A Church and a Bamboo Organ

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A centuries-old church and the world’s only bamboo organ convinces one that this is a special place to get married in. Welcome to the Saint Joseph’s Parish of Las Piñas City.

Padre Diego Cera began work on the organ in 1816 while the church was still under construction. Having previously built organs in Manila with some organ stops made of bamboo, he decided to build one using only bamboo for the pipes. Bamboo was abundant in the area and used for hundreds of items. The organ was first heard in 1821, yet without the horizontal trumpets. He completed the work in 1824 after finally deciding to use metal for the horizontal trumpets whose character of sound he could not get with bamboo resonators. These bamboo resonators now stand as the rear facade pipes of the organ.

The final result conforms very closely to the classic Mediterranean organ, built in a style that essentially looked backward to the eighteenth century. It has one manual, divided registers with separate knobs for the bass and treble, horizontal trumpets in the facade, a few short pull-down pedal notes and a few of the favorite effects: Pajaritos and the Tambor. It is a curious fact that the sound of many Spanish and Italian organs built quite late in this tradition have a unique charm, only emphasized in the bamboo organ by the choice of the material.

Down through the years, earthquakes and typhoons damaged both church and organ. The first repairs were still done by Fr. Cera and later by locals who were trained by the builder himself. At the start of the 20th century, the organ is hardly playable. Several attempts were made just to keep it playing until an inevitable restoration is badly needed after the Second World War. In 1972, through the efforts of the CICM priests of St. Joseph’s Parish, Fr. Mark Lessage and Fr. Leo Renier, a contract for restoration was awarded to Johannes Klais Orgelbau of Bonn, Germany. The entire instrument was disassembled and shipped to Germany in 1973 and was restored under climatic conditions simulating those at Las Piñas. The restored organ returned home in March 1975 to a joyous welcome by the people of the Philippines. Since then, as the scene of many concert festivals, the bamboo organ is described by international organ masters as one of the finest old organs in the world.

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Source:

The Official Website of the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ. http://bamboo.diegocera.com/index.htm

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