A History of the Parish of Sto. Nino
Rev. Fr. Alfred T. Viernes
Presentation: The main task of this research work is to answer the question:
How did the Augustinian Recollects arrive and evangelize our pueblo Balincaguin?
To answer this question, the researcher decided not to answer the question directly by going at once to the year 1610. In order to understand and appreciate what happened during the founding of the Parish, it would be better to go back to an earlier generation of events within and outside the archipelago. Other details of history, though rich and exciting in themselves, have been left out to fit and be more focused on our goals and purposes.
Being an amateur researcher, I relied heavily on secondary sources. Nevertheless, the choices of secondary sources are highly esteemed and professional historians. This opus is far from being comprehensive and extensive. I encourage others to investigate other areas and events which this opus might have missed out or lacking thereof in order to have a better view and understanding and appreciation of our past and history.
I. The Early Beginnings (15th to 17th centuries)
A. From Spain to the Philippines
Siglo de oro. Spain reached her Golden Age in the 15th-16th century. It was at this time that her political and religious movements took its highest degree of grandeur and success in the Iberian Peninsula. The political efforts of King Fernando and Queen Isabel led to the unification of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castille in 1479. A more significant success in the Peninsula was the completion of Spanish conquest against the Muslims by taking over, after a century-long crusade, of Granada in 1492.
The SpanishKingdom was even expanded in influence and power through King Carlos (Emperor Charles V) and his son Felipe II, successors of King Fernando and Queen Isabel. Spain was the greatest empire of the world during that time. She was the leading military power of the whole of Europe. Art, philosophy, literature and theology prospered.
But over and above these political achievements of Spain is religion, specifically, Catholicism. Unlike today’s politics (or any movement of the Government), the underlying principle and motivation of the Kingdom is the spread, preservation and defense of the Catholic faith. A renowned historian states:
“Spain was God’s providential instrument for the salvation of Europe, of the Indies and of the world. The sense of confidence and of a messianic mission was to inspire both the extraordinary military conquest of the Spanish conquistador and the greatest mission enterprise in the history of the Church.”
It was also this same crusading zeal that Spain wanted to spread the Gospel to other lands or New World. This was the beginning of the great overseas enterprise in America and Asia. It is also worth noting that just when the Churches in Europe were eroding in influence due to their greed for power and some “unpriestly acts”, the Church in Spain was already a reformed Church long before even Martin Luther called for one in Germany. The religious orders led the great outburst of spiritual renewal domestically and later on, to the New World.
The Pope played an important part in the process of discovery and sovereignty of a newly found land. Papal Bulls were necessary in giving the discoverer’s (as a nation or Kingdom) exclusive right and jurisdiction of territories being discovered. Thus, in 1492, Fernando el Catolico of Spain asked Pope Alexander VI to grant Spain a Papal Bull to avoid conflicts with her neighbor Portugal. The Pope granted the Bull a year later entitled “Inter Caetera” with the following instructions:
…we have heard that you had long proposed to seek out and find certain island and mainlands remote and unknown, and never yet discovered by others, so that you might bring the natives and inhabitants thereof to worship our Redeemer and to profess the Catholic faith…We therefore…grant and assign, and with them all their possessions, towns, forts, territories, cities and all the rights and jurisdictions appertaining thereto, to you and your heirs and successors, the Kings of Castile and Leon forever. And we make, constitute and depute you and your heirs and successors lords of the same, with full, free and all-embracing power, authority and jurisdiction…Moreover, we order you…to dispatch to the designated mainlands and islands virtuous and God-fearing men endowed with learning, experience, and skill, to instruct the natives and inhabitants in the Catholic Faith and to instill in them sound morals…”
Moreover, even before Spain could ever launch her explorers and missionaries to the New World, Portugal had already sailed and began her discovery and expansion. In the early 15th century, they have reached North Africa, Angola, India (under Vasco da Gama), Moluccas and Japan (under Francis Xavier). Spain sailed to Antilles, America (under Christopher Columbus) and finally to the Philippines (under Ferdinand Magellan).
B. From Cebu to Manila
1. The coming of the Conquestadores
On August 10, 1519, Fernao Magalhaes, together with five boats (Trinidad, Victoria, Conception, Santiago, San Antonio) with 270 men sailed from Seville in search for Moluccas. After their tumultuous voyage on the rough seas of the Pacific, three boats remained (Trinidad, Victoria, Conception). They unexpectedly reached the beaches of Samar but they sailed on until they reached HomonhonIsland. Magellan went further to LimasawaIsland where they had their first mass, presided over by Father Pedro Valderrama, on March 31, 1521.
The fleet reached Cebu on April 7, 1521. Magellan met with Raja Humabon, king of Cebu, and the latter, together with his wife and some 800 subjects, were baptized. Contrary to popular beliefs and histories, the baptisms were not forced or coerced upon the natives by the conquerors. It was Magellan himself who catechized the natives and he even gave then freedom to choose to be baptized or not. Pigafetta, a resident chronicler of Magellan, narrates:
“the captain said many things concerning peace… prayed God…heaven. They said they never heard anyone speak such words, but they took pleasure in hearing them…the captain told them God made the sky, the earth, the sea and everything else…to honor our father and mothers…that we all descended from Adam and Eve…and many other things pertaining to faith…the captain said that if they wished to become Christians, our priest would baptize them…They answered that they would first speak to their King, and that they would become Christians…we all wept with great joy. The captain-general told them that they should not become Christians for fear or to please us, but of their own free wills; and that he would not cause any displeasure to those who wished to live according to their own law, but that the Christians would be better regarded and treated than the others. All cried out in one voice that they were not becoming Christians through fear or to please us, but of their own free will.”
The devote captain Magellan and 20 of his soldiers met their cruel and bloody end when they went to Mactan Island in April 27, 1522. He tried to intervene with the feud between Humabon and Lapu-lapu. After that, that rest of the fleet flew elsewhere. Conception was burned. Trinidad sailed towards Mexico. Victoria went to Seville.
After the partial success of Magellan and his fleet, Charles V sent other batches of explorers like Juan Garcia Jofre de Loaysa (1525), Elcano, Martin Iniquez de Carquizano, Alvaro Saavedra (1527), Hernando Torre and Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, who “renamed the Western Islands to Filipinas in honor of Don Felipe, Prince of Asturias” Villalobos died in 1546.
The coming of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi marked the decision of Spain to permanently settle in the Philippines and to fulfill their mandate as stated in the Papal Bull Inter Caetera,i.e. conquest and evangelization. He was accompanied by a group of Augustinian friars from Mexico. With the leadership of Fray Andres de Urdaneta, they were to continue the work started by Magellan and Fr. Valderrama which were sporadic and unsystematic.
They arrived in Leyte on February 1564 and made a pact with Sikatuna. They transferred to Cebu on April 26, 1565. Through patience and determined negotiations, Legaspi was able to convince Tupas, king of Cebu island, to acknowledge Spain and accept Christianity. Since that time and with the coming and help of his grandson, Juan Salcedo, Legazpi began to improve Cebu through reorganization and beautification (Spanish style or way) of CebuIsland.
Despite the success in Cebu, the royal Government of Spain had other plans in fixing their headquarters. While Legaspi was busy doing business in the Visayas, he heard good reports about the City of Manila especially her location. He sent Martin de Goiti and Salcedo in 1570 to establish friendship with Raja Matanda and Raja Soliman, Lords of Manila. Their good relations lasted a short time when Raja Soliman, who loves independence, tried to attack the Spaniards. The plan was foiled by Goiti and captured Soliman and his men. The following year (1571), Legaspi himself went to Manila and Raja Matanda paid respects to him and ask pardon on behalf of Soliman. Later, the disgraced Soliman offered his vassalage to the King of Spain.
Just like what he did in CebuIsland, Legaspi reorganized and developed Manila. With some resistance to the supremacy of Spain, the people around Manila acknowledged their power over them. This was the beginning of a more systematic and organized way of governance and evangelization which expanded later on to Luzon. It was actually Juan Salcedo who spread and colonized northern Luzon. Unfortunately, he was stricken by a malignant fever and died in Vigan in 1576. He was considered the last conquistador. The remaining untapped lands were left to the captains but especially to the missionaries.
2. The Coming of the Missionaries
As was mentioned earlier, the missionaries already came with the conquistadores.From Magellan to Juan Salcedo, Spain saw to it that their main task (as stated in their mandate in the Papal Bull Inter Caetera) of spreading the Catholic Faith to the natives was fulfilled. Yet missionary work was just flitting and sporadic due to the fact that the mission areas were still unstable and the resistance of the Datus and Rajas. Their resistance indicated their non-acknowledgement of Spain and Spain’s inability to organize herself.
After the establishment of Manila as the center and capital of the new Spanish colony in 1571, the Spaniards requested King Philip II to ask Rome to make Manila a separate and independent Diocese (from Mexico). Consequent to that request is the appointment of a new Bishop for Manila. In February 6, 1579, Pope Gregory XIII approved the request and sent a Bull Illius Fulti Praesidio indicating that Manila is now a Diocese separate and independent to Mexico, her mother Diocese. The Pope also appointed Fray Domingo de Salazar as the first Bishop of Manila. Later on, Salazar felt the need to divide the Diocese (covering the whole Philippines) for more efficient administration in the mission. Thus, Pope Clement VIII issued a Papal Bull Super Specula Militantis Ecclesiae effecting the creation of Archdiocese of Manila on August 14, 1595. The new archdiocese had three suffragan Sees, namely Nueva Segovia (covering from northern to central Luzon) Caceres (Southern Luzon) and Cebu.
After a relatively stable governance in the Government and the Church, missionaries started coming in. As was stated earlier, the Augustinians came with Legaspi in 1565. They were the first group of missionaries to systematically evangelize the indios. The Order of Franciscans arrived in June 24, 1578. Jesuits came on September 17, 1581. The Dominicans came on July 21 1587. The Recollects arrived on May 1606. These were the major religious groups that were responsible for founding and evangelizing the vast Islas del Poniente. In fact, they were the true conquestadores of the islands.
Just like the Papal Bulls wherein countries were given the right to territories they find or discover and develop them, the Royal Spain also made some divisions for territorial jurisdictions and apportioned them to the religious orders. Although the religious orders were already starting their mission, their mandate quite came late. The Royal Cedula was released on April 27, 1594 containing the official division of the provinces among the religious orders.
C. From Manila to Zambales
According to a historian, “the Augustinian Recollect friars were most enthusiastic ‘to undertake the arduous task of sending missionaries to the Philippines.’” Fray Juan de San Jeronimo, together with nine priests and four brothers left Cadiz and arrived in Cebu on May 12, 1606 on board Espiritu Santo. On June of the same year, they went to Manila. At first, they were cordially adopted in the convento of the Dominicans in Santo Domingo. Later on, they were with the Augustinians in San Agustin. The Governor of Manila gave them a parcel of land in Bagumbayan where they put up their convent. In 1607, Bataan and Zambales (up to the Western Pangasinan) were given to them as their mission territories.
Before we trace the missionary work of the Recolletos, it would be very interesting to know how our ancestors lived. This short portion answers the questions:
What were our ancestors doing before the colonizers arrived?
What were their beliefs and culture?
Did they have political systems before the Spaniards arrived?
Unfortunately, we do not have “Filipino” answers to these questions since there were no “Filipino” chroniclers and historians at that time. The answers will be provided by our Spanish missionaries who saw and documented their observations about our ancestors. The question should rather be:
How did the missionaries see us when they arrived?
1. The Socio-Politico-religious situation before the colonization and evangelization.
a. Just like the other islands in the archipelago, our ancestors had no common government. They did not have a common consciousness of belonging to one another. Hence, they did not constitute a nation. The settlements or barangays are mutually hostile to each other. They were independent, self-governing, self reliant, separate from each other. Religion was pagan and animistic.
b. Henry Scott wrote:
“the Spaniards first met the Zambals when Juan de Salcedo (died 1576) rescued some who had been sold as slaves to a Chinese ship anchored in Bolinao. Four years later they appeared to repay the favor when the Spaniards were besieging a Chinese invader fortified the mouth of the AgnoRiver. As Fr. Rada (1577) described the contact, ‘when we were taking the field against the corsair Limahong, a chieftain of the Zambals came to us with 100 archers, saying he wanted to go to war with us, and that he wanted as his whole prize no more than simply the Chinese heads!’”
c. Zambal society. The origin of the Zambals.
“The Zambals are also believed to be among the early Malay immigrants who found their way into our archipelago through the so-called land bridges stretching all the way from the South East Asia to Luzon via Palawan and Mindoro, some 250,000 years ago.”
“Zambal communities were small, and both economically and politically underdeveloped. Their clothing was limited to G-strings, short skirts and jackets; men shaved the front half of their heads to leave long locks hanging, and nobody wore heavy gold jewelry…”
“Men moved to their wives’ residence, and marriages were strictly monogamous: both erring parties could be executed for adultery. They practiced infanticide if necessary to limit their offspring to one boy and one girl. Their houses were simple enough for Spaniards to call them huts, but permanent enough to permit the display of human heads taken.”
“Class structure was not obvious enough to attract friar attention. There were individuals reconded in society as the descendants of slaves, but no chiefly class with inherited right to rule and receive tribute. Rather, chiefs were men respected or feared for the number of heads they had taken, but they exercised no authority outside their kin group and little within it. They could call on kin support, however, for vengeance or payment of debts, even to the extent of handling over a lesser member as wergild.”
“Head taking was an expected part of Zambal male conduct, and men who did not comply with the custom were treated with scorn. Head taking was called garro or mangaw…, and skulls were fashioned into cups… A brave credited with fifteen deaths was entitled to wear a bantakan legband of fruit seeds, adding more for seventeen, and bright-colored siguey shells for nineteen and more, and all of them would wrap an anahaw leaf around the haft of their iwa digger…”
d. Zambal religion
“Zambal religion consisted mainly in the worship of ancestral spirits called anitos and individual deities with personal names. Malyari seems to have been the only one represented by an actual idol- a wooden head with straw body and arms constructed and clothed by a shaman for the occasion… Included among their deities, perhaps because of Tagalog influence, was Bathala Mey Kapal… There were also fetishlike figures small enough to be held in the hand. Certain stands of bamboo were considered sacred and therefore dangerous to cut, and omen birds were called salaksak or pasimanuken.”
“Religious services (maganito) were conducted by shamans called bayok, male transvestites who nonetheless wore weapons at their waist like a man- a cutlass on the left a head-taking iwa on the right. Each bayok was dedicated to a particular deity or spirit, and consecrated in an expensive ceremony attended by his relatives, in which he sacrificed a pig and anointed them with its blood, and then snipped off the ends of his long hair wound with gold ornaments to toss into the air for them to catch. A maganito was basically a séance during which a bayok would make three holes in the ground with a spear and fill them with wine before falling into a trembling trance to speak with the voice of the spirit that possessed him. Bayok were paid well enough for their services to recoup the costs of their initiation- for example, 10 taels for a funeral ritual in which the deceased was offered rice, buyo, wine and tobacco so as not to return to haunt the living.”
2. Initial attempts of early missionaries
Zambales and the western part of Pangasinan were already explored by the Dominicans and Augustinians even before the end of the 16th century. The missionaries encountered many unfortunate events such as unhealthy climate, the ferocity and savagery of the natives, adamant refusal for change and attachments to their traditions. In fact, Fray Agustin Mino, an Augustinian, was killed by the natives in 1591. The missions were abandoned and no authentic and systematic evangelization took place. If there were missionary activities in the locality, it was merely sporadic and occasional.
