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Evangelization of Negros

Evangelization of Negros

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1566  Beginnings of the Christianization of the Island of Negros with the foundation of the missions of Binalbagan (1575-78), Tanjay (1580-83) and Ilog (1584-86) by the Augustinian missionaries.

Unfortunately, they had to abandon these missions due to lack of priests. The Augustinian Fathers Geronimo Marin and Francisco Manrique were the first resident missionaries to serve the island.

The old Cathedral of Bacolod built by the famous Recollect Mauricio Ferrero


At the request of Bishop Pedro de Arce of Cebu, the Recollects came to Negros. The spiritual administration of Binalbagan (including that of Kabankalan) was ceded to them.

Famous among the first Recollect missionaries who came to Negros was Blessed Martin de San Nicolás (1627-30). He became later a martyr of the Faith in Japan (1632). Other Recollects missionaries assigned in Binalbagan: Fr. Lorenzo de San Facundo (1629-32), Fr. Gaspar de Sta Monica (1630-32), Fr. Jacinto de San Fulgencio (1632-35) and Fr. Juan de San José (1635-38) and Bro. Francisco de San Nicolás (1635).


At the order of the Recollect Provincial Fr. Jose de la Anunciacion, the Recollect missionaries left Negros in exchange of Romblon.

The convent of Binalbagan was entrusted to the Jesuits who came earlier in 1630 with Frs. Esteban Jayme, Francisco Angel and Francisco Luzon as first Jesuit missionaries of the island.


After the expulsion of the Jesuits in the Philippines in 1767, the Dominican missionaries came to continue the spiritual administration of Negros with Fr. Manuel Diez assigned in Kabankalan (but died in 1774) and another one to Guilungan (now a barrio of Cauayan). They left the island in 1781 and never returned.


May 27: Governor General Narciso Claveria passed to the provincials of the four religious orders a request by the Bishop Romualdo Jimeno of Cebu for the spiritual administration of the island of Negros to any of them.

Two days later the Recollect Provincial replied accepting the island and promising to send six priests within six months.

June 20: Governor General Narciso Claveria accepted the offering and entrusted “the spiritual administration of Negros to the Recollects that they may occupy those parishes and missions vacant and those that as time goes on would be vacant.”

June 26: The Recollects willingly accepted the spiritual administration of Negros with sustained joy. The parishes of Amlan and Siaton in the eastern coast and Kabankalan and Himamaylan in the western were the first four parishes in Negros turned over to the Recollects between August 28 and October 28, 1848. The first three were then newly created parishes, separated from Tanjay, Dauin and Himamaylan, respectively.

Himamaylan, had a parish priest since 1842, the well-known peninsular priest Jose Maria Pavon, who was transferred to the nearby parish of Hinigaran, which had been founded the previous month of February.

Fr. Fernando Cuenca

Among the pioneering Recollect missionaries who came to Negros were: Fr. Ramón Cabas in Amlan, Fr. Agustín Olmedillas in Siaton, Fr. Tómas Mezquita in Himamaylan, Fr. Andrés Cobos in Kabankalan and Fr. Fernando Cuenca in Talisay.

In five decades, the Recollects established in Negros no less than 56 parishes and missionary stations: 16 between 1848 and 1861; 11 from 1866 to 1889; and 29 in last 7 years.


February: Fr. Ezekiel Moreno arrived in Talisay to undergo hydrotherapeutic treatment of his anemia under Fr. Fernando Cuenca, the parish priest of Talisay.


Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, OAR (1844-1916), the parish priest of Bacolod (1871-94; 1897-98; 1902-10; 1914-16), began the construction of the new church. In the afternoon of 27 April, the Dominican Bishop Mariano Cuartero (1813-1884) laid the cornerstone of the present church.

Fr. Mauricio Ferrero


The inauguration of the new church of Bacolod took place on January 20. It was blessed by Bishop Mariano Cuartero of Jaro on October 19 of that same year. Beside the parish priest-builder Fr. Mauricio, the ecclesiastical provisor, two Calced Augustinians, three Vincentians and seventeen Recollect priest attended the rites.


July 1: After having bought the Colegio de la Sagrada Familia, the Recollects opened the Colegio de San Jose, a school for boys with primary and secondary classes.

