The Bamboo Organ makes the city of Las Piñas unique. Besides bringing honor to the city, it is a legally proclaimed Philippine National Treasure 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 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. Fray Diego Cera Dela Virgen Del Carmel served as first parish priest of Las Piñas during the Spanish era.
Fr. Diego Cera started work with the bamboo organ in 1816. it was finished 8 years after in 1824. 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.
The Festival and the 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
For this year’s 2013 program of activities for the 38th International Bamboo Organ Festival Celebration covering the period February 21 to 27 kindly click this link.