3. The Coming of the Recolletos
The Augustinian recollects must have heard of the sad plight of the missions and missionaries in Zambales and the western part of Pangasinan. Yet, despite what happened, they joyfully accepted the invitation of encomendero Hernando de Avalos to go to the abandoned missions. In 1606, Fray Miguel de la Madre de Dios, Pedro de San Jose and a brother Francisco de Santa Monica braved their way the Zambales. Romanillos recounted:
“Their activity was astonishing. Unmindful neither of the inhospitable terrain, nor the scarcity of food nor the vaunted ferocity and bellicose nature of the Zambals, the unfazed missionaries crossed rivers and creeks and climbed mountains and hills. They reduced the widely dispersed natives in order to impart to them the rudiments of the Christian faith more effectively and to prevent endless skirmishes.”
The Recollects built their own shanties as their living quarters. They ate rice and vegetables which greatly affected their diet. Fray Miguel de la Madre de Dios was stoned by the angry natives. Though he did not die at once, he was considered to be Proto-martyr of the Recollects. He was replaced by Father Rodrigo de San Miguel and was soon followed by Fray Andres del Spiritu Santo, Fray Jeronimo de Cristo and others.
D. From Zambales to Bolinao
What really happened to the missionaries and their transfer to the northern part of Zambales can be seen in the official report of Fray Jose dela Concepcion to their Superior General. We will quote the whole report (translated from the original Spanish by Fr. Santos):
(fol. 173) Year 1609
“21. This year, the above-mentioned Venerable Father Vicar Provincial decided to continue our glorious enterprise of preaching the Gospel intending to reach up to the end of the coast of Zambales and its mountain rage, which is the island known as Bolinao. It is more than fifty leagues north of this city. Our Augustinian Fathers had earlier been in the island, but, due to the ferocity and savage customs of its inhabitants, who were idolaters, sorcerers, soothsayers and witches, and who threatened to kill the ministers of the Gospel, (the latter) abandoned this island, as the expected little or no fruit from it, and they gave up the idea of making it part of the fold that is the Church.
For this reason, upon the request of the Very Illustrious Lord Governor-General and captain-General of these islands, Don Rodrigo de Rivera (fol. 174) and of the Very Illustrious and Venerable Dean and chapter of the Holy Metropolitan Church of Manila, our above-mentioned Venerable Fathers Friar Cristobal de Cristo and Friar Andres del Espiritu Santo to convert the infidels of the above-mentioned island of Bolinao. Friar Andres was the one who had converted and founded the Pueblo of Masinloc. These two religious moved into Bolinao determined to mollify the ferocity of its inhabitants and to soften their stubborn, stony, harder-than-diamonds hearts. They were nourish only with herbs from the fields for some months until even this nourishment was unexpectedly taken away (fol. 174v) by those barbarous indios in order that they would starve to death or that they would find it necessary to move or leave them alone with their bad customs. This was what would happened if God our Lord had not assisted them with His holy grace, as He does during the most trying times.
22. The religious carried on and patiently endured the innumerable hardships and miseries for some time, until the Lord took pity of the laborers and He so disposed things that, though their preaching, those barbarians were won over, because, having seen the religious to be long-suffering, humble and gentle and with such extraordinary forbearance, they realized that (those missionaries) could not be right in what they were teaching and preaching to them. By this means and for this reason, (fol. 175) many submitted themselves to the sweet yoke of the Gospel, received the Christian doctrine and were baptized very happily and contentedly. The number of those who were baptized was 1600, and, with them, the said Fathers founded, in the above-mentioned island, the church, convent and pueblo of Bolinao.
Here, something happened similar to that which happened to the Venerable Father Friar Rodrigo de San Miguel in a grove which I narrated in number 17 and 18. The religious missionaries learned that all or almost all the indios of the pueblo had gone to a sugarcane field, not very far away, to pay homage to it and worship the canes like gods. The religious pursued them and, when they found the indios absorbed in their blind ritual, (fol. 175v) they urged and prodded them to cut down even just one cane, (but) however insistently (they did so), the indios adamantly refused, because the devil had convinced them that anyone who dared to cut down a cane would, right then, drop dead.
The religious, with the help of a boy who was their guide, began to cut down and crush the canes. The indios raised their voices and, as they shrieked and screamed, they expected the Fathers to drop dead, influenced as they had been by the deception of the devil. When all the canes had been cut down and what the indios believed would happen did not, their faith in Christ became stronger that when they first received it, and they preserved in Christianity more contentedly and with more conviction. They have since kept going with such devotion and a Christian (spirit) that It is now the best, (fol. 176) the largest the most orderly, trustworthy, loyal and devout pueblo which the recollects have in the entire length of the Zambales mountain range.”
E. From Bolinao to Balingcaguin
After the daring yet successful missionary work in Bolinao, Fray Andres del Espiritu Santo and Fray Cristobal de Cristo expanded their reach to Balincaguin. An old official document (1851) done by Juan Felix de la Encarnacion narrated the following details (translated from the original Spanish by Fr. Santos):
(page 37) Town of Balincaguin
“This town owes its foundation to the missionary work done in 1610 by the Venerable Father Friar Andres del Espiritu Santo, collaborator in the spiritual conquest of the inhabitants of the town Masinloc, and the Venerable Father Cristoval de Cristo near and in front of the island of Bolinao, in the mainland of Zambales, crossing the silanga which separates the two lands. The town was placed under the patronage of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
It is near the mountains. The ground on the plain is frequently flooded during the season of rains, while the elevated portion was rugged. And so, (page 38) the air is humid. There are frequent rains from June to October. (Balincaguin) is two hours away from the sea, (which is) in the north.