The enrolment for primary reached 50 and 82 for secondary. Don Miguel Maria Lara, the founder of Colegio de la Sagrada Familia, took charge of the primary department. Father Tomas Preciado who was assigned from June 1896 until December 1898 was responsible for all the subjects of the first year high school.

Father Pedro Corro was its director of the school from its opening in June 1896 until October 1898 when it was temporarily closed due to the Negros Revolution.

It was never reopened then. The lot where its buildings stood were eventually donated in 1902 to the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental for the government-owned secondary school, Instituto Rizal.

Fr. Pedro Corro


November 21: During the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, thirty-five Recollects were arrested and jailed in Puerto San Juan (Ferrero-maid prison). There were only five curates in Negros who were unharmed by the revolutionists: Frs. Fernando Cuenca of Talisay, Mauricio Ferrero of Bacolod, Miguel Alvarez of Murcia, Pedro Bengoa of Vallehermoso and Tomas Preciado, curate of Talisay, Negros.


January 20 – February 1: The Recollect prisoners were transferred on foot to La Granja, La Carlota where they suffered humiliation, hardships of manual labor―cutting grass, cleaning roads, hauling timber― and poverty.

Finally, through the effort of the German Vice Consul in Iloilo and General Aniceto Lacson, the thirty-five Recollect prisoners were released from their captivity. Aboard the Spanish vessel S/S Monserrat, they left behind 363, 255 souls in sixty-seven curacies in Negros.


The Recollects returned to Negros: Fr. Marcelino Simonena to Talisay in July and Fr. Eusebio Valderrama to San Carlos on October 22. They were the first Recollect missionaries to set foot on the island after the Philippine Revolution.


May 16: Fr. Victor Baltanas, the Recollect parish priest of Escalante (1907-09), was treacherously murdered by schismatic followers of Gregorio Aglipay.

Fr. Victor Baltanas


September 16: Pope St. Pius X elevated the Congregation of Augustinian Recollects to a religious order.


July 15: Pope Pius XI issued a Papal Bull creating the Diocese of Bacolod, removing Negros from the Diocese of Jaro. Bacolod became the episcopal seat of the diocese, administering the parishes of Negros and island of Siquijor.


August: The Colegio de Santa Rita, the oldest Catholic school in San Carlos City was established. After the invitation of Fr. Manuel Gomara, three Recollect sisters were sent to San Carlos City to begin their foundation and educational apostolate. The pioneering sisters were Mo. Asuncion de San Jose, Sor Pilar de San Jose and Sor Mercedes Jayme de la Sagrada Familia.

The Recollect Fathers and Sisters in San Carlos

October 24: Bishop Casimiro M. Lladoc was installed as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod. He served the diocese for 18 years (1933-51). Among others, his episcopacy focused on the construction of schools, strengthening the apostolate and other pastoral works. He firmly fought against secularization and Protestantism. He died on September 21, 1951 at the age of 58.


The Recollects chose San Carlos in Negros as the site of the first formal school of the Order, Santo Tomas de Villanueva – Recoletos after the short-lived Colegio de San Jose in Bacolod (1896-1898). Father Tirso Ruana, the parish priest of San Carlos (1940-1941), acquired a 13, 357 square meter land and began the construction of the school.

Father Manuel Gomara continued the construction until its completion after the death of Fr. Ruana. Bishop Casimiro Lladoc of Bacolod blessed and inaugurated it on July 1, 1941. The school was formally opened on June 23, 1941 with a total number of 167 students.

Father Pedro Zunzarren was its first rector (1941-1945). The onset of World War II cut short the operation of the school until its reopening on June 2, 1945.

Some of the many Recollects assigned in San Carlos, Neg. Occ.


March 31 – April 2: The Recollect provincial chapter of San Nicolas de Tolentino approved the foundation of the Minor Seminary (Colegio Apostolico) in San Carlos, thus saving Colegio de Santo Tomas from its impending closure due to a severe economic crisis.

May 8: The Sacred Congregation for Religious in Rome approved the creation of the canonical house of the Apostolic College of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in San Carlos, Negros Occidental.

The Minor Seminary formally opened its first academic year 1948-1949 with Fr. Antonio Ausejo as the first in-charge of the seminarians with Fr.Bernardino Fabregat as assistant.

Of the first eleven seminarians who entered, only two were ordained to priesthood as the first Recollect priests produced by the Minor Seminary. They were the late Fr. Oscar de la Rosa and Fr. Faustino Paglinawan.


