“The church of San Agustin possesses exceptional universal value that deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity” – UNESCO

I’m not much of a church goer, but when I saw what has become of the oldest stone church in the country, the “mother of all churches,” the San Agustin Church in Intramuros Manila; I can’t help but speak out against what I believe is a veritable sacrilege done to its exterior walls.


San Agustin’s new facade, I think,  is similar to what folks over at MMDA does in their sidewalk painting jobs under its Urban Facelift Program. But seriously though, what infuriated me was the fact that contractors cemented and painted over the church’s magnificent centuries old adobe bricks.


Here’s how they did it:


The San Agustin Church was among the four Agustinian churches in the Philippines declared in 1993 by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

It was the place where the Spaniards inked their surrender after lording over the country for more than three hundred years. It has withstood countless earthquakes, typhoons and even wars in its more than 400 years of existence.

But now, my favorite church looks like a prosaic MMDA project minus the Metro Guwapo sign. Sad.

What do you think?


  1. It looks okay, like some rushed and mediocre newly erected Catholic church in x following a certain design principle that fits into a theme or something. And that’s what’s SO WRONG about it because San Agustin church is not a new structure that can just sprout in someplace that’s trying to get a look / an identity. With that “upgrade” they defiled the sacredness of the structure as a witness to the major historical events, the craftmanship of its original planners and builders, the essence of its importance as heritage. Its character is robbed. Probably forever.

    If their concern is keeping the integrity of the structure, or their argument ensuring the safety of the faithful, they failed to realize, even ignore, the fact that there are other, more genius, more crafty, more sensitive ways to treat this grand old building.

  2. hi battlesmith, thanks for the comment. you’re right, they took away the church’s character and history with what they did.

  3. macky, thanx for linking to my blog. I would like to comment on this.

    The San Agustin church is having a new paletada. that is a coating of lime and like what was done during the spanish era, this is done to protect the stones of the church. In many colonial era churches, walls, cemeteries and even houses, during the Spanish times, not only in the country but in Mexico, Spain, even India, putting the paletada is right since if it is not there, the stones will crumble due to weathering and the elements. Look at what is happening to the front of Malate Church, it’s very sad that the stones are crumbling because the paletada is no longer there.

    In San Agustin’s case, the old process was followed and the color was incorporated al fresco.

    We have the wrong notion that bare church wall is romantic or ideal but in fact, it is very dangerous and damaging to the structure. If I would have my way, I would want that the paletada, done the right way, should be brought back to all the remaining old churches in the country. Not by coating the surface with cement as this is also damaging.

    I hope this clarifies it.

  4. thanks for the visit estan, nice job on your blog.

    but they cemented over San Agustin’s walls, did they? or was it lime?

    either way, I think they could have done a better job.

  5. macky, cement is not being used as it’s not recommended. they are covering the deteriorated areas with lime before proceeding with the actual paletada. what you showed above is preliminary preparation only. I will be making a more detailed post on the importance of the paletada and what is done in San Agustin in an upcoming post at Yun nga lang, I’m still doing the research.


  6. ok that would be nice.

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