|LAS PIÑAS Old town, new city
|Source: Manila Bulletin
|Author: Mary Anne Conde
According to Cynthia Villar, wife
of former Speaker and now
senatorial bet Manny Villar, Las
Piñas has a lot to offer in terms
of tourism. She pointed out that
its strategic location, only 15
minutes from the airport, makes
it an ideal stop for tourists who
have few hours to spend on a
“We have a the Bamboo Organ;
salt beds or the old way of
harvesting salt; the jeepney factories; and Plaza Quezon, where
parols were originally made,” she noted.
The city, which is one of the seven towns and cities in Metro
Manila, is bounded by the cities of Muntinlupa, Cavite, and
Parañaque. It is also one of the earliest settlement sites during the
Old barrio, new city
In the 18th century, Las Piñas was a humble barrio of Parañaque.
However, life in this fishing village with 1,200 inhabitants changed
with the arrival of Fr. Diego Cera, a Spanish missionary, in 1797.
Under his guidance, roads and bridges were constructed, and
profitable industries such as dye-making, salt production, and
handicrafts were introduced. He was also responsible for the
construction of the St. Joseph Church and the famous Bamboo
Organ. Unfortunately, in 1832, Fr. Cera was forced to return to
Spain because of failing health.
In more recent times, the construction of the South Super Highway
and Coastal Road boosted the development of Las Piñas into a
major urban center. On February 12, 1997, it was formally
proclaimed a “city” under the Ramos Administration.
Today, Las Piñas has the distinction of being one of NCR’s
cleanest and greenest cities and was recently conferred the
presidential award for being the Best Performing LGU (local
government unit) in the fight against illegal drugs. And the
residents are privileged to have free health services and
hospitalization, free education from preschool to college (or
vocational through the city’s Manpower School or TESDA), and
even free burial.
Amidst the flurry of activity of a busy city is a quiet strip which
remembers a distant past. Visitors will be taken back into time, to
18th century Las Piñas where the roads (or sidewalks) are paved
with cobblestones and the streets are lined with red-brick
structures featuring a distinct Spanish influence. This is Diego
Cera street, which was renovated to look like it did some 200
The program dubbed the “Historical Corridor Project,” is
spearheaded by the city’s two leaders, Rep. Manny Villar and City
Mayor Nene Aguilar. It covers the Old District of Baranggay
Manuyo, all the way to Daniel Fajardo, E. Aldana, Ilaya, Pulang
Lupa, and Zapote.
“We wanted to imitate what they have in Europe, where they
preserve their old cities,” said Mrs. Villar. A bill, which sought to
declare Diego Cera street as a historical place and therefore
entitled to support from the government, was passed in Congress.
It declared that houses or structures standing or being built along
the street should adhere to the 18th century motif.
Aside from the St. Joseph church, other structures on the street
having architectural design are the TESDA and New District
Hospital, which was renovated under Rep. Villar’s Countrywide
And of course, what’s a trip to Las Piñas without visiting the
famous Bamboo Organ. This centuries-old instrument housed in
the St. Joseph Church is a result of the ingenuity of Fr. Diego
Cera. The Spanish father saw that bamboo was readily available
and thought of using it to build an organ. He took hundreds of
bamboo poles and buried them in the sand for a year to it be
treated by salt water. This way preserved them at the same time
protected them from termites. Bamboo was very practical to use
because of its cylindrical shape.
Armando Salarza, the titular organist (and unofficial Bamboo
Organ historian), was the first scholar to be trained in Austria. He
said that there are 1,031 bamboo pipes and 129 metal trumpets
which were imported from Mexico. Today, the organ is about 80
During a visit to the church he favored us with a few classical
If you want to visit another point of interest I suggest a visit to the
Mary Immaculate Church. Also known as the “Nature Church,” it
holds true to its name with its unique features: The church is an
open pavilion. The ceiling is just a very large salakot (a traditional
hat) held up by sturdy wooden posts and the church itself is
surrounded by lush greenery.
Instead of pews, there are polished tree stumps while the altar is
made of driftwood. Behind the altar is a wooden sculpture of the
Madonna and Child sitting amidst leafy greens and a wooden
image of Jesus Christ backed on a tree instead of a cross.
The design of the church was the idea of the Italian parish priest,
Fr. Rogliaridi Pierino.
[ St. Joseph Church Wiki ]