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2017), 144.

[64] Ralph Dekoninck, “Engraving,” in Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Exchange and Transformation, ed. Evonne Levy and Kenneth Mills (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2013), 117–18.

[65] Javellana, Weaving Cultures, 148.

[66] A comprehensive summary of the controversies regarding the dating and sequencing of these xylographic books is found in Matthew Hill, “Intercolonial Currents: Printing Press and Book Circulation in the Spanish Philippines, 1571–1821” (PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 2015), 24–28..

[67] Jorge Mojarro, “Los primeros libros impresos en Filipinas (1593–1607),” Hispania Sacra 72, no. 145 (enero-junio 2020): 236. [231–40). Interestingly, Juan de Vera must have also exercised some influence in other visual arts. Isaac Donoso, ed., Boxer Codex, li, concluded that Keng-Yong is none other than the Christianized Juan de Vera.

[68] Jorge Mojarro, ed., Wenceslao Retana’s Bibliographical Apparatus for the General Study of Philippine History and Culture (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., forthcoming) under entry entry no. 56A. Although Alonso Fernández, Historia Eclesiástica de nuestros tiempos... (Toledo: Viuda de Pedro Rodríguez, 1611), 303–304, was the first to postulate that the first typographically printed book was the non-extant Libro de las cuatro postrimerías del hombre of 1602, Mojarro examined its 1734 edition, which was a thick volume of 230 pages, meaning that it would have been a major challenge for an apprentice printer to have undertaken such a first work. Together with other factors, Mojarro concluded that “this modest [octavo book of eight pages] Ordinationes Generales holds the distinction of being the first typographically printed book of the Philippines.” See also Mojarro, “Los primeros libros impresos en Filipinas,” 237–38, and Hill, “Intercolonial Currents,” 26–30.

[69] Diego de Aduarte, Historia de la provincia del Sancto Rosario de la Orden de Predicadores en Philippinas, Iapon y China… (Manila: Colegio-Universidad de Santo Tomás de Manila, 1640), libro I, capítulo XXVII, 108, and cited in Wenceslao E. Retana, Aparato bibliográfico de la historia general de Filipinas 1:112

[70] Damon Woods, “Counting and Marking Times from the Precolonial to the Contemporary Tagalog World,” Philippine Studies 59, no. 3 (September 2011): 337–65. Among other innovations, Pinpín proposed a hybrid way of counting time and money: Tagalog for pesos and Spanish for centavos, as well as using Spanish terms for hours of the day and Tagalog to number the times of the day.

[71] Vicente Rafael, Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1988), 7. Rafael’s studies are useful for the study of the revolutionary mentalité of the masses as seen in the works of Reynaldo Ileto and his “history from below.”

[72] Blas Sierra de la Calle, OSA, Grabados Filipinos, 1592–1898 (Valladolid: Museo Oriental, 2011), 6–9.

[73] The earliest known extant estampitas were printed in 1621 for a book called Rosario Daiiichi meant for Spanish missionary use in Japan. See Regalado Trota Jose, “The Scenes of the Life of Christ in the Rosario Daiichi of 1623: The Earliest Known Philippine Estampitas” (paper delivered at the 22nd Annual Manila Studies Conference, 27–29 August 2013).

[74] Imelda Cajipe Endaya, “Early Philippine Engravings,” Filipinas Journal of Science and Culture 1(1981): 130–31.

[75] Regalado Trota José, “From Indio Tagalo to Indio Bravo: Philippine Visual Arts, 1565–1920,” in Igkas-Arte: The Philippine Arts during the Spanish Period (Manila: Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas, 1998), 102–3. Lorenzo Atlas’s given name was sometimes listed as Laureano. However, he signed his name in Latin as Laurentius, hence his Spanish name is Lorenzo. See René Javellana, Igkas-Arte, 47.

[76] Javellana, Weaving Cultures, 149. 152.

[77] Carlos Quirino, Philippine Cartography, 1320–1899, fourth edition, ed. Carlos Madrid (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2018), 80–82.

[78] Quirino’s identification of the work of each individual artist in Philippine Cartography dovetailed with the assessment of Santiago Pilar who credited Suárez for the more masterful rendering of the rural scenes and city plans. Pilar noted that Suárez, being the more senior artist by fifteen years, displayed his mastery of Philippine flora and fauna as well as of more “elaborate, complex, and extremely detailed scenes,” whether of the countryside or the city plans. See Santiago A. Pilar with Cecilia S. de la Paz, “Murillo Velarde Map of 1734 / Carta hydrográphica,” in CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, second edition (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 2017), 5: 453–54.

[79] The symbolic map was also accompanied by another more “conventional” geographic map engraved by Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay that contained another innovation: its equatorial line was presented vertically. See Ricardo Padrón, “Allegory of Empire,” in Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader, ed. Jordana Dym and Karl Offen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Alfredo Morales Martínez, “Cartografía y cartografía simbólica: Las ‘Theses de mathematicas, de cosmographía e hidrographía’ de Vicente de Memije,” Varia Historia, Belo Horizonte 32, no. 60 (September–December 2016): 669–96. D.R.M. Irving, “Musical Politics of Empire: The Loa in 18th-Century Manila,” Early Music 32, no. 3 (August 2004): 384, declared that “its production in Manila also firmly positions the Philippine archipelago as an integral part of this worldwide enterprise of trade and culture.”

[80] Isaac Donoso, “Sources of Philippine Islam,” in More Islamic than We Admit (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2018), 9–10. For a catalogue of outstanding Maranao Islamic calligraphic art, see Annabel Teh Gallop, “Cultural Interactions in Islamic Manuscript Art,” in The Library of an Islamic Scholar of Mindanao: The Collection of Sheik Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq Library, Marawi City, ed. Oman Fathurahman, Kawashima Midori, and Labi Sarip Riwarung (Tokyo: Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies, 2019), 205–48. The essay catalogued the artistic styles of the decorated frames and the recurring motifs of three interlocking fishes and the tree of life.

[81] Fr. Domingo de Salazar, “Carta de fray Domingo de Salazar…,” 24 June 1590, AGI, 23, Filipinas, 74, N. 38, translated as “Letter to Felipe II,” in B&R 7: 226, and cited by Jesús Gayo Aragón, OP, and Antonio Domínguez, Doctrina Christiana: Primer Libro Impreso en Filipinas: Facsímile del ejemplar existente en la Biblioteca Vaticana, con un ensayo histórico-bibliográfico por Fr. J. Gayo Aragón, OP, y observaciones filológicas y traducción española de Fr. Antonio Domínguez, OP (Manila: Imprenta de la Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomás, 1951), 77.

[82] Regalado Trota José stated an incongruence between the styles of the retablo and ivory crucifix. Juan de los Santos’s retablo is very much in keeping with the Plateresque style, while the attributed Cristo Expirante is definitely of the late Baroque, meaning that the two were made by different artists. See Images of Faith: Religious Ivory Carvings from the Philippines (Pasedena, California: Pacific Asia Museum, 1990), 20.

[83] Among Dr. Estella Marcos’s landmark works on the subject are “La escultura en marfil hispanofilipina,” Artes de México (April 1991): 87–100; “Sobre escultura española en America y Filipinas,” in Relaciones artísticas entre España y América (Madrid: CSIC Instituto Diego Velázquez, 1990); “Tráfico artístico entre Filipinas y España, vía Acapulco,” in El Extremo Oriente Ibérico: Investigaciones históricas, metodología, estado de la Cuestión (Madrid: CSIC, 1990); and Ivories from the Far Eastern Provinces of Spain and Portugal, ed. Lydia Sada de González (Monterrey, Mexico: Espejo de Obsidiana, 1997). See also Ana Ruiz Gutiérrez, “El tráfico artístico entre España y Filipinas, 1565–1815” (PhD dissertation, Universidad de Granada, 2013), 271–73.

[84] Pál Kelemen, Baroque and Rococo in Latin America (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 200, and Pilar, A Harvest of Saints, 23.

[85] Agustín María de Castro, OSA, The Augustinian Convent of San Pablo of Manila / San Agustín in 1770 (Manila: Museo San Agustín, 2015 [1770]), 50.

[86] René Javellana, SJ, “Colonial Sculpture and Furniture,” chap. 11 in Philippine by Design (Quezon City: Vibal Group, Inc., forthcoming)..

[87] Fernando Zóbel y Montojo quoted in Benito Legarda Jr., “Colonial Churches of Ilocos,” Philippine Studies 8 (January 1960): 145 [121–58]. Zóbel, as well as Santiago Pilar, echoed the renowned Spanish and Latin American colonial art scholar Pál Keleman who coined the phrase “earthquake baroque” to highlight the arquitectura mestiza forged in the Philippines.

[88] Javellana, Weaving Cultures, 261.

[89] Ramón Zaragoza, Old Manila (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990), 51.

[90] Pilar, A Harvest of Saints, 29. For example, a painting attributed to Justiniano Asunción, Jesucristo en el Santo Sepulcro venerado en la parroquía de Dilao, is traced to the 1813 copper engraving of Juan Arzeo and compared to a sculpture cited by Zóbel in page 120 of his book. Interestingly, the same subject was also taken up by Ysidro Paulino who executed a copper engraving in 1875 based on Arzeo’s print.

[91] Pilar ascribed a hybrid Chinese ancestry to the artists of the era, who were mostly sangleyes or mestizos chinos.

