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THE HISTORY OF SAINT ALPHONSUS MARY DI LIGUORI PARISH
In the early 1960s, the residents of Magallanes Village belonged to the Parish of San Pedro, Makati, Rizal. However, the spiritual needs of the people of the large territory of San Pedro could not be properly attended to because of the small size of the parochial church.
In 1965, that the idea of putting up a parish for Magallanes Village was first conceptualized by a group of ladies from the village, led by Mrs. Corazon Arcenas. Sunday masses were first held inside the village at the house of Mrs. Nene Diokno, then at Magdalena Park, and even at the unfinished warehouse of the would-be South Supermarket, where Paseo de Magallanes Commercial Center now stands.
Monsignor Ferdinand Mempin, together with the ladies to whom he served as spiritual adviser, spearheaded the construction and establishment of our church. On June 7, 1967, the then Archbishop of Manila, His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos approved the naming of Saint Alphonsus Maria di Liguori as titular or patron saint, to honor Don Alfonso Zobel, who donated the 3,890 square meters of land for the church. Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint James the Apostle were also approved as secondary patrons, in honor of Don Alfonso’s grandmother Carmen Ayala-Roxas and son, Jaime Zobel.
Two months later, His Eminence, Rufino Cardinal Santos laid and blessed the cornerstone of the church. A committee was formed to lay out the plans and gather the resources to begin construction. They contracted a National Artist, Architect Leandro Locsin, to design the church. On July 11, 1968, after a little over ten months of brainstorming and fundraising, the church construction commenced. About one year and three weeks later, the church was completed in time for St. Alphonsus’s feast day (August 1). It was on a Saturday, August 2, 1969, that the first mass was held at the newly-built parish.
For about one year since its completion, Saint Alphonsus Mary di Liguori Parish (SAMLP) existed without a pastor. However, on March 3, 1971, the Parish was blessed with its first leader – none other than the very priest who envisioned and spearheaded the church – Msgr. Ferdinand Mempin. Under his ten-year pastorship (1971-1981), a rectory and a funeral chapel were built in 1971 and 1976, respectively.
He was succeeded by the late Msgr. Nico Bautista, who was installed by Bishop Miguel Sobrevinas on the 25th of April 1981. It was during his term (1981-1987) that Sunday Masses in Tagalog started. He provided cushions for the kneelers and was able to acquire a sizable lot behind the rectory. Fidel V. Ramos was then serving under the presidency of the late former president Corazon Aquino as General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Msgr. Bautista talked with former president Ramos, who was at the time a Magallanes Village resident, and the latter decided to donate to SAMLP the said lot, which was property of Villamor Airbase. On the lot now stands the Garden of the Risen Christ (the crypts), built much later in the late 1990s.
After Msgr. Bautista, SAMLP welcomed its third Parish Priest, Msgr. Benedicto Aquino. He converted the old funeral chapel into a 24-hour adoration chapel. He also gathered the resources to initiate free medical clinics every Saturday. <insert other accomplishments here>
Nine years later, on January 30, 1996, the reigns were passed onto the fourth Parish Priest, Msgr. Ernesto Cruz. He made several renovations and improvements to the nearly 26-year old church which was now under his care. He had the adoration chapel, the altar wall, and the baptistery renovated in time for Saint Alphonsus’s feast day of the year 2000. On April 1 of the following year, the “Broken Bread” altar table (which survived the fire of 2004) was blessed. This table and the big wooden crucifix used for Good Friday were both taken from the ruins and are used up to now.
Another great accomplishment during Msgr. Cruz’s time was the construction of the “Garden Way of the Cross”, blessed by Bishop Yalung in March 24, 2002. National Artist Landscape Architect Ildefonso “I.P.” Santos undertook the overall designing of the Garden. The sculptures were commissioned masterpieces by other well-known artists such as Napoleon Abueva, Eduardo Castrillo, Hadrian Mendoza, Ramon Orlina, Impy Pilapil, and Jun Vicaldo, donated by fourteen parishioners.
On December 14, 2002, the blessing of the Carillon Bells and tower officiated by Rev. Fr. Josefino Ramirez took place. It was also around this time that Msgr. Cruz cleared the back lot of the rectory and built a “Bahay Kubo” with the intention of providing a venue for social gatherings, recollections, and similar affairs. Following this project, he also made it possible for the church to become fully air-conditioned by 2003.
Msgr. Cruz was later reassigned to a different church after eight and a half years, and God sent us our fifth Parish Priest in the person of Rev. Fr. Benito B. Tuazon. He was installed by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales on September 3, 2004. Unfortunately, in less than a week, a fire caused by faulty wiring consumed the church and brought it down to ruins. The Bahay Kubo, which fellow parishioner Rino M. Gomez reminds us is “a symbol of a true Filipino house of brotherhood“ (Souvenir Program, page 31), became the alternate place of worship.
In the year following the incident, a fundraising committee and a special events group were formed for the rebuilding of a new church. They tapped pulled all their resources together to let the church rise from the ashes. They organized various activities and events such as the “Pag-aalay Concert”, in cooperation with the Ministry of Music; “Clean your Closet for a Cause”, with the Legion of Mary; Christmas Concert by the Ruins (December 2004); Bazaar at the Ruins (February 2005); “Car Raffle” with the Catholic Women’s’ League; “Serenade at the Ruins” (March 2005); “Swing and Putt for Saint Alphonsus”; and “Man of La Mancha”, in cooperation with Repertory Philippines Production, to name a few.
The groundbreaking, led by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, took place on September 9, 2005. Even more fundraisers followed the groundbreaking, and in August 2006, the 10-10-25 Campaign was launched. The Campaign was adapted from a successful initiative undertaken by the Our Lady of Pentecost Parish in Quezon City. The 10-10-25 scheme represented ten various amounts to be pledged for ten months to complete the goal of 25 million pesos needed to finish the church. The Campaign, under the leadership of Mrs. Dada Moreno, successfully ran from August 2006 to June 2007. The goal amount of 25 million pesos was reached just a few days after June 30, 2007 the final day. Donations kept pouring in even after the campaign.
The new church was completed in time for the Feast Day of Saint Alphonsus. On August 1, 2007, the Solemn Dedication of SAMLP took place, officiated by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. He was joined by Lipa Archbishop Ramon V. Arguelles, Bishops Camilo Gregorio of Batanes, Franciso C. San Diego of Pasig, Deogracias S. Iniguez of Caloocan, Gabriel V. Reyes of Antipolo and Mylo Hubert C. Vergara of San Jose de Nueva Ecija, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortes, Bishop-elect Francisco de Leon of Antipolo, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro C. Bacani and 30 other priests from various parishes and religious orders.
On May 1, 2010, St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish once again welcomed its current parish priest, Rev. Fr. Edwin E. Mercado, who once joined us as our first Assistant Parish Priest. Fr. Edwin was installed last June 26, 2010 by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. Like his predecessors, Fr. Mercado has high hopes for his flock. Fr. Edwin with his “Edwinism“ (quick to grace a laugh to everyone on almost anything), is focusing on parishioners’s active involvement, formation, and environmental awareness. Specifically, Fr. Edwin is calling all parishioners to “Face the new challenges of the Parish and act on it together as one.“ These new challenges are:
- Legacy Building
In 2010, Rev. Fr. Richard Sampler Garrido joined our Parish as Parochial Vicar (Assistant Parish Priest). This solemn Priest is very active in Annointing the sick and elderly parishioners. In less than a year, Fr. Richard took charge of the day-to-day administration of the Parish.
In April 2011, we are again blessed with a new Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Isidro T. Marinay. Fr. Sid was installed on June 11th 2011 by H.E. Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. The Celebration was attended by more than 30 Bishops and Priests. The new Parish Pastoral Council was also presented by Fr. Sid to Cardinal Rosales.