May 11: At the request of the Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines, Bishop Casimiro Lladoc formally informed the Recollect Superior Fr. Pedro Zunzarren of his intention to transfer the spiritual administration of the southern parishes of Negros to the Columban missionaries.

Immediately on June 16 of the same year, the Recollects willingly ceded the parishes of Isabela, Kabankalan, and La Castellana to the Irish Columbans.


May 29: Bishop Manuel Yap was installed as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod. Before his appointment as Local Ordinary of the diocese, he was an auxiliary Bishop of the (then) Diocese of Capiz. He lovingly shepherded the people of Negros for 14 years (1951-66).

He promoted the devotion to the Bible and encouraged and strengthened the presence and activities of the Lay Organizations, Movements and Associations (LOMAS) in the diocese. He died on October 16, 1966.

Bishop Manuel Yap, D.D.


April 5: The Diocese of Dumaguete was canonically erected. On October 24 of the same year, Bishop Epifanio Surban was consecrated as its first bishop of Dumaguete at Cebu Cathedral.

The new diocese comprises the civil provinces of Siquijor and Negros Oriental, from Dumaguete City up to Escalante in the north of Negros Occidental, and from Bacong to Kalumboyan and Basay in the south.


March 14-18: Bishop Manuel Yap convoked the First Bacolod Diocesan Synod which was attended by selected priests of the diocese.


May 25: The Recollects purchased the University of Negros Occidental (UNO), founded by Dr. Antonio Lizares and Dr. Francisco Kilayko. Father Federico Terradillos, ORSA became the acting rector of the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) until 1964.

The Recollect administration of UNO made the University as the first Catholic University in Negros.


February 24: Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich became the third Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod. Faithful to the call of renewal of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council (1962-65), he courageously fought against social problems that confronted the diocese and created developmental projects that would help the plight of the sugar workers and other marginalized sectors in Negros.

At the age of 75, he tendered his resignation as Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod, ending his 22-year old episcopacy (1967-88).


February 20: His Holiness Pope John Paul II officially visited the Diocese of Bacolod as part of his religious and pastoral visit to the Philippines (February 17-22) and his first historical journey to Asia. From the Bacolod City Airport, the Pope proceeded to the Cathedral and Bishop’s residence.

Then, he moved in a motorcade to the Reclamation Area to deliver his message to the people of Negros, especially to the people of the sugarcane plantations in Bacolod.

An old photo of Recollects in Bacolod with Msgr. Antonio Fortich


The Diocese of Bacolod was split into three dioceses, namely Bacolod, Kabankalan and San Carlos. On February 11 of the same year, Bishop Vicente M. Navarra was installed as the first Bishop of Kabankalan and Bishop Nicolás Modejar as first Bishop of San Carlos.


Bishop Camilo Gregorio was appointed the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod. Prior to his appointment, he served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu.

He remained serving the diocese for 11 years until his transfer to Cebu in the year 2000. His episcopacy responded to the challenges of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (1991).


Father Ramon Antonio Palacios founded the Recoletos Social Outreach Center (RESOURCE) as the community outreach project of the University Community Development Office (UCDO) of UNO-Recoletos at Brgy. Handumanan, Bacolod City. It was, then, assisted by both local and foreign sponsors.

The Recollect Vicariate of the Philippines and China absorbed it in 1994 with its new name Vicarial Augustinian Recollect Community Outreach Program (VARCOP). It was renamed RESOURCE in 1997 and established as a foundation on January 29, 2002 after the Securities and Exchange Commission released its certificate of incorporation.

RESOURCE Handumanan Foundation, Inc. is a community social service and development foundation of the Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno that plans, organizes, administers, regulates, and supports the community outreach programs of the Recollects in Negros Occidental.

Its services and projects include low-cost housing project, St. Ezekiel Moreno Learning Center (Vocational School), DYA-Recoletos Rescue and Ambulatory Services, St. Ezekiel Moreno Day Care Center, religious program and support services such as livelihood projects, literacy program, counseling, scholarship program and others.


August 10: the arrival of five Augustinian Recollect Contemplative Nuns from Spain to the Philippines to establish the Monastery of St Ezekiel Moreno in Bacolod City, their first foundation in Asia and the Philippines.