[92] Pilar, A Harvest of Saints, 42–43. Pilar’s typologies and periodizations of colonial artistic styles are more fully elaborated in “Philippine Icons and Other Religious Paintings,” (manuscript, 1994), 12–16.

[93] For the earliest Chinese antecedents of tipos del país painting, see Francisco de Santos Moro, La vida en papel de arroz (Madrid: Museo Nacional de Antropología, 2007).

[94] For a concise history of the two art academies, see “The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Manila’s Art Schools,” in Quirino, Old Manila, 160–65.

[95] Santiago A. Pilar, “The Icon Painting Tradition,” in Tubod: The Heart of Bohol (Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003), 137–46. See also a deeper analysis of folk style in his “Philippine Icons and Other Religious Paintings,” chapters five to six, 244–316 with the last being a broad survey of “folk” or regional styles in Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and Siquijor.

[96] Patrick Flores, “The Zóbel Nexus,” Kritika Kultura 24 (2015):187–88. [182–205].

[97] P l Kelemen, Art of the Americas: Ancient and Hispanic, with a Comparative Chapter on the Philippines (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969), 338, and quoted in Flores, “The Zóbel Nexus,” 188.

[98] Flores, “The Zóbel Nexus,” 188.

[99] Isometric perspective or projection is a type of visual perspective in which all dimensions parallel to the three principal spatial axes are shown in their true proportions.

[100] Pilar, “Philippine Icons and Other Religious Paintings,” 56–59.

[101] Regalado Trota José, Simbahan, 147–48.

[102] The present manuscript conserved at the Archdiocese of Manila is a copy of the original and is dated to around mid-eighteenth century. An abridged translation with color reproductions of the charming illuminated letters is available. See Anales Eccesiásticos de Philipinas, 1574–1682: Philippine Church History, ed. Ruperto C. Santos, 2 vols. (Manila: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, 1994). See also Pablo Fernández, “Anales Eccesiásticos de Philipinas,” Philippiniana Sacra 2, no. 4 (January–April 1967): 177–204.

[103] Patrick D. Flores, Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (Quezon City: UP Office of Research Coordination and National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1998), 169.

[104] Isaac Donoso, “Introduction,” Boxer Codex: A Modern Spanish Transcription and English Translation of 16th-Century Exploration Accounts of East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, trans. Ma. Luisa García, Carlos Quirino, and Mauro García (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2016), xxiii–xxiv. This book reproduces 59 of the illuminated drawings in full color. The Boxer Codex is conserved at the Lilly Library of Indiana University and is named after its former owner, Prof. Charles Boxer.

[105] Charles Boxer, “A Late Sixteenth-Century Manila Manuscript,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 82, nos. 1 and 2 (April 1950): 41–45 [37–49]. A more detailed study of some the Chinese figures was done by Tsungjen Chen, “Las fuentes chinas del Códice Boxer: La ilustración de los Xaque y el conocimiento de Fujian,” in El Códice Boxer: Etnografía colonial e hibridismo cultural en las islas Filipinas, ed. Manel Ollé and Joan-Paul Rubiés (Barcelona: Universidat de Barcelona, 2019), 111–28. Ramón Villegas, Kayamanan: The Philippine Jewelry Tradition (Manila: Central Bank of the Philippines, 1983), 64, correlated these illustrations with extant diadems, hoop earrings, woven loop necklaces, intricate clasps, and even cone-shaped gold finials and appliqués of the early contact period.

[106] El Rey [Carlos III], Real Cédula de S.M. y Señores del Consejo, por la qual se declara que la profesión de las nobles artes del dibuxo, pintura, escultura y arquitectura queda enteramente libre para que todo sugeto nacional ó extranjero la exercite sin estorbo ni contribución alguna, en la conformidad que se expresa (Madrid: En la Imprenta de Pedro Marin, 1785).

[107] Lourdes Díaz -Trechuelo y Spínola, La Real Compañía de Filipinas (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1965; Ma. Pilar de San Pío Aladrén, ed., La expedición de Juan de Cuéllar a Filipinas (Madrid: Lunwerg, 1997). See also the introduction to Fr. Manuel Blanco’s Flora de Filipinas, ed. Domingo Madulid (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation Inc., 2017), xiv.

[108] Ninel Valderrama Negrón, “Nostalgia of the Empire: The Arrival of the Portrait of Ferdinand VII in Manila in 1825,” 19 & 20 10, no. 2 (2015), accessed 30 August 2020, http://www.dezenovevinte.net/uah2/nvn_en/htm. The descriptionof the royal celebrations are in Nick Joaquín and Luciano P. R. Santiago, The World of Damián Domingo (Manila: Seis Caballeros, Inc., 1990), 14–15, and Quirino, Old Manila, 145–59.

[109] Santiago A. Pilar, “Handbook of Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Printmakers, Photographers, and Craftsmen Active in the Philippines, 1571–1941” (unpublished typescript, undated), 71.

