The National Museum has declared the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo, Manila as a national cultural treasure (NCT) and recognized other structures, places and paintings as important parts of the country’s heritage and history.
The National Museum bestowed the title on the 124-year-old Minor Basilica of San Sebastian as it is the only all-steel temple in Asia, and the only prefabricated steel church in the world.
The National Museum said the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian was “inspired by the Roman Movement of the 18th and 19th centuries” and “a highly associated Neo-Gothic revival style of the Middle Ages.”
The construction of the church was the idea of engineer Genaro Palacios, who was then the director of public works in Manila. He recommended to the Recoletos to use steel instead of stone in building the church. The conceptualizing of the steel structure reportedly also had the participation of Gustav Eiffel, builder of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“The church stands as a marvel in structural engineering skills and artistic creativity with its Gothicized pulpit and confessionals; silver frontals; frescoes and ornaments; delicately wrought ironworks and chandeliers; its twin spires with belfry; and the intricate masssive paintings on colored glass which was freshly introduced to the Philippines by an international multi-awarded studio in Brussels, Belgium,” the National Museum said.
“The Basilica is embellished with remarkable trompe l’oeil of saints and martyrs in niches, the only surviving work of Lorenzo Rocha, a 19th century Filipino prizewinning portraitist. It also houses a magnificent gilded retablo designed by another notable Filipino artist, Lorenzo Guerrero,” the National Museum added.
It has been battling bouts of rusts and corrosion threatening its structure, which is now being addressed.