The Evangelization of the Philippines started formally started with the coming the Spanish Augustinians from Mexico in 1565 in the expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Fray Andres de Urdaneta, OSA. From their first settlement in Cebu they came to Manila in 1571. In the same year Miguel Lopez de Legaspi founded the city of Manila. In 1575 they became an independent Province of the Order under the name: Provincia Agustiniana del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas. (Augustinian Provovince of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines.
Up to 1578 the Augustinians were the only missionaries in the Islands. By the end of the 16th century they had established some 54 houses in six Islands: Cebu, Panay, Luzon, Mindoro, Masbate, and Leyte. Later, in 1594, some of those houses were handed over to other Orders. Since then, the Augustinians worked in the evangelization of the Filipinos in Ilocos, La Union, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila and Batangas in Luzon, in Panay Island and Southern Cebu. In the 18th century they began their missionary work among the people of the Mountain Province, Abra and Nueva Ecija.
From 1565 to 1898 close to 3,000 Augustinians worked in the Philippines. They founded 328 parishes, 90 of which were turned over to other religious and native secular clergy. In 1897 close to 3,000,000 Filipinos were under their care.
Augustinians made an invaluable contribution to the material and cultural progress in the country. They helped revolutionize the cultivation of the agricultural products of the country and introduced from America and Asia; wheat, sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, and various fruits. They directed the building of churches, schools, roads, channels for irrigation and organized the towns. The Augustinians wrote grammars and dictionaries in tagalong Capampangan, Ilocano, Hiligaynon and Cebuano as well as doctrinal and devotional books about history, where they recorded the life and mores of the Filipinos at the arrival of the Spaniards, books about flora and medicinal plants of the land.
As part of their social involvement with the people, the Augustinians established the Hospital de Lazaro for lepers in 1814 and the Casa de Asilo in 1860 persons with cholera in the town of Laoag, Ilocos Norte and another Hospital Candaba, Pampanga in 1605. In 1882 there was a great epidemic of cholera in Manila and environs and many people died living many children orphaned. Augustinians built an orphanage in the district of San Marcelino, Manila to give shelter and education to those children. Later the orphaned girls were housed in Mandaluyong under the Augustinians Sisters and the boys, first in the Guadalupe Monastery Makati and in 1890 at Malabon in those days part of Bulacan where Schools of Arts and Trades was established destroyed in 1899 by the ______ while fighting against the Filipinos.
After the revolution against Spain, their former parishioners petitioned the Ecclesiastical and Civil Authorities to allow the Augustinians to return to their parishes, those from 1902 up to the 1960's they continued working in some towns of Pampanga, Panay and Cebu. In 1905 the Augustinians Provincial started residing in Madrid, Spain and since then the Augustinians in the Philippines were under the Province as a Vicariate, today known as Vicariate of the Orient, and with houses in the Philippines and China.
In the 1984 the Province of Santo Niï¿œo of Cebu was canonically erected and the houses of the Vicariate were handed over to the new Province, except San Agustin of Manila and Colegio San Agustin of Makati, were Filipinos and Spaniards continue their pastoral and education apostolate; several Filipinos of the Vicariate had worked of some time in South America and Tanzania, Africa. The old Vicariate of the Philippines, after the erection of the new Augustinians Province of Cebu in 1983, has kept its presence in the country to carry on the historical missionary tradition of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines. Here it was born and from here it channeled its missionary activity to other countries in Asia. Soon after the Province of Cebu was erected, the Vicariate was renamed Vicariate of the Orient, a name that goes better with each actual mission and each specific purposes.
Upon their possession in Manila the Augustinian Friars build the Church. The first church of nipa and bamboo was erected in 1571 was officially known as the Iglesia y Convento de San Pablo (Church and Convent of Saint Paul). This was destroyed during the Limahong invasion in 1574. It was rebuilt a year later, it became the venue of the First Diocesan Synod in 1581. Destroyed by another fire, the next church was built in stone. This was designed by Juan Macias and was built from 1586 to 1606. The structure was so stable that the periodic earthquakes wrought minimal damage. One of the San Agustin's bell towers, however, collapsed in the 1863 earthquake.
It was in the sacristy of the church that the Spaniards and Americans discussed and signed the terms of surrender of the city of Manila to the Americans in 1898. During the last days of the Battle of Manila in 1945, hundreds of Intramuros residents were gathered and held hostage in the church by Japanese soldiers. The priests were locked up in the monastery. Some of them were later killed in the air raid shelter massacre at the Palacio del Gobernador.
Although the convent was burned during the shelling of the city, the church miraculously survived. Repaired after the war, the church became the site of the first Philippine Plenary Council in 1953. It has remained a symbol of the glorious past in the old city of Intramuros.
An intricately carved door opens the church. Of great interest are the baroque pulpit, molave choir's stalls and an 18th century pipe organ. Also found here in the tomb of Manila's founder and first governor-general Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, as well as the remains of other Spanish conquistador. The monastery, on the other hand, houses an impressive collection of paintings, statues and church objects dating back to the Spanish period.
It was only in 1945 this San Agustin Church became the seat of the Immaculate Conception Parish. From its foundation in the late 16th century to 1944 the seat of this Parish was the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral. During the Second World War Intramuros was reduced to ashes except San Agustin Church.
The Parish in Manila Catedral – This parish was born in the bossom of Manila Catedral. It is one of the oldest parish in the Philippines. It is founded around the year 1580s under the advocation of the Immacul.ate Conception of Mary. The Catedral Church was the seat of the parish until its destruction during the Second World War in 1944. The Manila Catedral along with five major churches in Intramuros was bombed during the war.
The Parish transferred to San Agustin Church – After the liberation of the City of Manila the religious activities of Intramuros started to return to its normal course. San Agustin ?Church and Monastery was the only structure left standing in Intramuros. Then the Archbishop pf Manila requested the Augustinian Community for the transfer of the seat of the parish from the Catedral to San Agustin Church, the year was 1945. Sinde then the Parish of the Immaculkate Conception finds its new home insane Agustin Church. The Doucments Marriage, Confirmation and Baptisms) of Manila Catedral beginning 1945 – 1985 are kept in this church.
The parish territory are the following areas – the whole of Intramuros (Barangay 655-658, Port Area (Barangay 650-654, that is Manila Hotel to Delpan Bridge) and the whole of Baseco Compound (Barangaay 649). It has more or less 100,000 populations. Within the Parish territory there are 3 public schools (H.J. Atienza Elementary School, Manila High School), 2 Catholic Schools (Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Colegio de Santa Rosa) 2 non-sectarian schools (Lyceum of the Philippines University and Mapua Institute of Technology)
Assistant Parish Priest