200 year old Bamboo organ, Las Piñas

The Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas now a suburb of Manila, built from 1816-1824 by Fr Diego Cera, the Spanish born parish priest.  This organ, built in late Spanish baroque style, has 1032 pipes.  For more technical detail, please follow this link to an analysis made by an organ specialist.  Good work !  Why bamboo ? Bamboo is a grass, which grows plentifully, yet it’s also very strong, and properly treated can be one of the most resilient natural fibres.  Many things are made from bamboo from ships to houses and furniture, and of course musical instruments like xylophone. Woven it makes ropes and semi waterproof mats. The shoots are edible, and a staple of many cuisines.  Plus bamboo has a hollow centre, ideal for making pipes.
This region of the Philippines is subject to earthquakes, typhoons, and floods.  The combination of candles and matshed roofing common in Catholic churches in Asia before the 19h century meant that many also burned down, like Sao Paolo in Macau.  Please read my article The Ruins of St Paul – Japanese baroque.   The church at Las Piñas is built of local stone, though the roof is lined with bamboo poles laid side by side.  In the 1880’s the building was hit by a series of natural disasters. 
 In 1975, the organ at last received a major restoration, each component shipped to Germany, repaired and reassembled, taking into consideration the warm, damp tropical climate it would return to. I can remember the fanfare which marked the organ’s return to Las Piñas. The Bamboo Organ is now par of the tourist trail, as well as being part of a large and thriving community. The sound is distinctive, and the church hosts an annual music festival which has attracted international players.  At one time I had a whole collection of recordings on cassette (remember them ?)  A few clips below to illustrate: 

Original Source: 200 year old Bamboo organ, Las Piñas


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