Among the fruit-bearing trees which are grown in the vicinities of the town are coconuts, oranges (naranjas) and Seville oranges (cajeles). In the countryside, you find all kinds of vegetables.
People here dedicate themselves to agriculture, an enterprise which to their satisfaction, is rewarded with good harvest of palay. They also cultivate cacao, although in small quantities. Add to this is the many horses, carabaos and cows which they set free in meadows with excellent fodder and also the different species of wood, such as yacal, banaba, mangachapuy, camagon, and ebony, which are found in the luxuriant forests here. All this offers them the opportunity to engage in active and lucrative business.
In this parish, there are two visitas which can already form two towns independent of the mother, namely, San Vicente de Dasol and San Isidro de Potot, the former in the south, two league away, the latter in the southwest, one and a half league away. The two are one league apart from each other.
In the areas between this town and the visita of Dasol, there is a mine which, according to an investigative body, seems to be copper. All the land surrounding the town can be said to be made up of uninterrupted stone quarry similar to granite (berroquena), very white and superlatively fine-grained.
It has common boundaries with Santa Cruz in the south, seven leagues away, and Agno in the west, six leagues away. In the north is Sarapsap, a league and a half away.”
By the grace of God and through the patience and endurance of the missionaries, the whole missionary efforts were a success. Romanillos quotes:
“In 1618, the Royal officials of Manila took cognizance of the profound transformation the province had undergone since the advent of the religious: ‘they had reduced the province of Zambales to the political life and to the fold of the Church, as the first conquestadores of these savages who had earlier slain all those who arrived in their territories and who – through these fathers’ hard work – are now among the safest in these islands.”
By 1645, there were only six priests in Zambales: two in Mariveles, two in Masinloc and two in Bolinao. The towns were only visited by the missionaries twice a year due to the difficulties in transportation, climate and some dangers in the mountains. One of the two missionaries – sometimes both of them – would periodically leave the central mission residence and visit other communities and settlements that dotted the shoreline and mountains where majority of the people continued to reside.
But this success did not last very long. In 1661, the missionaries were temporarily recalled from Zambales due to the uprising of Sumulay, a Zambal leader and Andres Malong, a Pangasinan leader. They joined forces in suppressing not necessarily the missionaries and their work but the Spanish Government. The Recollects in Manila sent some reinforcements to help the troubled towns. But the damages were too much to bear that despite the efforts of Fray Juan Blancas de la Madre de Dios, Fray Bernardino de la Conception and Luis de San Jose, they were withdrawn by their superiors in Manila.
They came back to continue their work in 1666. Three more priests were added through the office of the Recollectos Provincial Cristobal de Santa Monica in 1671. Since then, their work was very successful that it aroused the envy of the Dominicans who administered the eastern side of the mountains (Tarlac and Pampanga). The Dominicans appealed to Archbishop Felipe Pardo, their conferrer who happened to be the Archbishop of Manila at that time, to give Zambales missions to them. Jose de San Nicolas, the Provincial of the Recollects, obeyed and withdrew his friars from Zambales and went instead to Mindoro in 1679. The Recollects felt betrayed by the action of the Provincial superior. They appealed their case to the Council of the Indies to reverse the decision of exchanging their “beloved ministries in Zambales, first-born offspring of their spirit” to the Dominicans. After decades of litigation, the Recollects returned to Zambales in 1712.
II. 18th and 19th Century Developments of Balingcaguin
18th century marked the start of secularization in the archipelago. While the Spanish missionaries and government taught us many things like religion, infrastructure, culture and civility, they also unknowingly helped us be ourselves as Filipinos. This created systematic resistance and revolt in the provinces (like the Palaris revolt in 1763 in Western Pangasinan and northern Zambales).
The Church was not spared from the Secularization movement. There was a clamor to have secular priests to take care of the parishes. Yet it did not prosper easily due to the might of the Spanish Rule the reluctance of the uninformed Filipinos. There was a time when the parish priests of Balincaguin took care of the parish of San Jose de Zarapsap (Alaminos) from 1776 to 1833. They had assistants who were most likely secular priests (like Fr. Torribio Raymundo (1778), Fr. Torribio de Victoria (1815) and Fr. Ramon Aquino (1818), Fr. Domingo Mangilinan (1819). Montemayor notes:
“but because of a notable increase in population, and considering the great distance the roving missionary had to travel every week to commute between the two towns, the town of Casborran (another name of Alaminos) urgently asked and agitated for a resident parish priest.”
On 1800, San Vicente de Dasol, a visita or anejo of Balincaguing, separated from the parish and existed as a separate parish with her own resident Parish priest. San Isidro de Potot (Burgos) followed and became a parish in 1876.
When San Vicente de Dasol became a parish, a report on Balincaguin said:
“Balincaguin, as per records, began to exist as a town in the year 1800 under the leadership of Don Isidro Puzon. In those days, the head of the town was called “capitan”, which is equivalent to the position of the town mayor today. It had a population then of 770 families, majority of which were Ilocanos who migrated to the Municipality to settle permanently due to its fertile soil. These settlers grouped themselves on a plain situated near the mountains and called the site “conventa”. They produced superior quality of rice which was marketed to Manila and even to China. Other agricultural products were corn, sugar, cane, cotton, etc. aside from agriculture, there were home industries like saddle-making, knapsack-making and hat-weaving. They also engaged in raising cattles, carabaos, horses and goats. During those days, numerous bats inhabited the town and this drove the people to catch them. The catching of bats continued for many years until in finally in 1930, these winged creatures had gone deeper to the forests.”
A great flood struck Balincaguin in 1832. According to a report:
“…in 1832, the Conventa was flooded. It was a big flood as evidenced by the fact that the Catholic Church and the convent and all other houses erected therein were under water. Aware of the danger of repetition of the incident, the settlers transferred the town site to the upper grounds where in is now presently located”
We find an interesting documentation (1850) from Manuel Buzeta and Felipe Bravo regarding our parish:
“The Town with a parish and a mayor, in the island of Luzon, province of Zambales, Archdiocese of Manila…it is exposed to the prevailing winds that hit real hard. The terrain here is rugged. The climate is temperate and healthy.
[This town] was founded in 1610 by the recollect Fathers. At present, it has 1,110 houses of the simple type that is common in this land. Among these are the parish house and the community hall or ‘tribunal’. There is a prison house and a primary school, [the latter] with several students and wit the support of the community funds. It has a parish church under the care of a parish priest belonging to a religious order.
Falling within the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of this town are its two visitas or anejos, namely, San Vicente de Dasol, and San Isidro de Potot. Not far from the church is the cemetery, which is well kept and breezy.
This town communicates with its neighbors through ordinary roads. It receives the local mail once a week on days that vary. It has common boundaries with the above-mentioned visitas. Its area is quite large.
On its mountains, one can find [a lot of] excellent wood for construction different kinds of palms and rattans, an abundance of game, big and small, such as buffaloes, wild boars, deer, cocks, turtledoves and so on, as well as honey and wax deposited by bees. The farm land is quite fertile. Its products are rice, wheat, corn, cotton, indigo, sugar cane and all kinds of vegetables, and fruits common to this land.
Its industry is made up of the benefits from its natural and agricultural products, hunting, fishing and weaving. Business is limited to the exploration of surplus from their products and of importation of goods produced elsewhere and from the markets of Manila.
Its population is 6,680 souls, 426 tributes, which reached up to 14,240 reales plata, equivalent to 55,600 vn.”
Another tragedy struck our Church in 1852. According to a report:
“sometime in 1852, the Catholic Church was struck by lightning and was burned down. The Church, although with concrete walls, used to be sheltered with cogon grass which was known to be a friend of fire once it is dried”
An 1878 report from Patricio Marcellan de San Jose states:
[page 69] Town of Balincaguin
The foundation of this town is a result of the labors and preaching of Father Friar Andres del Espiritu Santo, who moved from the island of Bolinao to the mainland of Luzon, where he gathered many Christians and constructed a Church under the patronage of the Holy Name of Jesus. The town is near the mountains. It gets flooded during the season of rains.
The farm products of the place are rice and fruits, which are found in abundance because the soil is fertile. Animals meant for work or food multiplies fast because of good pasture. The forests offer excellent wood, which is exported to other places. Its parish priest, a nominee of the vice-patron, is Father Friar Silverio Leon de la Conception, 33 years of age. A Profile of the Parishioners (Estado de Almas de la Parroquia): Natives paying tributes (2112); Exempted by privilege (133); Exempted due to age and sickness (120); Single, male and female, 13-18 years old (299); Single, male and female, 8-12 years old (658); Children (317); total number of souls (4138) (but should be 3639); Tributes (1122 ½).
Sometime in 1881, a second great flood devastated Balincaguin. A report states:
“…forty nine years later after the first flood devastated the town, another one occurred. It had a more disastrous effect to livestock, human lives, and properties than the first one. I was popularly called as “The Flood of Don Nicolas” because the head of the town at that time was Capitan Don Nicolas Rivera. The 20-meter hill that is commonly called “Olumbuaya Hill” which means “Crocodile’s head” was almost under water.”
During these times, revolts and resistance were happening across the Philippines. According to the report in the chroniclers of Alaminos:
“On March 7, 1898, a revolution broke out in Alaminos and the other thirteen towns where the influence of General Manalang has caused the formation of their respective katipunan organizations”. Jose Dizon, Santiago Ramos and Marcos Ysasi were the leaders of Balincaguin.
The revolutionaries in 1898-1899 were a period of more killings of friars. On March 6-7, 1898, our Recollectos Parish priest, Fray Epifanio Vergara, was killed together with Fray Manuel Azagra (Bolinao), Fray Mariano Torrente (San Isidro), Fray Andres Romero (Alaminos), Fray Juan Navas (Dasol), Fray Julian Jimenez (Poonbato). A detained report states:
“At about 11:00am of the same day, reports reached Gen. Manalang that most of the Towns under his command were already liberated from Spanish rule. Balincaguin fell into the hands of the insurgents (Katipuneros) as early as 9:00am, March 7, 1898. The calzadores and the civiles there were wiped out. The parish priest of Balincaguin, Fr. Epifanio Vergara, fought on the side of the cazadores against the insurgents and was slain in the fight.”
