CM Recto Ave., Poblacion, Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines
Tel. No. +63 (43) 981-1160
Administered by the Augustinians beginning April 30, 1605 (and until the end of the 19th century) under the name “Convent of San Sebastian in Comintang” the first church building was made of light materials. The present building of “serious architecture, proven solidity and great proportions” began to be constructed through the concerted efforts of the Augustinians who administered the Parish of San Sebastian and the faithful people of Lipa : in 1779, Fray Ignacio Vasquez Pallares, later on continued by Fray Manuel Galiana in 1787, and its spacious transept completed in 1865 during the term of Fray Manuel Diez Gonzalez.
The church was totally completed from 1865 to 1894 during the administration of Fray Benito Baras to whom Lipeños attribute their religiosity. He was also responsible for the erection of the Catholic Cemetery in Antipolo and, without any aid from the state, the bridge at Sabang, and the road that served as a national highway to Manila and Laguna.
To protect the big and attractive church from earthquakes, it was made of hewn stone and tiled roof,a rectangular structure with the ceiling constituted of artistically painted wooden paneling in lieu of an arch to which were attached supports and strong beams crisscrossing the walls. Before, it had plain and simple altar ornaments without the extravagant carvings characteristic of the past. During the 19th century, intense competition among the towns of Batangas, Bauan, Lipa, Taal and Tanauan, for the selection of the seat of the new diocese in the Southern Tagalog Region, motivated the people to build extraordinary big churches. However on April 10, 1910, when the historic foundation of the new diocese took place, its first bishop, Most Rev. Joseph Petrelli, D.D, chose LIPA as the SEE because of its cool climate. For this reason, the San Sebastian church automatically became the Cathedral of the Diocese of LIPA.
The church suffered massive damages during the Second World War. During the 1950s, Msgr. Alejandro Olalia spearheaded the restoration– the interior painting retouched and two-side aisles were added. In the year 2000, to prevent the Cathedral’s complete deterioration, immense refurbishments and adornment were lead by then parish priest, Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan. All these works for the splendor of the San Sebastian Cathedral were realized through the support, generosity and commitment over the years by countless faithful, many of whom will remain nameless.
The church also features an attracting grand baroque designed pipe organ which is the only one in Batangas Province and one of only 59 units in the Philippines.
The San Sebastian Cathedral is now a synergetic composition of structure for worship, religious art appreciation and functionality.
(slideshow photos courtesy of Alexis Paulino)