As far as Filipinos are concerned, churches are an indelible part of life. With 86 percent of the population made up of Catholics, is it any wonder? Even if you're more of a tourist than a devotee, though, you wouldn't want to miss these six spots that'll take your breath away no matter how many times you see them.
Santuario De San Antonio Parish
Address: 3117 McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati City
If there's one church that has "prestige" written all over it, it's Santuario De San Antonio. Located inside the exclusive Forbes Park, this is one of the go-to churches for celebrity weddings. It's named after St. Anthony of Padua, a Portuguese Franciscan friar whose tongue was said to have been intact even after three centuries of his death, and was considered the "finder of lost articles" by Catholics.
Although Santuario De San Antonio looks simple from the outside, its air-conditioned interiors are well-polished and maintained, and there's a certain Spanish-era charm to the place. Also, if you want to get married here, you have to make reservations at least three months in advance, and make an initial deposit of Php5,000 (around US$100).
St. Andrew the Apostle Parish
Address: Nicanor Garcia St. cor. Kalayaan Ave., Bel-Air, Makati City
Considering how Philippine churches are usually designed, St. Andrew the Apostle Parish stands out. Conceptualized by National Artists Leandro Locsin and Vicente Manansala, this church has a tent-like shape, a butterfly-shaped floor plan, and an X-shaped cross on the roof as a nod to how St. Andrew died. Some of the masses are in Tagalog, so be sure to ask the staff about the schedules of masses in English if you're a non-Tagalog speaker.
St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish
Address: Humabon St., Magallanes Village, Makati City
Also known as the "Magallanes Church," the St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish grabs your attention when you cruise along the busy South Luzon Expressway. With overlapping white arches that are reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, this church stands out from the otherwise quiet, rustic surroundings.
Like the St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, this one was designed by Leandro Locsin. It's also named after the saint whose full name was Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori, who's known among Catholics as the patron saint of the apostolate, confessors and moral theologians.
Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church
Address: 7440 Bernardino St., Makati City
Don't let the old appearance of this church fool you. Built in the early seventeenth century, the Nuestra Señora de Gracia church — or simply the "Guadalupe church" — has been through much in its over 400 years of existence. It has survived the 1658 earthquake, the 1880 earthquake and two major wars (i.e. the Filipino-American war and World War II).
You can easily reach this church via the Guadalupe MRT station. It's only a few blocks away, and you can ride a jeepney if you'd rather not walk under the hot Philippine weather. The façade is a mish-mash of different architectural styles, but the interior is surprisingly peaceful for a church situated in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.
San Pedro Makati Church
Address: 5539 D.M. Rivera St., Poblacion, Makati City
You can also call this the "Poblacion Church" or "St. Peter and Paul Church," though the latter is more confusing because there's a similarly named church in Pangasinan. Located in Poblacion, a cultural and heritage district, this is considered the oldest church in Makati City. Even though it was built in 1620, and underwent several renovations, San Pedro Makati Church still managed to retain most of its original majesty.
Like most Spanish churches, this one follows a Baroque style of architecture. It's easy to find even in the middle of busy Poblacion, because it's close to the St. Paul College of Makati and the Plaza Cristo Rey (formerly a cemetery). If you'd like to get a feel for how medieval Makati was like, this is the place to visit.
St. John Bosco Parish Church
Address: Arnaiz Ave. cor. Amorsolo St., Makati City
Similar to the St. Andrew Parish and Magallanes Church, this one has a modern architecture. Its pavilion-like exterior gives it an open feel, which reinforces visitors' impression that this is a community-centered church. At the same time, the homey interiors make it easier to pray and meditate whenever you need to.
Lucky for non-Tagalog speakers, the St. John Bosco Parish Church also offers masses in English. You'll also find people from all walks of life here, which makes sense considering its emphasis on community. Whether you're from San Lorenzo, Legaspi or Pio del Pilar, this church has something for you.
A Few More Words
Of course, these aren't the only churches in Makati City. You can also find chapels all over the place, like the ones in malls(!). However, in terms of making a strong first impression on visitors, few places can beat these six. Pay a visit to one or more of them, and see if you're not amazed enough to convert — assuming you aren't a Christian/Catholic already!