Known for his affinity for building liturgical structures, José María V. Zaragoza is considered as one of the country’s most renowned and prominent architects. He was recently recognized for his outstanding work as President Benigno Aquino III conferred the National Artist Award (albeit posthumously) in April 2016 together with eight other National Artists. Zaragoza is now one of the country’s five National Artists for Architecture joining the ranks of Leandro Locsin, Pablo Antonio, Juan Nakpil, and Ildefonso Santos.
Born on December 6, 1912, Zaragoza obtained his degree in architecture at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. In 1938, two years after his graduation, he passed the licensure examinations and became the 82nd architect of the Philippines. In the late 50s, he studied at the International Institute of Liturgical Art (IILA) in Rome, Italy where he earned his diploma in liturgical art and architecture.
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Zaragoza designed 36 office buildings, 4 hotels, 2 hospitals and took on over 270 residential projects.
Zaragoza is also behind the designs of the Meralco Building in Ortigas, the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu City.
St. John Bosco Parish Makati (Don Bosco Church)
Built in 1977, Don Bosco Church is located at the crossroads of Amorsolo Street and Arnaiz Avenue in Makati. Adjacent to the church is Don Bosco Technical Institute (Don Bosco Makati) that is also owned and operated by the Salesians of Don Bosco. The school and church were both named after Saint John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Society.
A native of Piedmont, Italy, Don Bosco was an Italian priest, writer, and educator who dedicated his life to helping disadvantaged youth. He was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Pius XI in 1934.
Union Church of Manila
Standing in the site of the former Zaragoza-designed structure of the Union Church of Manila in Legazpi Village is the recently constructed dome-type edifice that was built by the UCM Philippines Foundation, Inc. in partnership with Ayala Corporation.
Established in 1914 by an agreement of the American Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Church, the Union Church of Manila was one of those affected by the expiration of the Laurel-Langley Agreement which prevented foreign ownership of land in the country.
Before its present location, UCM first housed its congregates at the Emerson Chapel on Padre Faura Street in Malate, and later relocated to a property on Buendia Avenue. Both properties were eventually sold. They later signed a 50-year lease on a piece of land located at the corner of Legazpi and Rada Streets in Makati. Halfway through their lease, they entered into an agreement with the Ayalas which gave two-thirds of their leased land in exchange for permanent ownership for the rest. While unappealing, this gave them the peace of mind of having a place to call their permanent home.
In 1999, construction of the new church finally started after the intricate structure designed by José María V. Zaragoza was demolished. True to his creative artistry, the old church had a salakot-styled roof (traditional wide-brimmed hat from the Philippines) that made it a unique addition to the skyscrapers that surrounded Makati’s Central Business District.
Today, the present structure is a far cry from the original Zaragoza-designed church that once stood in its place.
The Manila Project
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- The Philippine Star
- Union Church of Manila
- St. John Bosco Parish Makati
- Salesians of Don Bosco
- National Commission for Culture and the Arts