French President François Hollande was recently guest of honor for the inauguration of the exhibit entitled Encounters: World Heritage Baroque Churches of the Philippines at the National Museum of the Philippines on the occasion of his historic state visit to the Philippines last February 26, 2015.

The exhibit features 99 large-scale photographs of the exceptional church heritage of the Philippines seen through the eyes of French photographer and baroque expert Ferrante Ferranti.

French President François Hollande and Ferrante Ferranti.

The exhibit is the first achievement of the administrative agreement for cultural cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, which was signed during the official visit of President Benigno Aquino III to France in September 2014.

The ceremony was attended by Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Linglingay Fonacier-Lacanlale, National Museum Chairperson Ramon del Rosario, Jr., National Museum Director Jeremy Barns, National Museum Assistant Director Ana Labrador, National Commission on Culture and Arts Chairperson Felipe de Leon, Jr., Ferrante Ferranti, and Alliance française de Manille Director Patrick Deyvant.

President Hollande was impressed by the “beautiful exposition” as he was toured personally by photographer Ferrante Ferranti.

Saint Vincent Ferrer Church, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur.

With the launch of 2015 as “Visit the Philippines” year by the Department of Tourism, the exhibit highlights the historic baroque churches of the country, inviting viewers to experience Filipino heritage through photographs.

San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila.

This exhibit is the result of Ferranti’s two-week visit to the country in June 2014, where he traveled to the Immaculate Conception de San Agustin in Manila, La Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion in Ilocos Sur, Church of San Agustin in Ilocos Norte, and Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Iloilo, among others. The exhibit contextualizes Philippine heritage within the colonial world by featuring photos of Filipino churches alongside photos of other baroque churches in Latin America and India as part of the French photographer’s project for the past 30 years.

Church of San Miguel Archangel, Argao, Cebu.

Encounters is also immensely relevant in raising awareness about the destructive effects of climate change and the need to protect heritage, important topics which will be addressed at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris this December.

Culili, Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

Among the churches featured in the exhibit are those located in Bohol and in Eastern Samar, two provinces that were heavily affected by natural disasters, such as the Bohol earthquake of October 2013 and Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

Church of La Inmaculada Concepción, Guiuan, Samar.

The exhibit runs until April 26, 2015 at the Old Senate Session Hall of the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila. The exhibit is open for public viewing from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.

The National Museum of the Philippines is located at Padre Burgos Ave., Rizal Park, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines