Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I came across this page while browsing the net which listed the top ten (10) Catholic churches used for weddings. I assume this list is based on the rate of usage of these particular churches, although it's obvious that the list is applicable only for Manila except for Calaruega, which happens to be in Batangas. Here's the list and my personal comments.

1. Chapel of the Transfiguration, Caleruega, Batangas
I haven't been there so no comment for now. I just found out that the facade is a smaller version of the San Nicolas Miranda de Ebro located on Plaza de Santo Domingo in Caleruega, Spain.

2. Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, Manila
There's nothing like getting married in a church of firsts. The first and only all-steel church in Asia and probably the first pre-fabricated building in the world (the Eiffel Tower isn't a building). I have been here on several occassions, once during the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel whose National Shrine this church was once was, and as a lover of history and architecture, I feel giddy during my every visit. It's true that many people find Gothic architecture too dark and eerie but one must look beyond one's (mis)conceptions and see the soaring naves and the spectacular stained glass windows, not to mention the church's jewel-box design which can be most appreciated at night when the facade is lighted up.

3. The Manila Cathedral, Manila
The only cathedral in the world to have been rebuilt 6-7 times, the Manila Cathedral is devoted to our Lady under the title La Purissima de Inmaculada Concepcion, under whose protection the City of Manila runs for aid since the Spanish colonial times. The cathedral was in charge of the spritual well-being of the then new colony. While the cathedral is fully airconditioned (and the guards make sure nobody comes in and takes photos while the Mass is ongoing), the dark & heavy architecture gives it a rather gloomy air. It's mostly grayish so it'd be a challenge for florists to liven it up (and I doubt it if the cathedral is liberal on this regard; styling, that is).

4. San Agustin Church, Manila
Mention San Agustin in Intramuros and the following come to my mind: World Heritage Site, the oldest stone church in the Philippines, the lone church survivor of the bombing of the walled city during WWII, trompe l'oeil murals by Italian painters, burial site of Señor Miguel Lopez de Manila, catacombs (bet you didn't know this!). I have visited its vast museum as a small boy and have continued to revisit every two years. Mention San Agustin to any lay person and "grand weddings" easily come to mind. And why not? There is something extraordinary about getting wed in such a beautiful and historic church. It may be too big though for those who want only intimate gatherings.

5. Sanctuario de San Jose, Greenhills
Why did this church make it to this list and not Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park? No idea. I have seen its facade however and got bowled over by its Mexican Colonial architecture. I heard it's got a looong nave and a soaring altar, so that pretty much allows for spectacular video-photos, methinks.

6. Christ the King, Greenmeadows
Ah, the most popular church this side of the Metro. Airconditioned, spacious and modern (well, not that modern). I'm just troubled by the huge figure of Christ on the altar with a crown four times larger than the statue, but that's just me. TIP: Book as early as you are able. VERY EARLY. Like a year before. I mean it.

7. Our Lady of Montserrat, San Beda College, Manila
There is something really wonderful about university chapels. They usually are awesomely intimate and handsomely decorated (that's where part of the tuition fees go, silly!). Unfortunately, just like all other college and university chapels across the Philippines, the Chapel of San Beda is now closed to weddings. You can still celebrate Mass there though and marvel at the beauty of this particular chapel.

8. St. Pancratius Chapel at the Paco Park, Manila
I was there last December 2008 for
this event and I know how things work in this chapel. There are so many things to improve on in this Park. Cleanliness is one major issue. Cleaning is perfunctory and the trash bins are always emptied late. Safety is also a major concern: the churh's integrity needs a major checkup. Calling NPDC! The facade was flaking (pieces of stone fell off) when we worked there and had to stop what we were doing. Otherwise, a rather charming chapel. The altar isn't the original though, but most of the park still is. Despite a restoration effort gone bad (talk about concrete being used to patch up piedra de china, aaiiieeee!), this place will always be a favorite among couples looking for that unusual location. Plus with a cozy seating capacity of 100 pax, this is the perfect spot for small but memorable celebrations.

9. Malate Church, Manila
I used to attend Mass here every Sunday when I was still living in Las Piñas City and it remains to be amomg my favorite medium-sized churches. It's got a very stately appearance about it, a respectable long aisle, a wonderful cupola resembling an egg yolk and a renovated altar which looks like it's about to be launched into space any time. Kidding aside, I didn't see anything wrong about the former altar except that the parish just needed a reason to spend good money. Anyway, yada yada yada. Just letting that out, sorry. :-)

If by chance you find yourself celebrating Mass here during Saturday evenings, you might be lucky enough to bump into our fashion designers, many of whom still live in Malate. In fact, Pitoy Moreno was once handing out the collection basket my Mom had to pinch me out of my initial shock. Anyway, take advantage of the elbow rubbing and get yourself a fitting appointment.

10. Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo, Manila
For the avant garde and fans of anything kitschy, this is the church for you. Just kidding! Seriously, how can one not be astounded by an altar that was fashioned after the facade of St. Peter's Basilica?! That's kitsch on the highest level indeed. The parishioners obviously have tons of money for such projects. Unfortunately for the purists, the only remaining original parts of this church are the facade and the bell tower. Everything else was destroyed in the war. My grandfather used to donate to this church (he used to live in Tondo) so we frequented it as much as we could (the church, not Tondo). It is really spacious (high & wide ceilings) and is airconditioned.

Anyhow, I will make a list of my own soon. Maybe something like the MANILA's 20 BEST CHURCHES TO GET WED IN. Look out for that one! :-)

Source of the List:

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