Augustinian Churches · General History

Pattern of missionization of the Philippines by friars

Pattern of missionization of the Philippines by the friars

While the military paved the way, Catholicism completed its conquest of all but the southernmost islands of the archipelago. The missionary zeal of regular orders was crucial, trumping problems like local defiance, language gaps between the missionaries and communities, and lack of missionary manpower that plagued early evangelization efforts. Legaspi’s pilot and chaplain, Fray Andres de Urdaneta, led the charge, along with five other Augustinian fathers. Drawing from missionary experiences in the America, the Augustinians delayed baptisms until the candidates demonstrated at least some evidence of Christian knowledge.

In 1569, after reinforcements from Mexico arrived, the Augustinians took Cebu under their wing and, remembering the image of the Santo Nino recovered there, called the new Spanish settlement Santisimo Nombre de Jesus (the Most Holy Name of Jesus). The friars then followed Legazpi to Panay. Displaying commitment and dedication, an Augustinian, Fray Juan de Alba, subsequently learned the Hiligaynon language to aid in converting the populace. Meanwhile the seizure of Manila promted the friars also to proselytize in Luzon. Their eventual success heartened the Church to send more missionaries to the islands. Four orders joined the Augustinians: the Franciscan (1577), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and Recolects (1606). They divided the archipelago into spiritual jurisdictions – the Augustinians and Dominicans took northern and central Luzon; the Franciscans, southern Luzon; the Jesuits, southern Visayas and Mindanao; and the Recollects, northeast Luzon, its nethermost islands, northern Visayas, Palawan and Mindanao.

Missionization followed a regular pattern. Friars converted the local chief and his entourage, convinced that they would be followed by their constituencies. Friars then set up their mission, including a convent, church and school. They provided children with pre-baptismal instruction, to ensure that future members of the community were Catholics and sympathetic towards the Spanish. To earn the trust of potential converts, friars eschewed Spanish and conducted catechism in the local languages. Of course translation was not always feasible: Latin and Spanish words for concepts such as God, the Holy Spirit, and grace were retained where they had no equivalents in the vernacular tongues. Visual aids complemented the teaching: depictions of a fiery hell instilled fear among coverts, convincing them to remain faithful.[1]


[1] A New History of Southeast Asia By M.C. Ricklefs, Bruce Lockhart, Albert Lau, Portia Reyes, Maitrii Aung-Thwin, 88-89.

Augustinian Churches · Philippines

Repost: 10 Augustinian built heritage churches in the Philippines you should see

This year, 2015, marks the 450th year of the presence of the Augustinians in the Philippines, the 450th year of the finding of the image of the Sto. Nino in Cebu and the 50th anniversary of the Minor Basilica of Sto. Nino. This post, celebrates these milestones by honoring the pioneering Augustinian order thru the churches that they built. To simplify things, I based it on the four churches inscribed under the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, UNESCO World Heritage list and the rest, a selection of Augustinian built churches known for their outstanding architecture, and are declared National Cultural Treasures (NCT). Boljoon, other than a NCT, is also nominated in the Baroque Churches of the Philippines extensionlist. And of course, The Minor Basilica of Sto. Nino is an important shrine and is a declared National Historical Landmark. simbahan-san-agustin Continue readings…. ORIGINAL POST. ____________________________________ Source:

Augustinian Churches · Bulacan

Barasoain Church, Bulacan

Location: this town is located at the same altitude as its matrix, Malolos, which is just 10 minutes away by car. It is bounded on the north by Calumpit, Paombong and Quingua (Plaridel); on the east by Santa Isabel; on the south by Malolos; and on the west by Paombong.

Foundation: Barasoain was a barrio visit of malolos until 1859, the year it separated from its matrix. Its titular patroness is Our Lady of mt. Carmel. In 1866, it had 10,516 souls; its population decreased to 9,618 in 1896. No figures are available for 1980.