[110] Díaz-Trechuelo, Arquitectura Española en Filipinas, 69–94; Pedro Luengo Gutiérrez, Manila, Plaza Fuerte, 1762–1788: Ingenieros militares entre Asia, América y Europa (Madrid: Ministerio de Defensa, CSIC, 2013), 37–54.

[111] Both Luciano Santiago and Santiago Pilar concur that this link between the two is likely.

[112] Pilar, Religious Icons, 174–75.

[113] Luciano P. R. Santiago, The Life, Art and Times of Damián Domingo (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, Inc., 2010), 75–77.

[114] Carlos Quirino, Old Manila, 160.

[115] Sociedad Económica de Manila, Elementos de perspectiva (Sampaloc, Manila: Imprenta de Sampaloc, 1828).

[116] Patrick D. Flores, Painting History, 221–22.

[117] Santiago A. Pilar, “The Evolution of the Filipino Still-life,” Archipelago (May 1979): 17–21.

[118] Joaquín and Santiago, The World of Damián Domingo, 10.

[119] Florina Capistrano-Baker, Multiple Originals, Original Multiples: Nineteenth-Century Images of Philippine Costumes (Makati: Ayala Foundation, Inc., 2004).

[120] Stephanie Marie R. Coo, “Clothing and the Colonial Culture of Appearances in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Philippines, 1820–1896” (PhD thesis, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, 2014), 24–25.

[121] José María Cariño, José Honorato Lozano: Filipinas 1847 (Makati: Ars Mundi, 2002).

[122] Pilar, Tubod, 135–45.

[123] Fatima Lasay, “Tanáw: Seeing and Shaping the World in the Philippine Landscape,” in Tanáw: Perspectives on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Painting Collection, ed. Ramón E.S. Lerma (Manila: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, 2005), 323–24.

[124] Emmanuel Torres, Kayamanan: 77 Paintings from the Central Bank Collection (Manila: Central Bank of the Philippines, 1981), 14, and quoted in Flores, Painting History, 182.

[125] Flores, Painting History, 182.

[126] Ramón Villegas, “Culture and Empire in the Age of Liberation,” in Igkas-Arte, ed. Tiongson, 53.

[127] Flores, Painting History, 291–92. The most comprehensive account baseds on archival sources of this series of Ilocano revolts against state control are by Roberto Blanco Andrés, “La revuelta de Ilocos de 1807,”  Archivo Agustiniano 96, no. 214 (2012): 43–72, and “La revuelta de Ilocos de 1811 and 1818.”

[128] Pedro Murillo Velarde, “Jesuit Mission in the Seventeenth Century,” [1749] inB&R 44:71.

[129] Anthony Reid, “Islamization and Christianization in Southeast Asia: The Critical Phase, 1550–1650,” in Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era: Trade, Power, and Belief, ed. Anthony Reid (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993), 168–69.

[130] Quoted in Vicente Rafael, Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1988), 172–73.

[131] Rafael, Contracting Colonialism, 170–83.

[132] Pedro Chirino, Relación de las Islas Filipinas, trans. Echevarría, 297.

[133] Apparently, this book was a classic having descended from the original text of Pablo Claín (d. 1717), Ang infiernong nabubucsan (Manila: Convento nang Dilao ng H. Francisco de los Santos, 1713), which was accompanied by illustrations of Lucas Francisco Rodríguez. Its text was republished in Spanish as Infierno abierto in 1814, and then repurposed as Ang infiernong nacabucas, which presumably was newly illustrated by Ysidro Paulino. Santiago Pilar surmised that Rodríguez’s original source was Flemish engravings of the Wierix family, who had popularized such gruesome images that appealed to demonologists of that time. Epifanio San Juan stated that the sources of these books were typically moral tracts written originally in a European language and then translated into the vernacular by Spanish friars or local writers. An 1871 reprint of Infiernong nacabucas by Amigos del País stated that the original was written in Italian by a Jesuit, probably Pedro Juan Pinamonti. See Introduction to Modern Pilipino Literature, ed. Epifanio San Juan (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974), 7.

[134] Quoted in Javellana, Weaving Cultures, 196–96. I have modernized the Tagalog verse. The English translation is by Javellana.

[135] See Reynaldo Ileto, Pasyon and Revoution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840–1910 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1979), a key text that unearthed the mentalité of the Tagalog masses in their transformation from suffering passivity to revolutionary consciousness through the popular re-appropriation of the Mahal na Passion tropes. For the role of religion in rural revots and a meditation on Rafael and Ileto’s landmark work, see Kathy Nadeau, “Peasant Resistance and Religious Protests in Early Philippine Society: Turning Friars Against the Grain,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 41, no. 1 (2002): 75–8.

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