The Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas
Music is a universal language and is said to be the language of the soul, In order to enjoy it, it must come from something. Music from a piano or from an ordinary organ is nice music, but what's nicer and rare is music from an unusual instrument called "The Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas." Listen its history.
This organ which is made up mostly of bamboo dates back to the Spanish era. It's a national treasure and a world heritage as well. Everyone is invited to take a glimpse of it as well as listen to its music as it is played here at the St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas
The Bamboo Organ makes the city of Las Piñas unique. Besides bringing honor to the city, it is a legal Philippine National Treasure having been proclaimed on November 24, 2003 by the National Museum of the Philippines for “it is the only 19th century Bamboo Organ in the Philippines that has survived and is still functioning.” This musical instrument is composed of 1,031 pipes, 902 of which are bamboos while the rest are metals.
A glimpse of history
Fr. Diego Cera Dela Virgen Del Carmel is the maker of this world-famous bamboo organ. He came from the town of Graus, Huesca, Spain and resided in the Philippines from 1795 to 1830 as a Spanish missionary, serving for the same period as first parish priest of Las Piñas during the Spanish era.
Fr. Diego Cera started work with the bamboo organ in 1816 while the St. Joseph Parish Church, which he was also its builder, was still under construction. it was completed 8 years after in 1824 after he decided to finish the trumpet stops using metal, musical characteristics of which he could not replicate with bamboo. It has seen a lot of security problems since then.
During the 1880s, a typhoon and an earthquake destroyed the roof of the church, leaving the bamboo organ exposed to nature’s elements. Rainwater and pebbles got inside the organ case, destroying the instrument and making it unplayable for years. After that, the pipes were stored in the old sacristy and were forgotten until around 1917 when a tourist rediscovered its beauty.
Restoration work on the bamboo organ began in 1972. Johannes Klais Orgelbau won the contract for repair and had the organ shipped all the way to Bonn, Germany in 1973. After about a couple of years, the bamboo organ was back in form to its homeland in 1975.
Built between 1797 and 1819, the St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas which is about 10 kms south of Manila houses the Bamboo Organ. Its address is P. Diego Cera Ave., Manuyo, Poblacion, Las Piñas City.
"He came to the Philippines to build organs, and when he arrived, there was neither metal, nor suitable wood, nor tanned leather, nor wire, nor pipes, nor keys, nor anything else with which organs were usually made; but with a genius worthy of an eighteenth century Edison, he rose to the occasion and built an organ of bamboo.” – George Miller, 1912
Festival and Foundation
This work of art is celebrated every February through the International Bamboo Organ Festival. The Bamboo Organ Foundation Inc. takes charge of organizing this annual musical and cultural event in cooperation with the people of Las Piñas. The festival’s aim is to pursue and develop the rich cultural tradition of Las Piñas, with the cooperative effort of a number of established foreign and local artists. It attracts a lot of local and foreign tourists, as well as all kinds of music aficionados.
The Bamboo Organ Foundation Inc. is a non-stock and non-profit group that endeavors to preserve and maintain the Bamboo Organ. Aside from organizing the yearly festival, it is also involved in the educational, spiritual and social enrichment of the people in the city. The foundation has also sent scholars to Austria who have managed to make a name for themselves in their chosen fields.
The foundation also operates a souvenir shop and manages a museum in the Padre Diego Cera Hall where one can find significant artifacts of the bamboo organ and the church. The group also offers a membership program for members to enjoy some benefits.
Tour package rate is Php50 per person, and it is best to visit while the bamboo organ is being played during 8am-12noon and 2-6pm daily.
Source: Bamboo Organ
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