Construction of the Church: Fr. Francisco Arriola, appointed first parish on June 1, 2859, built the convent. A small ermita, constructed by Fr. Melchor Fernandez in 1816 while he was parish priest of Malolos (1816-1840), served as temporary parish church. One of the existing bells bears the year 1870. It was installed by Fr. Emterio Ruperez. It was donated by the “principalia (sic) of Malolos.” And dedicated to the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of Barasoain. Fr. Francisco Royo replaced the temporary chapel with a hewn stone church built between 1871 and 1878. This was soon destroyed by fire. The only remnant of this church is one of its bells, installed by Fr. Royo on February 30, 1873 and dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. Fr. Juan Giron who succeeded him, used the chapel of the cemetery until this one, too, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1880. Fr. Giron then built temporary chapel of nipa and bamboo which was burned down in 1884, during the solemn celebrations of the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. In 1885, Fr. Giron hired the services of contractor by the name of Magpayo and started, a fundamentis, the construction of a massive church made of masonry and bricks. The church was completed under Fr. Giron’s supervision. Jorde does not specify the year of its completion; he says only that, “at the time it was completed the pockets of Fr. Giron were drained.” In 1889, Fr. Martin Arconada started the construction of the tower and the restoration of the convent. Three bells were installed in 1897. One of them is dedicated to St. Martin, Bishop, and was donated by Fr. Martin Arconada. In 1894, Fr. Miguel de Vera undertook another restoration of the convent.

Recently, both buildings have undergone careful and thorough, although not very accurate, restoration under the supervision of the National Historical Institute, in collaboration with the then Department of Tourism. One wonders that could have been the motive behind the shrouding of the beautiful stone columns of themain altar with makeshift plywood retable. On August 1, 1973, the complex of convent and church was declared a “National Landmark.”

Style of the Church: Amon the various features of the façade, the most evident are perhaps those belonging to the Baroque style. The gracefully undulating line running up and down the pediment is echoed successively in the façade, the bell tower and the recessed rose window which cuts the cornice of the center.

The lopwer level comprises the recessed semi-circular arch of the main entrance arch of the main entrance which supported by a three column set and is flanked on both sides by smaller entrances, each supported by one column and recessed half niches. The overcrowded first level is balanced by the bareness of the second level. An empty blind niche on this level echoes the semi-circular movement complemented by the undulating pediment line that is broken by wing-shpaed finials.

The recent restoration preserved the original pattern. However, there are some fanciful feats like the abortive flutings of the columns which detract from Neo-Classic sobriety.

The octagonal four-story bell tower has alternating open and false windows which rise in uneven modules. The moduyles end up in the crenelated base of the pointed pinnacle.

Source: Angels in  Stone, Fr. Pedro Galende, OSA

Augustinian Churches · Ilocos Norte

Immaculate Conception Parish, Batac, Ilocos Norte

Immaculate Concepcio, Batac, Ilocos NorteThe town was founded by the Augustinians in 1587 under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. It is the second oldest town established by the Augustinians in the province of Ilocos Norte. Hence, in 1987 Batac reached its 4th centennial.

Batac was officially organized into a ministry on January 5, 1586. The first priest assigned to cathecize the natives of tile community was Fr. Esteban Marin, an Augustinian who probably arrived in Batac in 1585. Paoay and Dinglas (Dingras) were then the visitas of Batac.

Folk history states that there were two villages in Batac during the early part of tile foundation of the town, one was an Itneg community which occupied sitio Nangalisan and a Christian community occupying San Jose.

The first site of tile poblacion was in San Jose, which is now called Barangay Palpalicong. It is said that the ethnic minority groups of Bangui and Nueva Era are the pre-Spanish descendants of early inhabitants of Batac.

The Augustinians considered the people of Batac more civilized than tile other tribes, because they were better than the other “Indios” in personal cleanliness.

Augustinian Churches · Ilocos Norte

St. Joseph Parish, Dingras, Ilocos Norte

Saint Joseph Parish, Dingras, Ilocos NorteIn 1598, the Augustinians founded Dingras as Ginglas. On the same year, it was placed under the patronage of San Jose. Dingras became one of the oldest and biggest ministries in the entire Ilocos region until year 1690. It was one of the visitas of batac in 1589. On July 8 of that year, Dingras was made a ministry with Fray Bartolome Conrado as its first parish priest. As such, it remained as one of the six encomiendas in Ilocos of the King of Spain in 1591. However, on October 31, 1603, Dingras was given back as visita to Batac, perhaps, because of its failure to become the mission center for the conversion of the interior settlements in the Ilocos.

In 1680, the Augustinians built a church. However it was destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1707. Another church which was more spacious and massive was erected by Fray Damaso Vieztez. In 1838, Fathers Deza and Franco remodeled the church impressively. But fire later gutted the edifice. Te ruins still evidence of a once splendid structure, regarded by historians as one of the three earthquake baroque churches. The others are those of Magsingal (Ilocos Sur Province) and Laoag City.

Cebu · Sto.Niño Image

“Hubo” Ritual at the end of the Sinulog Festival

Sto. Nino Image without dressA few days after the feast of the Sto. Niño de Cebu every Third Sunday of January, the so-called “Hubo” (a Cebuano term meaning “naked”) ritual takes place during the early morning celebration of the Holy Mass, marking the end of the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. Seen from the outside, it appears as a simple rite of undressing, bathing and redressing the image of the Holy Child. The icon is stripped of its elaborate festive garments, washed, and dressed with a simpler garb.

Perhaps for many devotees flocking to the city of Cebu for the Sinulog Festivel, Hubo is only a symbolic re-enactment of something which takes place in their home every single day: a mother or a father or some adult bathing a child either at the start of the day so as to prepare  him/her for the day’s activities or at the end of it to wash away all the dirt that the child’s body has accumulated throughout the day. And we surmise and muse on thinking that the Sto. Niño image must have accumulated a similar amount of dirt during the almost two-week long celebration in his honor and, thus, needs such a washing up!

Continue reading ““Hubo” Ritual at the end of the Sinulog Festival”

Cebu · General History · History of the Augustinians · Philippines


Santo Niño and the Dawn of Christian Faith in the Philippines


450th Official Logo
450th Official Logo

        The Santo Niño icon of Cebu is historically recognized as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. Itsorigin is traced from the celebrated voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 which accidentally “discovered” and claimed the islands for the Spanish Monarchy. The historic arrival was purely uncalculated for the fleet did not intend to sail directly to the Philippines. The land of the spices, particularly the highly-contested Moluccas, was the expedition’s targetdestination. The armada reached the islands after it was driven away by strong winds from the original routewhich eventually brought them to the island of Cebu. The preliminary encounters that followed forged conditional alliancesand the accompanying ceremonials took place including the introduction of the Christian faith. Initial attempt to evangelize the indigenous people of Cebu was accomplished with the hasty acceptance of the Christian faith by King Humabon and his subjects numbering around 800. The Santo Niño image was given to Queen Juana upon her ardent wish to have it in place of her local deities. The baptized indigenous people did not flourish in their practice of faith mainly due to the untimely demise of Magellan (including the chaplain Fr. Pedro Valderrama) and the eventual return of the surviving contingent to Spain. Also attributable to the absence of deeper instruction, the baptismal rite was misconstrued by the locals as a customary ritual of friendship rather than a spiritual initiation. After the interruption of forty-four (44) years, the Legazpi-Urdaneta Expedition arrived in Cebu. On April 28, 1565, the dramatic yet providential discovery (pagkakaplag) of the same wooden image in a partially scorched hut started the distinctive Christian heritage of the Philippines. The Augustinians who accompanied the journey commenced the systematic evangelization and Christianization of the islands. The subsequent foundation of the Church and Convent of the Augustinians rose on the actual site where the statuette was found. It became the central house of the Augustinians, the mother church in the Philippine Islands. The establishment of organic settlements and mission areas followed instantaneously and the pioneering evangelization gradually prospered in geographical reach and ecclesial organization despite the scarcity of missionaries. Additional religious orders were commissioned to the Philippines in successive intervals: Franciscans (1578), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and Augustinian Recollects (1606). Their ground-breaking missionary endeavours contributed to the Philippine identity as a predominantly Christian nation.

         The first Church and Convent dedicated to Santo Niño developed into a principalhouse of the Augustinian friars mainly in the spiritual and missionary formation, and the promotion of the devotion to the Holy Child – theadored patron, protector and inspiration. As a consequence, the Santo Niño Church grew in popularity throughout the islands both in magnificence and significance as the cradle of Philippine Christianity, and the perpetual sanctuary of the Santo Niño of Cebu. In recognition of the historical, religious and cultural importance of the Santo Niño Church and the sacred relic it keeps, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) petitioned Pope Paul VI in 1964 to confer on the Santo Niño Church the title “Basilica Minore” in time for the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines in 1965.The Santo Niño icon was also canonically crowned by the Papal LegateIldebrando Cardinal Antoniutti – a solemn gesture of singular honor reserved to the beloved Santo Niño. In its entirety, the Fourth Centennial Celebration overwhelmingly succeeded in engaging the entire nation, thus renewing “The Philippines for Christ” in faith, commitment and enthusiasm to live out the Gospel message.

Augustinian Churches · History of the Augustinians

Augustinian Parishes and Missions, 1760


 Tondo – Tondo, Passig, Taguiig, Parañaque, Malate, Tambobong,

Bulacan – Bulacan, Guiguinto, Bigaa, Angat, Baliuag, Quingua, Calumpit, Hagonoy, Paombong, Malolos

Balayan – Taal, Bauang, Batangas, Lipa, Tiyauong, San Pablo, Tanauan

Pampanga – Macabebe, Minalin, Sesmoan, Lubao, Uaua, Betis, Santa Rita y Porac, Bacolor, San Fernando, Mexico, Pinpin, Arayat, Magalang, Tarlac, San Jose, Tayug, Santor, Gapang, San Miguel, Candava, Apalit


Pangasinan – Agoo, Aringay, Bauang, Balanac, Bacnotan,


Ylocos – Namacpacan, Bangar, Candong, Narbacan, Santa Catharina, Bantay, Magsingal, Cabugao, Sinait, Badoc, Pauay, Batac, San Nicolas, Ylauag, Sarrat, Dingras, Bacarra, Bangui,


Zebu – San Nicolas, Argao, Bolohon, Opon, Cabcar

Yloylo – Oton, Alimodian, Maasign, Matagub, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagiao, Antique, Sibalon, Bugason, Xaro, Dumangas, Anilao, Camando, Cabatuan, Pototan, Laglag, Lambunao, Passi, Ygbarras,

Panay – Panay, Capis, Dumalag, Dumarao


Missions of various nations belonging to the province of Pampanga




New Christians of both sexes


Mission of Magalang y Tarlac




Mission of Tayug




Visita of Lupao




Mission of Santor









Missions of Igorrots and Tingyans belonging to the province of Ylocos




New Christians of Both sexes


Village of Santiago




Village of San Agustin de Bana




Territory of Batac




Territory of Narbacan




Territory of Candon




Territory of Bangar




Territory of Namacpacan




Territory of Agoo




Territory of Iringay




Territory of Bauan




Territory Magsingal




Territory of Bacarra





Total Summary of the classes included in this table reduced to persons

(notice is given that in the total of tributes it must be understood that each single whole tribute means two persons; and thus it will be noted in the figures. The total is as set forth below.)


Tributes                                               156,230

Exempt                                                 24,633

Young men                                          21,926

Young women                                      32,958

Escolapios                                           52,047

Young children                                    82,424

Spaniards, men and women                266

Missions of these islands                    1,693

Mission of China                                  1,480

Total                                                   373,663


I, Master Fray Pedro Velasco, provincial of this province of Santisimo Nombre de Jesus of Philipinas of the Order of the Hermits of our father St. Augustine, certify that the lists of villages and souls contained in this table and which are administered by the religious of this said province, are set forth truly; and in order that his may be suitable evident, I have affixed my signature in this convent of Tondo, on April sixteenth, one thousand seven hundred and sixty (1760).

Fray Pedro Velasco, Provincial of St. Augustine


Augustinian Churches · Manila

Malate Churh – Our Lady of Remedies

Malate ChurchIn 1588, in this village known as Malate,  the Augustinian friars built a church in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.  The stone church and convent, built in 1591, suffered heavily during the earthquake of 1645 and 1863, while both buildings were pulled down in 1667 on orders of Governor General Manrique de Lara, who feared an invasion by the pirate Koxinga.  But the Sino corsair died in Formosa or Taiwan just before the invasion, and the church was rebuilt later that year, and during the next three years,  with the same stones and bricks.

When the British landed in Manila in 1762, they made the church their headquarters.  Repairs had to be made after the British left the following year.  But both church and convent were destroyed beyond repair by the typhoon of June 1868.

The present church was then rebuilt for the third time in its entirety, thanks to the parish priest, Fr. Francisco Cuadrado, who, together with the poor fishermen of his parish, toured the city and nearby provinces to raise the much-needed funds.  The upper façade of the church was completed three decades later, from 1894 to 1898.

The Japanese occupation proved disastrous to the church in Malate.  Both church and the convent were burned, with just the walls left standing.  Fortunately, the Columban fathers rebuilt the roof, the main altar, the dome and the transept around 1950;and in 1978, the interior of the church was painted, the bricks and the stones outside were made to look new.  The bell to be found at the entrance of the convent bears this inscription:  “Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.  Se fundio en 30 de Enero de 1879.

Interior of Malate Church

The façade of the present church of Malate is a “good blending of Muslim and baroque architecture; the solid compact stone structure is enhanced by the cylindrical end buttresses, the few openings and the overall ornateness of the design.  The three-story façade integrates with ingenuity the cylindrical end buttresses, hexagonal forms converted into belfries.”


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