Wednesday, August 02, 2006


My eldest son Bulan always ask me why I keep pictures of old churches. I realized that I have not yet fully explained to him my reasons so one day in October 2005 during his break from school, I took him on one of my trips to Manila for a visita iglesia along the McArthur Highway (my route to and from Manila when the North Luzon Expressway began collecting their new sky high toll fee; I later realized that the traffic and the longer travel time is not worth the P200+ that can be saved).

As a prelude to our McArthur journey, we dropped by the town of Magalang to show him the town’s church since it is along the way. Magalang used to be called as Magalo which means “abundance” in Kapampangan. It was established by the Augustinians in 1605 and was relocated 3 times: from the barrio of Macapsa where the followers of Malong led by Melchor de Vera once battled the Spanish troops garrisoned in the area, to barrio Bartolome in 1734, to its present site in barrio San Pedro in 1863. A church was built in each relocation and the present structure (dedicated to San Bartolome) was started to be constructed by Fr. Ramon Sarrionandia (OSA) in 1875.

The church of Angeles Custodios in Angeles City is the first stop in our McArthur itinerary. The city was said to be named in honor of Capitan Don Angel Pantaleon de Miranda who founded the place. The Augustinians accepted it as a mission in 1830. The church was started to be built in 1860 by Fr. Ramon Sarrionandia (OSA) before he built the Magalang church. It was converted as a field hospital by American soldiers during World War II. Uncle Kidlat’s first wife, Auntie Remy, hails from Angeles City. They have 1 daughter --- our cousin Ma. Christina --- whom I last saw as a toddler when they stayed for some time at the old house in Almaguer. They have separated and I heard that Auntie Remy and our cousin have migrated to Canada.

Our next iglesia after Angeles is the church of Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion in San Fernando City. Fr. Sebastian Moreno (OSA) probably built the present church in 1756. The church and convent were burned by the troops of Gen. Antonio Luna during the 1898 Philippine Revolution. It was later restored but razed by fire again in 1939. Both buildings were rebuilt after World War II. San Fernando was named after King Fernando III of Castille and Leon who was canonized in 1671 by the Roman Catholic Church. It was established as an Augustinian parish in 1754 and was called as the second Parian or Escolta because of the big number of its Chinese population. In 1881, San Fernando became the capital town of Pampanga province.

From San Fernando, we turned right towards the church of Santa Monica in Minalin that was started to be constructed in 1834. The church once had a templete that was used to hold a beacon that will guide fishermen out in the sea. The town’s old name is Minalis --- a Kapampangan word that means “to move on”. It was said to be later mispronounced as Minalin by a local town official.

Two magnificent churches are found in the provincial boundaries of Pampanga and Bulacan near the confluence of the Baliwag and Rio Grande Rivers. On the Pampanga side is the Apalit church, dedicated to San Pedro Apostol and built by Fr. Antonio Redondo (OSA) and a Guagua native named Mariano Santos in 1876. The interior was painted by a native student of the Italian artist Alberoni. Fr. Toribio Fanjul (OSA) had the bell towers built in 1896 that were designed to be small to minimized the effects of an earthquake. The church on the Bulacan side in Calumpit is dedicated to San Nicolas de Tolentino that was built before 1779. Fr. Antonio Llanos (OSA) who helped edit the epic Flora Filipina once served in the church.

We again turned right at the town crossing after visiting the Apalit church and before entering the province of Bulacan for the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Macabebe. The first parochial buildings of light materials were built under the supervision of Fr. Ildefonso Heredero (OSA) from 1576 until 1583. He later had a stone church built that Fr. Felipe Tallada (OSA) had reinforced in 1613. Fr. Tomas Gresa (OSA) supervised the enlargement of the church in 1864 making it one of the biggest in the Philippines during that time. Macabebe in Kapampangan means “living on the banks of the river”. The Macabebes are known for their loyalty to Spain and, in retaliation to this, Katipuneros burned the church in 1898.

Next stop is Guiguinto --- a town that was first established as a visita of the Augustinians at around 1591 and 1607. The present church is dedicated to San Ildefonso and was probably built in the late 17thcentury or the early years of the 18th century.

Our visita iglesia culminated in the churches of Marilao (dedicated to San Miguel Arkanghel and built by Fr. Vicente de Talavera), and Meycauayan (probably built at the later part of the 18th century after the town was relocated from Lagulo to its present site).

Bulan slept the remaining kilometers from Meycauayan to Manila. During dinner at a Burger King branch, he told me that he finally decided to become a priest (the choices before that are becoming a scientist then a forensic like CSI’s Grisham). When I asked him why, he said: “Para po magkaroon kayo ng sariling simbahan”.


Estan said...

The quiant church of Guiguinto is undergoing renovations as of now. And thankfully, they removed the portico.

Anonymous said...

yes na remove na namin ang portico at kung mapupunta kayo ngayon ibinalik nanamin ang dating mukha ni... Tinerno na din namin ang mga paintings sa loob mg 3D na walls at haligi sa loob Trompe l'eoil na siya... european style ang mga gamit sa loob at may garden na din sa labas.... kasi nag celebrate kami ng 400 years of foundation of the Church

Anonymous said...

THE CHURCH IN GUIGUINTO, BULACAN,the most beautiful church in the whole province na nabisita ko this holy week 2007,salamat sa Diyos at napaganda na nila ulit ang simbahan

Maribel said...

Shubert, I teared up reading this post. Such loving, honest, heartfelt reply from your son.

bayani said...

as it was renovated, i am one of the lucky first man that take my wedding vows here. it was so beautiful.

bayani said...

as it was renovated, me and my wife are one of the first couple to take our vows and officiated by Rev. fr. Munique Cadiz in february 2007 at this San Ildefonso Parish Church.