Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin
Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin
Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin
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Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin

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Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin
Series: Fifty Shades of Philippine Art
Copyright © 2022 Vibal Foundation, Inc.


With Foreword by Regalado Trota José
Photography by Edd Castro 

Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin is a comprehensive architectural survey of the major heritage churches of the Spanish colonial era that were built due to the evangelization efforts along the Río Grande de Cagayan, the longest and most capacious river system of the Philippines. This surveying of the architectonic elements of these beautiful houses of worship starts at the river’s mouth where the earliest Spanish colonization took place, proceeding upriver until reaching the headwaters at the foothills of the Caraballo mountains.

Each survey encompasses the history of a church and its urban settlement, the description of its features, the measurement and typification of its major architectonic elements, and finally a critique of its aesthetics and conservation aspects. Copiously illustrated with specially drawn-up floor plans, photographs, and archival material, this art book not only sheds light on the church builders, the Dominican order in particular, but also the anonymous artists and builders who together worked on a hauntingly original and distinctive regional constructive art to form a unique “Cagayan style” from the late sixteenth until the nineteenth century. Together these churches remain as witnesses to more than three centuries of faith and proud heritage of the townsfolk of the Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya provinces.


Galván took down the measurements of the churches all along the Cagayan river basin and more, created this body of work unique for any region in the country. The union of physical observation with historical studies makes this book a viable appreciation of our church cultural heritage.

—Regalado Trota José, Archivist 
Archivo de la Universidad de Santo Tomás, Manila



Preface  vii
Introduction: A Gift for the Gifted by Regalado Trota José   ix

Chapter 1: The Religious Orders and Their Constructive Works  3
The Dominicans in the Philippines: The Province of the Most Holy Rosary  5
The Cagayan River Valley 10
The Dominicans in Cagayan 11
Notes on documentary sources 17

Chapter 2: Dominican Architecture in the Cagayan River Basin 23

Floor plans 23
Façades 27
Bell towers 29

Chapter 3: Heritage Churches of Cagayan Province 32
Alcala 34
Buguey 39
Enrile 42
Gattaran 46
Iguig 48
Lal-lo 52
Rizal 56
Nassiping 60
Pamplona 65
Tuguegarao Cathedral 68
Tuguegarao (Ermita) 73
Other Cagayan Churches 76

Chapter 4: Heritage Churches of Isabela 82
Alicia 84
Cauayan 88
Gamu 93
Ilagan 97
San Pablo 100
Tumauini 109

Chapter 5: Heritage Churches of Nueva Vizcaya 120
Bagabag 123
Bambang 126
Bayombong 131
Dupax del Sur 135

Timeline of the Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin 140
Glossary of Spanish and English Architectural Terms 142
Author’s Field Sketches of Cagayan Heritage Churches 146
Table of Church Floor Plans by Century and Typology of Church Floor Plans 147

Bibliography 148

Index 152


JAVIER GALVÁN GUIJO obtained his architectural degree and his doctorate at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid with his dissertation, “Arquitectura y urbanismo de origen español en el Pacífico occidental.” Galván has written and lectured widely on Spanish Philippine and Pacific architectural heritages, spearheading the organization of the First International Congress on Fil-Hispanic Architecture and co-editing its papers in the anthology Endangered (2005). He has been the director of Instituto Cervantes de Rabat (Morocco) and Orán (Algeria) and twice the director of Manila (2001–2006 and 2019–present). In recognition of his efforts to promote Hispano-Filipino patrimony and Spanish-Philippine relations, he was conferred the Order of Presidential Merit by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica by King Juan Carlos I.



To purchase the book:

Vibal Shop bit.ly/heritagechurchescagayan



Vibal Foundation Facebook post

National Museum of the Philippines feature

Art Plus Magazine feature on the book launch 

Press Release: VFI to Launch Fifty Shades: Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin



Fifty Shades of Philippine Art is a series of affordable and concisely written books on fine, modern, or popular art. Among its titles are Isabelo Tampinco by Santiago Pilar (2018), Toti Cerda by Laya Boquiren (2019), Francisco V. Coching by Andrea Peterson (2019), Damián Domingo by Luciano P. R. Santiago (2020), Philippine Cinematic Art by Andrea Peterson, Gaspar A. Vibal, Christopher Datol, and Nick Lajom (2020), and The Art of Window, Display, and Design (2021) by Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo.