At the corner of Kalayaan Avenue and N. Garcia Street (also known by its former name Reposo) in Makati’s Barangay Bel-Air stands a peculiar Catholic church. That church is the St. Andrew the Apostle Church, and while its history is not as long as the metropolis’ other older churches, it has an interesting story to tell in itself. Its design alone is worth starting a conversation about it.
For one, this particular church has a circular design which, while not unique in itself, is an uncommon design that Catholic churches tend to employ. Then, there is its cross at the top which is not the usual “t” or “+” design, but an “x” one. The “x”-shaped cross, formally called a saltire, has significance behind it, as Christian tradition states that Andrew, one of the 12 disciples/apostles of Jesus Christ, was put to death by crucifixion on such a cross. Tradition also adds that Andrew himself chose to be crucified using such a cross as he felt he was unworthy to be crucified on the regular cross (also called the Latin cross) that Christ was crucified onto. So today, this type of cross has also come to be known as the “St. Andrew’s cross”.
The “Andrew” connection, interestingly, goes beyond the church’s name as another “Andrew” helped pave the way for the church itself to be built. Well technically not an “Andrew” but actually an “Andres”. (but still the same name albeit in a different linguistic equivalent) And this particular Andres happens to be Andres Soriano Jr., the head of the conglomerate San Miguel Corporation during the 1960s. He offered to help build a church for the Catholic community of Bel-Air and nearby barangays such as Poblacion, Valenzuela, and Olympia. The church to be built was in honor of his father Andres Soriano Sr., a respected businessman who contributed to the growth of San Miguel Corporation beyond its traditional brewery business and was responsible for the company’s entry into other business like beverages, ice cream, dairy, and even glass manufacturing.
Construction of the church would begin in 1967, employing the round, concrete-heavy design of an up and coming architect named Leandro Locsin. Such an architectural design is nothing new for Locsin; in fact, his first notable work was a round concrete church as well: the Church of the Holy Sacrifice in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus completed in 1955. It’s interesting to note that around this time, the future National Artist was also busy in the design of what would be considered his magnum opus, the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater. Work on the church would be done in about a year’s time and the church was formally on the feast of Saint Andrew on November 30, 1968.
Apart from Locsin, the St. Andrew the Apostle Church also boasts some works of renowned Filipino artists. The cross at the top, for instance, is a work of another National Artist, Vicente Manansala. The baptistry meanwhile boasts works of Napoleon Abueva (who designed the white baptismal font) and Eduardo Castrillo (who created the sculpture as well as the blue baptismal font).
Having recently celebrated its 50th year, the St. Andrew the Apostle Church remains an important landmark for the Catholic community around this part of Makati. It is a unique monument of sorts that honors a community’s Catholic faith, a legacy of a visionary businessman, and the artistry of the Filipino, all rolled into one.
Acknowledgements as well to St. Andrew the Apostle Church