A second structural component of the San Agustín Church that may help explain its resilience to earthquakes is its lateral bays that act as interior buttressing.
This is completely different from all the colonial churches where the wall buttresses flare out at the exterior side of the church walls.
Within each compartmentalized bay is a side chapel. Seven side chapels line the entire length of each side of the nave, making a total of fourteen, of which twelve remain. The buttresses are thereby inside the church, with the side chapels between them.
Items of great interest include a gilded Baroque pulpit decorated with a pineapple finial, a 17th-century carved and inlaid choir stalls, twenty-five huge paintings by Fuster and Enriquez, a 17th century facistol or lectern carved in Macao and ivory images of the Virgin, San Miguel, a crucifix carved by Juan de los Santos in the 18th century.
The grinning Chinese lions (or fu dogs - See images on previous page), sculpted in stone that stand guard at the entrance of the front courtyard, serve as a reminder of the centuries of cultural and commercial exchange between Filipino and Chinese merchants.
At present there are only twelve side chapels, as one on each side was filled in after the earthquake of 1880.
The Church of San Agustín was built by Juan Macias, a soldier and architect from Spain. It was begun in 1586, and completed in 1606.
Out of appreciation for his work, the Augustinians granted Marcias and his heirs the right of perpetual burial in the church. When Marcias died in 1611, he was buried there in the Chapel of Santa Lucia.
Although Marcias was the architect, a succession of Augustinians were what today would be called the project supervisor, the cleck of works, the manager of supplies, and the site manager.
In this project that took twenty-one years, the first such Augustinian was Francisco Bustos O.S.A., and then successively Idelfonso Perez O.S.A. (beginning in 1590), Diego de Avila O.S.A. (beginning in 1593), and finally Alfonso de Perea O.S.A. until the task was completed in 1607.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: The facade after the 1880 earthquake, before the cracked left tower was removed.
Picture 2: The facade today. Note that the left tower is missing.
Picture 3: The right tower & adjoining part of the monastery today.
To view the photo gallery of the Augustinians in the Philippines in this web site, select Philippines: Province of Cebu and Philippines: Intramuros after you click here.