Magallanes Village in Makati is known as that posh village that straddles along the busy chokepoint thoroughfares that are EDSA and Osmeña Highway/South Luzon Expressway. As such, it would be easy to not notice its presence, if not for the presence of an iconic landmark there: the Catholic parish church of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, also known as the Magallanes Church.
The Magallanes Church was first built in 1968, bearing the design of a future National Artist named Leandro V. Locsin, who was on his way to becoming the country’s most prominent architect. As many of his previous works, Locsin designed the original Magallanes Church to be intimate, thus the low ceiling and a “dark interior”. The church itself was situated in a perfect square perimeter, with the center aisle leading to the altar placed in a diagonal position. In addition, the church itself was surrounded by 28 concrete balusters of four meters in height, seemingly supporting the roof portion of the church.
In time, the church grew to become one of the busiest churches in the metropolis, as the area surrounding the church, including the roads nearby, grew as well, albeit at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the church when it became victim of a huge fire in September 2004, It was a fire so huge that as the flames died and the smoke cleared, the church was left in utter ruin, with only the balusters and portions of the exterior wall remaining intact.
Plans were soon made to rebuild the church; it was decided that the remnants of the old church, particularly the balusters, will be preserved to serve as the foundation of the new church, so to speak. The task of reconstruction fell into the hands of Architect Dominic Galicia, who proceeded to give the rebuilt church a radical new look that would symbolize the rebirth of Magallanes Church, in more ways than one.
The result was the new Magallanes Church which was completed in 2007, a soaring roof structure that increased the height from 6 meters of the original Locsin structure to 28 meters. The soaring roof consists of the 13 roof vaults (representing Jesus and the 12 Apostles) that ascend to the 7th roof vault before descending in parallel heights.
Seating capacity was also increased from 300 to 900 with the addition of a mezzanine. Unlike the intimate interior of the original church, the reconstructed church sports a more bright interior now, thanks to the presence of the windows located on the roof vaults.
The restoration works also extended outside the church walls as well, as other parts of the church have been rehabilitated, like the baptistry which is a separate facility in the area.
But probably the most impressive part of the church can be seen outside the church walls, where one can see the Stations of the Cross given various interpretations by different artists such as National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva, Abdulmari “Toym” De Leon Imao, Jr., Ros Arcilla, Raphael Arcilla, Tito Sanchez, Francisco Verano, Jose Mendoza, Ramon Orlina, Juan Sajid, Priscillano Vicaldo, Jr., Solomon Saprid, Eduardo Castrillo, Antonio Mondejar, and even Dominic Galicia himself. Given that the church is dedicated to the one who instituted the Way of the Cross as a Catholic devotional tradition, it seems apt that these artworks exist. Though ironically, the “stations” followed here were not the ones Liguori originally instituted.
Following the path of the Stations of the Cross leads to an impressively-designed memorial garden called the Garden of the Risen Christ, featuring a sculpture of a risen Jesus Christ above a pond and surrounded by rows of tombs.
The Magallanes Church stands today as a symbol of hope and rebirth that should serve as an inspiration in our lives to rise up and be better and an inspiration as well for our architectural heritage, especially those left in a state of neglect and decay, that they be given a new lease of life and serve as symbols for a better future for our metropolis anchored on an appreciation of its past.