The bamboo organ of Las Piñas is only made of cheap materials—bamboo, wood, and metal pipes—yet its melodious sound and classic Spanish style have lured tourists from all over the globe, working much like the magic of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Almost every organist in the world is said to have heard about it. It is even more famous in Las Piñas than the national heroes that fought for freedom in the city. This may not come as a surprise for some since the organ, made in 1824 by Spanish friar and scientist Diego Cera, is the only known organ in the world to be made entirely of bamboo, although its trumpet stops are made from metal.
Housed inside the Parish of St. Joseph, the bamboo organ has been officially declared as a “national treasure” by the National Museum of the Philippines. Together with the church and its surrounding structures, the organ has been restored to its original 19th century look by famous Filipino architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa. The organ and the church have already gone through many makeovers, one of which required taking the organ to Germany, since many typhoons and earthquakes have damaged it throughout the course of its past.
When the organ was returned to Las Piñas in March 1975, the people welcomed it with much fanfare. Since then, the city started to mount the International Bamboo Organ Festival, a series of concerts held every February, featuring the church’s choir and international opera singers, as accompanied by the music of the organ. The festival today is considered as the country’s longest-running international festival.
Fees and opening hours
The bamboo organ is played twice a day (6 a.m. and 6 p.m.) during masses. Every Sunday, the organ is being played every mass (6 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.). It is free to see and take photos of the organ. The organ can also be played at any time of the day through sending a prior notice to Caesar Antonio or Lhet Aranda at tel. no. (+632) 510-3839, address: P. Diego Cera Avenue, Poblacion, Las Piñas City, Philippines 1744, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get there
The best way to reach the bamboo organ is through a private car or a taxi ride from anywhere in Manila (taxi flag down rate: P30).