Accompanied by their Mother Federal Maria Cruz Aznar, the original members were composed of 3 Spanish sisters―the prioress, Mo. Lourdes Eizaguirre, Sis. Jose Maria Vila, Sis. Cristina Gonzales― and 2 Mexican sisters―Sis. Maria Carmen Orduña and Sis. Maria Elena

The Augustinian Recollect Contemplative Nuns with Mgsr. Camilo Gregorio and Fr. Ramon Antonio Palacios, OAR


August 28: The Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (SARF) marked its humble beginning in the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) as a new chapter. The University rector and prior Father Herminigildo Ceniza, OAR became its founding father and spiritual director.

There were more or less thirty aspirants who were accepted into the Trial Period but only fourteen made their promise as full-fledge SARF-Bacolod Chapter members on October 20 the following year at the Oratory of St. Nicholas of Tolentino.

The original professed members were Victoria Abagat (first chapter president), +Luis Claur (first chapter vice-president), Susan Grandeza, Susan Escalona, Nilda jamili, Vivien Uy (Oquiendo), Mary Jane Meñez (Eranista), Myrna Baynosa, Diana Concepcion, Ferdinand Concepcion, Carmenda Leonoras, Christopher Taclobos, Lydia Gutierrez and Lourdes Mirasol.

November 28, the 52nd OAR General Chapter held at Monachil, Granada, Spain decreed the elevation of the Philippine Recollect Vicariate to the rank of a Province, becoming the 8th in the whole Order, and the dedication of the new province to St. Ezekiel Moreno as its Patron.


February 10, the Eucharistic celebration for the solemn confirmation of the establishment of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno celebrated in Our Lady of Consolation Parish Church, Mira-Nila Homes, Tandang Sora Avenue, Quezon City.

Rome-based Prior General Javier Guerra Ayala, Vicar General Carlos Imas, the provincial superiors of St. Nicholas and St. Augustine, over 80 Recollect friars as well as seven bishops with Msgr. Camilo Gregorio of Bacolod as main celebrant led the inauguration and confirmation rites of the new province and of Fr. Victor Jose L. Lluch as its first Prior Provincial.

March 7, Pope John Paul II beatified the eight Recollect martyrs of Motril in Rome.


May 24: Bishop Vicente M. Navarra was appointed as the fifth Bishop of Bacolod. Prior to his installation as Bishop, he served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.

June 26: The Recollects of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno extended their assistance to the Diocese of Kabankalan as part of the formation team in the diocesan seminary. The first Recollect formators assigned in the diocese were Fr. Ronel Gealon, Fr. Arnel Diaz and Fr. Charlie Orobia.


February 10-21: Fr. Lauro Larlar, OAR was elected as the second Prior Provincial of the Recollects in the Philippines for the triennium 2003-2006 during the 2nd Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno at the Talavera House of Prayer – Recoletos in Cebu City.


Bishop Vicente M. Navarra convoked the historic Second Bacolod Diocesan Synod on October 4 and closed it on January 20, 2005. The synod initiated the new springtime for the Church in Negros.

The Recollect prior of UNO-R community, Father Emilio Larlar and the Recollect parish priest of Talisay, Fr. Joel Naranja represented the Recollect community in the Diocese of Bacolod.


February 13-15: Fr. Lauro Larlar, OAR was re-elected Prior Provincial of the Recollects in the Philippines for the triennium 2006-2009 during the 3rd Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno at the Talavera House of Prayer – Recoletos in Cebu City.


February: Fr. Regino Z. Bangcaya, OAR was elected as the third Prior Provincial of the Recollects in the Philippines for the triennium 2009-2012 by the capitulars of the 4th Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno at the Talavera House of Prayer – Recoletos in Cebu City.

Fr. Regino Z. Bangcaya, OAR


Angel Martinez Cuesta OAR, The Augustinian Recollects: Arrival in the Philippines, and Spread of Missionary Activities (Philippines: Recoletos Communications, Inc., 2006).

Dennis V. Madrigal (ed.), Handurawan Visita Iglesia Negros y Recoletos (Bacolod City: Printworld, 2006) pp. 19-24.

Emmanuel Luis A. Romanillos, The Augustinian Recollect Chronicles of St. Sebastian (April 26, 2008).

Modesto P. Sa-onoy, A Brief History of the Church in Negros Occidental (Bacolod City: Bacolod City Publishing House, 1976).

Photo Credits: Archivo Recoleto de Filipinas
Posted 13th August 2011 by Anonymous

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