My friend Eboy hails from the coastal town of Orion along Manila Bay. Together with Dante, we are known as PRRM's "Packard Boys" because of a common Packard-funded project, and our preference of staying at the "Packard Office" near the V. Luna Hospital whenever we are in Manila. Our triumvirate eventually outgrew our professional ties and became good friends. Both Eboy and Dante stood as ninongs to my youngest son Balong.
Orion was estblished as a visita of Abucay until it became an independent mission center in 1667. It was reported to have a large convent and a massive beautiful church, dedicate to San Miguel Arkanghel, by the end of the 17th century. The church was repaired when the town was again taken over by the Dominicans in 1832. The parochial buildings sustained heavy damage during the 1852 earthquake and were repaired in 1854. Fr. Miguel Fuster (OP), Fr. Miguel Auli (OP), and Fr. Ulpiano Herrero later initiated repairs and further improvements. Orion's most prominent sons are Cayetano Arellano, the first Filipino Chief Justive of the Philippine Supreme Court, who was born there in 1847; and Francisco Baltazar, author of the epic Florante at Laura, who reside in Orion from 1842 until 1862.
Aside from Orion's church, the province of Bataan boasts of other significant colonial churches that survived the ravages of World War II. I recommend a visita iglesia from Orion going south towards the Olongapo-Gapan Road. On this route, the first church after Orion will be that of Pilar which interestingly is the only church in Bataan built facing the mountains.
Next will be
After Balanga is the town of
The next visita will be Samal --- Sir Gani’s hometown that was established by the Dominicans as a mission in 1596. The parochial buildings, built under the supervision of Fr. Jeronimo Belen (OP), were destroyed during the Dutch invasion of 1647 that the Filipino defenders under Alejo Aguas repelled. Fr. Juan Zubelso (OP) had the church (dedicated to Santa Catalina de Sienna) rebuilt at around 1650 but this was razed by fire in 1836. There are no records on who rebuilt the church except for Fr. Miguel Protell (OP) who supervised some improvement and the building of the convent. The church was burned in 1898 by Filipino revolutionaries to flush out a Spanish garrison entrenched in the convent. Fr. Justo Quesada (OP) had both buildings rebuilt in 1905.