As one cruises down along South Luzon Expressway, specifically in the Magallanes area, one cannot help but get quite a view of a magnificent structure in white, consisting of several layers of pointed arches that somehow is distantly reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, only this one is topped with a single cross. The structure is actually the St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori parish church, more famously known as the Magallanes church.
The Magallanes Church is located along Humabon Street in Magallanes Village, Makati City. The parish used to be under the Parish of San Pedro, Makati, but the parish became too large, prompting a group of ladies from Magallanes Village to conceptualize a separate parish. A 3,890-square meter piece of land was donated by Don Alfonso Zobel for the church and in 1967, Rufino Cardinal Santos, then the Archbishop of Manila, approved the naming of the church after St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, to honor the land donor. Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. James the Apostle were also chosen as secondary patrons, this time in honor of Don Alfonso’s grandmother Carmen Ayala-Roxas and her son Jaime Zobel.
(As a side note: St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, whose full name was Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori, was an Italian Catholic bishop and spiritual writer. He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, more known as the Redemptorists. St. Alphonsus is the patron saint of confessors, moral theologians and the apostolate.)
The architect of the original structure was the famous Leandro Locsin. His design was for an intimate, low parish church whose interiors were dark and that covered 800 square meters. But in September 2004, a fire struck the church, razing it to the ground. With enough fund-raising activities, the community was able to rebuild another church, designed by Architect Dominic Galicia, who preserved the concrete structure that survived the fire. This time, the roof’s height was increased from six to 28 meters, consisting of 13 vaults. The materials used were also selected carefully, to be able to reduce heat and encourage minimal waste and dependence on fossil fuel because of the way it allows in natural light. The church can also now seat as much as 900 people, thrice the original.
Those who prefer to hold their weddings at the Magallanes church love the church’s clean lines and interesting architecture, showing a combination of curves and lines mostly in white and wood that also provide a feeling of intimacy. The altar wall provides an amazing backdrop, tall and curved, partly stained glass and wood-clad concrete. The design is said to symbolize the burning bush of Moses’ time. The church is also fully air conditioned. Beside the church is a carillon bells and tower structure that makes for great photo ops, too.
Weddings in the Magallanes Church are on a first-come, first-served basis, and are usually held on Tuesdays to Saturday, at 9:00 AM and at 3:00 PM, so there is no feeling of rush before or after the ceremony. Aside from the usual church requirements, the church requires a reservation fee of P5,000 and another downpayment of P10,000 upon confirmation. They also require that the wedding planner and florist coordinate with the office; for guest singers to bring their own accompaniment; and for the couple to conduct a wedding rehearsal at least a week before the actual wedding date.
Since it is in Makati, the church is quite accessible. Possible reception venues are plentiful among the hotels and restaurants of Makati City, or even nearby Manila, especially along Roxas Boulevard. Take note, though, of possible problems with traffic and parking.