After eight long years of construction, Father Diego Cera finally finished his organ in St. Joseph’s Church in 1824. Although he was forced to include metal stops in the organ to retain its sound, every other piece was built entirely out of bamboo, creating a unique instrument.
Cera was a Spanish priest, stationed in the Philippines, and began building the organ out of practical concerns. Bamboo was everywhere near Manilla, and classic organ materials were hard to come by. The result of his work and the environment, was an organ built in the Spanish style but with an Asian twist.
Immediately after its construction, the church and organ were assailed by mother nature. Earthquakes and flooding struck regularly and Father Cera was forced to begin restoration on the organ shortly after he finished building it. After his death, the organ went into a serious period of decline, even becoming unplayable during the early 21st century and after World War II. Finally, in 1972 a move to restore the organ back to its original luster was undertaken by European contractors.
Today, not only is the organ playable, but it is the centerpiece of a concert called the Bamboo Organ Festival. With its strange construction, the Bamboo Organ has become a legend for organists around the world, who travel across the world to stroke the bamboo keys.
Know Before You Go
Accessible by taxi from Manila