III. 20th to 21st Century Developments
1. Changes in civic territories and renaming of the town
The early years of the 20th century marked the changes and reorganization of the territorial jurisdictions between Zambales and Pangasinan. On November 21, 1903, the northern part of Zambales was annexed to Pangasinan. By virtue of USPC Act No. 1004, Balincaguin, together with Dasol, San Isidro de Potot, Bolinao, Zaragoza, Alaminos and Infanta became part of Western Pangasinan. Bani, Anda and Agno also became part of Western Pangasinan on December 19, 1903.
On the local level, the name of the town “Balincaguin” was changed to “Mabini” by virtue of Act No. 3552, 8th PL, 2nd Regular Session effective November 23, 1929. This was due to the great and prevailing nationalistic spirit of the whole country when our heroes, especially the Great Paralytic Apolinario Mabini, the Brains of the Katipunan and chief advisor of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, achieved what they were longing and fighting for: the Declaration of Independence from the Spanish Rule (June 12, 1898).
2. Changes in the ecclesiastical territories and jurisdictions
While towns were being realigned to different civil jurisdictions and territories, the Diocese and her parishes were doing the same. Now that Mabini was part of Western Pangasinan, she now belonged to the newly created Diocese of Lingayen on May 19, 1928 with Most Rev. Cesar Maria Guerrero as Resident Bishop. Diocese of Lingayen became independent from the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia due to the growing number of parishioners in Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Viscaya, and Nueva Ecija. The Diocese was renamed Lingayen-Dagupan and it became an Archdiocese on February 16, 1963. The new Archdiocese only covered the whole of Pangasinan. Most Rev. Mariano Madriaga was the Archbishop. In January 12, 1985, Diocese of Alaminos (to which our parish now belongs) and Diocese of Urdaneta were created and became separate from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Most Rev. Jesus Cabrera is the first Bishop of the Diocese of Alaminos.
3. Other Significant events in the parish
Another great flood devastated Mabini in 1957. Those who survived believed that it was the most destructive of all the floods that struck Mabini (and the neighboring towns) to this date. A report said:
This flood was called “the flood of Don Osting” because the mayor at that time was Don Justo de Guzman, Jr. The Olumbuaya Hill was totally submerged and the people were caught unaware of the impending disaster because it was past midnight when the flashflood occurred. More than 700 people living in the low valley and other low-lying barangays perished and approximately 80% of their homes and animals were swept away by the rampaging water and were carried away by the strong current towards the next town and into the China Sea. Because of this event, some of the affected families decided to move to another place to reside permanently.”
When heavy rains and floods occur in Mabini, the Church was always used as evacuation center due to its elevated location and the feeling of security of staying inside a building made of “adobe”. That was until the early morning of December 12, 1999. The old Sto. NinoChurch (built in 1830) was torn down by a strong earthquake. Majority of the stone walls, the façade and the altar collapsed. With the basic structure and foundation of the old Church still intact, the people of Mabini decided to repair and restore the old and beloved Church of Sto. Nino and was blessed on 2005.
There had been quite a few vocations to the priesthood in the parish. Many enter the seminary but, by God’s mysterious plan, they go out and pursue another vocation. Not until on 1998 when Fr. Rey Jose Ragudos was ordained to the Order of Presbyterate. Thus far, he is the only priest that this parish has produced. At present, he is now the Vicar General of the Diocese.
There were two Christ the King (Cristo Rey) celebrations that were held in the Parish. The first was on 1981. It was a provincial occasion since there was only one Diocese for the whole province of Pangasinan. The second was on 2001. Aside from the spiritual benefits of the occasion, the people sought to hold the Diocesan celebration in order to solicit more funds for the restoration of the century-old Sto. NinoChurch which was destroyed by an earthquake on 1999.
Most Rev. Jesus Cabrera, DD invited the Missionaries Sisters of the Holy Trinity to help in the pastoral work of the parish priest. They came to Mabini in 1995. They built their own convent in 1996. Their help in the parish is indespensible. They are involved in the catechetical ministry in the parish. They are also reliable assistant of the parish priest on various pastoral work and evangelization and formation of the youth, children and the religious organizations and movements.
The old convent and the parish office were transferred on the other side of the Church on 2006. The present location of the new convent and office was used to be the temporary church (or chapel) which was no longer being used due to the fact that the newly restored Church was already operating.
The old Municipal hall was also renovated in 2008. It now stands beautifully and was blessed in 2009.
Most Rev. Marlo Peralta, DD, the present bishop of the Diocese, chose Sto. Nino Parish to be another recipient of the Partnership of the Dioceses of Alaminos and Limburg (Germany). The partnership has been in the Diocese since her birth. The aim of the partnership is sharing of faith and life among the two Dioceses. St. Joseph Cathedral Parish (Alaminos), Immaculate Conception Parish (Bani), Our Lady of Lourdes (Salasa) are already benefiting from this Partnership. On the occasion of the Quadri-centennial celebration of the parish on January 14, 2010, our German friends visited us.
With the rich past of our parish and the present fruits of our ancestors, we are very hopeful, with the guiding hand of the Sto. Nino (who holds the globe in His palm), for the things to come in the future!
