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Faith of Steel

June 21st, 2008

One cannot find metal buildings in the Philippines, except in Manila. This one and only all steel building standing majestically in Plaza del Carmen, C.M. Recto, Quiapo, Manila, is the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, popularly known as the San Sebastian Church. Its Gothic architecture is patterned after the Great Cathedrals of Europe erected by craftsmen and masons during the medieval period and made out of stone. That is why because of its architectural design and looking at it from a distance, one would never think that the San Sebastian Church is entirely made of steel.

According to history, from Belgium batch upon batch of prefabricated steel were transported by sea to the Philippines and put together to form the neo-Gothic structure of San Sebastian Church. The construction was completed in 1891. UNESCO has recognized San Sebastian Church as the only all steel Church in Asia, and In 2006, it was included in the Tentative List for possible designation as a World Heritage Site.

The Church was built and is still being maintained by the Order of the Augustinian Recollects. But while the Church is all-steel, its parking lot and carports are made of cement and concrete. They could not possibly think of making metal carports during that time. Bambit and I made a stroll to Quiapo sometime last May and the San Sebastian Church was one of our destinations. The picture at left was taken by Bambit.

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