Tentative List

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in Ifugao

For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment. The rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are living cultural landscapes devoted to the production of one of the world’s most important staple crops, rice. They preserve traditional techniques and forms dating back many centuries, still viable today. At the same time they illustrate a remarkable degree of harmony between humankind and the natural environment of great aesthetic appeal, as well as demonstrating sustainable farming systems in mountainous terrain, based on a careful use of natural resources. They are the only monuments in the Philippines that show no evidence of having been influenced by colonial cultures. Owing to the difficult terrain, the Cordillera tribes are among the few peoples of the Philippines who have successfully resisted foreign domination and preserved their authentic tribal culture. The history of the terraces is intertwined with that of its people, their culture, and their traditional practices.

  • Batad and Banga-an in Banaue
  • Nagacadan in Kiangan
  • Hapao in Hungduan
  • Mayoyao

Historic Vigan City in Ilocos Sur

Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia. Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and South-East Asia. The architecture is truly reflective of its roots in both materials and design, in its fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning. The town is located in the delta of the Abra River, off the coastal plain of the China Sea, close to the north-east tip of the island of Luzon. The present-day municipality divided into nine urban districts and thirty rural villages. Almost half the total area is still in use for agriculture. The Historic Core Zone is defined on two sides by the Govantes and Mestizo rivers.

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

San Agustin Church in Manila

The Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustín was the first church built on the island of Luzon in 1571, immediately after the Spanish conquest of Manila. A site within the district of Intramuros was assigned to the Augustinian Order, the first to evangelize in the Philippines. In 1587 the impermanent earliest building in wood and palm fronds was replaced by a stone church and monastery in stone, the latter becoming the Augustinian mother house in the Philippines. It was the only structure in Intramuros to survive the liberation of Manila in 1945. Miag-ao became an independent parish in 1731, when a simple church and convento were built. However, destruction of the town by Muslim pirates in 1741 and 1754 led to the town being rebuilt in a more secure location. The new church, constructed in 1787–97, was built as a fortress, to withstand further incursions. It was, however, damaged severely by fire during the revolution against Spain in 1898 and in the Second World War. Two bell towers were added in 1854, but the northern one cracked in the 1880 earthquake and had to be demolished. In the interior of the church the wall paintings date from the 19th century, but they overlie the original tempera murals. As a result, the church was richly endowed, with a fine retablo, pulpit, lectern and choir-stalls. Of special interest is the series of crypto-collateral chapels lining both sides of the nave. The walls separating them act as buttresses. The stone barrel vault, dome, and arched vestibule are all unique in the Philippines. A monastery complex was formerly linked to the church by a series of cloisters, arcades, courtyards and gardens, but all except one building were destroyed in 1945.

Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte

The Church of San Agustín at Paoay is the most outstanding example in the Philippines of ‘Earthquake Baroque’. Fourteen buttresses are ranged along the lines of a giant volute supporting a smaller one and surmounted by pyramidal finials. A pair of buttresses at the midpoint of each nave wall have stairways for access to the roof. The lower part of the apse and most of the walls are constructed of coral stone blocks, the upper levels being finished in brick, but this order is reversed on the facade. The massive coral stone bell tower, which was added half a century after the church was completed, stands at some distance from the church, again as a protection against damage during earthquakes.

Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur

Unlike other town churches in the Philippines, which conform to the Spanish tradition of sitting them on the central plaza, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria with its convento are on a hill surrounded by a defensive wall. Also unusual are the sitting of the convento parallel to the facade of the church and that of the separate bell tower (characteristic of Philippine-Hispanic architecture) at the midpoint of the nave wall. This was dictated by the hill on which it is located. The brick church follows the standard Philippine layout, with a monumental facade masking a straight roof-line covering a long rectangular building. It is alleged to be built on a solid raft as a precaution against earthquake damage. The walls are devoid of ornament but have delicately carved side entrances and strong buttresses.

Miag-ao Church in Iloilo

The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miagao, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. It is the finest surviving example of ‘Fortress Baroque’. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of Saint Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miagao, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. It is the finest surviving example of ‘Fortress Baroque’. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of Saint Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan

The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miagao, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. It is the finest surviving example of ‘Fortress Baroque’. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of Saint Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, Davao Oriental

The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miagao, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. It is the finest surviving example of ‘Fortress Baroque’. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of Saint Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.