John N. Schumacher, SJ. Readings in Philippine Church History, 2nd edition, (Quezon City: Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, 1987).
Pablo Fernandez, OP. History of the Church in the Philippines (1521-1898). (Manila: National Bookstore).
Lucio Gutierrez, OP. The Archdiocese of Manila, a pilgrimage in Time (1565-1999) Vol. 1. (Manila: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, 1999).
Emmanuel Sunga, Ruperto Santos, Armando de Jesus, The Archdiocese of Manila, A Pilgrimage in Time (1565-1999) Vol. II. (Manila: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, 1999).
Emmanuel Romanillos. The Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines, Hagiography and History.
William Henry Scott. Barangay, 16th century Philippine Culture and Society (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Felix M. Montemayor, Alaminos, Achievers All, 1983.
Edilberto V. Santos. Western Pangasinan: Earliest Beginnings 1572-1898 as Told by Primary Sources. Vol. 1 (AlaminosCity: Diocese of Alaminos).
The 2008-2009 Catholic Directory in the Philippines (Manila: CBCP and Claretian Press).
Rosario Mendoza Cortes, Pangasinan, 1901-1986: A Political, Socioeconomic and cultural History (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1990).
Rosario Mendoza Cortes, Pangasinan, 1572-1800 (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1990).
Vice Mayor Alimar Briana, State of the Municipal Address (SOMA) 2009.
 This is the old name of the town of Mabini. It is a combination of three Zambal words: bali lan caguin (abode of bats).
 John N. Schumacher, SJ. Readings in Philippine Church History, 2nd edition, (Quezon City: Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, 1987) p.1.
 Op. cit. pp. 3-4.
 Although he is a Portugese, Magellan obtained his Spanish nationality in order to serve the Spanish Crown so that he could try to find a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, cf. Wikipedia, “Ferdinand Magellan”
 Op.cit. p. 12-13.
 Pablo Fernandez, OP. History of the Church in the Philippines (1521-1898).(Manila: National Bookstore) p. 12.
 They were called reyezuelos by the Spaniands. Cf. Lucio Gutierrez, OP. The Archdiocese of Manila, a pilgrimage in Time (1565-1999) Vol. 1. (Manila: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, 1999) p. 2.
 This word is used not in a derogative way. It is to distinguish indigenous Filipinos of Malay blood and Philippine-born Spaniards. “Filipino” as we now use it, can only have its full sense with the rise of national consciousness in the latter half of the 19th century. Cf. Schumacher, p. x.
 The Spaniards called the Philippines by this name.
 Emmanuel Romanillos. The Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines, Hagiography and History. P. 103 quoting from Francisco Sabada. Catalogo de los religiosos agustinos recoletos de la Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino de Filipinas desde el ano 1606, en que llego la primera mission a Manila, hasta nuestros dias, Madrid 1906, 17.
 William Henry Scott. Barangay, 16th century Philippine Culture and Society (Manila: Ateneo de Manila university Press) p.250.
 Felix M. Montemayor, Alaminos, Achievers All, 1983. p. 35.
 Scott. p. 251.
 Ibid. p. 252.
 Cf. Montemayor, P. 36-37.
 Romanillos, p. 118.
 Report of Fray Joseph de la Conception entitled “Origen, Progresos y Estado de la Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino en las Islas Philipinas y de Religiosos Recoletos Descalzo de Nuestro Padre San Agustin hasta el presente ano de mil setecientos y cincuenta”. Cf. Edilberto V. Santos. Western Pangasinan: Earliest Beginnings 1572-1898 as Told by Primary Sources. Vol. 1 (AlaminosCity: Diocese of Alaminos) p. 8.
 This name Santissimo Nombre de Jesus, was also the patron of Cebu which was retained up to this present age.
 A report by Fray Felix dela Encarnacion to his superiors in Spain entiled “Estadistica de la Provincia de S. Nicolas de Tolentino de PP. Agustinos Recoletos de Filipinas. Cf. Santos, pp.12-13.
 Cf. Romanillos, p. 120.
 Op. cit. p. 121.
 Op. cit. p. 122.
 A rebel from Binalatongan (San CarlosCity today) Pangasinan. He rose in arms against the Spanish Government in December 1660. He was arrested by a joint Filipino-Spanish force and executed in his town a year later. Cf. Romanillos, p. 121.
 Cf. Schumacher, p. 100.
 Cf. Romanillos, p. 122-123.
 Cf.Fernandez, p. 25.
 Ibid. p. 123.
 These priests were assigned in Zarapsap but they were not in the records of the Augustinian Recollects. Most likely, they were secular priests.
 Montemayor, p. 41.
 The 2008-2009 Catholic Directory in the Philippines (Manila: CBCP and Claretian Press) p.2.
 A written speech delivered by Vice Mayor Alimar Briana during the State of the Municipal Address (SOMA) 2009.
 Diccionario Geografico, Estadistico, Historico de las Islas Filipinas, cf. Santos, p. 43.
 Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino de Agustinos Descalzos de la Congregacion de Espana e Indias, cf Santos. Pp.32-33.
 Briana, SOMA, p.2.
 Montemayor, p. 69.
 Cf. Rosario Mendoza Cortes, Pangasinan, 1901-1986: A Political, Socioeconomic and cultural History (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1990), p. 20.
 Op. cit. p. 20. See also endnote.