Possibly the first parish in the Philippines to be dedicated to the Archangel is that of San Miguel de Manila, established in the 1620s, in the quarter known as Dilao, east of Intramuros.
San Miguel de Manila has had quite the history, founded in the left bank of the Pasig, it would cross the river and relocate itself in an area that was a become regal, because there would rise El Palacio de Malacañang, prime symbol in the Philippines of power and authority.
Apparently, until the founding of San Miguel, the Manila Japanese lived scattered in the villages of Dilao and Santiago. San Miguel was a Jesuit effort to bring the Japanese together in a quarter of their own. The barrio was part of Dilao until circa 1591, when the Jesuits established a mission there specifically for the Japanese. In time the mission grew into a parish independent of Dilao, which a church of its own dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.
How the church came to be built was recounted by the Jesuit missionary Marcelo Francisco Mastrili in his account in the Mindanao campaigns of Governor Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera in 1637. It can be assumed therefore that a provisional chapel of bamboo and nipa in San Miguel was replaced by Corcuera with a structure of hardier material, sometime in the later 1630s. By then relation between Manila and Japan had worsened; missionaries from the Philippines were being martyred in Nagasaki; and in 1637, Japan closed itself to the world: no foreigner might enter the island empire and no Japanese might travel abroad.
Prodessor Sei-ichi Iwao notes that initially there was feuding between Franciscan and Jesuits on the question of who should minister to the Japanese immigrants. The Jesuits claim that the Papal Bull had made all Japanese missions exclusively a Jesuits concern. On the other hand, many of the Japanese settled in Dilao, a parish managed by the Franciscan Friars.
“The mission work of the Franciscan Order among the Japanese settlers in Dilao was laid on a firm foundation in 1600 when Luis Sotelo, a Franciscan priest, arrived in Manila from Spain en route to Japan. While waiting for a vessel to carry him to Japan, Fr. Sotelo not only commenced mission work among the Japanese setllers in Dilao but began to study the Japanese language. He obtained from Governor General Tello, a relative of his, permission to built a church for their benefit, and in 1601 he built for them a small one in Dilao, roofed with coconut palm and betel leaves. In 1603, Miguel de Benavides, Archbishop of Manila, issued instructions that mission work among ghe Japanese settlers in the Philippines be placed under the control of the Franciscans. The Japanese colony in Dilao at that time had a population of some 500s, including Christians and non-Christians.”
As far as can be ascertained, therefore in 1618 was then the Japanese mission formerly a barrio of Dilao became known as the parish of San Miguel, a Jesuit creation independent of the Franciscan town of San Fernando Rey.
A rectory was built in San Miguel in 1627, to house the Jesuits manning the Japanese quarter. The stone convent costing P800 mostly funded by the Crown, would go down in history as a ‘seminary for martyrs because many of the Jesuits assigned there would later shed their blood for the Faith in Japan.
Though the Great Plague of 1628 and the Great Temblor of 1640 loom large in the history of San Miguel, neither it was suppress ordeal. The real fateful of the parish was 1762, when British occupied Manila- and thus set in motion of even that would yank San Miguel out of its original site and carry it across the Pasig River to a new location on the opposite bank.
On August 1 1768, the Philippine Jesuits, numbering 64 were deportedd from the island on Board the Acapulco Galleon San Carlos by the decree of expulsion by King Carlos III of Spain. The Society had served 187 years in the Philippines.
The Jesuit expulsion left the parish of San Miguel without pastors. It was ordered attached to the parish of Quiapo and for the next 9 years was under the ministry of the secular order. In 1777 it was placed in the care of the Franciscan Friars.
The problem of whether the San Miguel site should be evacuated was solved by a catastrophe: the great fire of 1778 that razed the whole arrabal. The civil authorities forbade the rebuilding of the village and ordered the the transfer of the parish to the opposite side of the parish. Fray Felix de Huerta gives 1783 as the year San Miguel crossed the river.
On its new location San Miguel had as its first Franciscan parish priest Fray Pedro Malo de Molina, who has rector from February 7 1797 to September 15 1801. In 1799 he started constructing a provisional parish church the camarin or bodega-like structure that later parrocos would recall with a shudder as being squat and ugly.
The new shrine of St. Michael took 36 years and 17 parish priests to construct, finally being inaugurated by Fray Esteban Mena in 1835 although the interior was incomplete. In 1839 during the Pastoral Visitation, the parish priest was given a tip: let him subject the town of San Miguel to a general census that could be turned into a fund campaign to provide the church with ceiling and sacristy.
The earthquake of 1852 demolished the church tower, which was reconstructed by the parroco of the time, Fray Francisco Febres. The next catastrophe was a big fire in 1859 that razed the parish. But 1859 was also when Barrio Uli-uli, formerly part of Pandacan, was annexed to San Miguel, extending the limit of the arrabal to that’s now a Santa Mesa Rotunda.
In 1871, Doña Margarita Roxas, matriarch of the clan now known as the Ayala, funded the reconstruction of San Miguel parish rectory. At that time, the parish records show, the town fiesta of San Miguel was celebrated on May 8 (Feast of Apparition of the Archangel) and not on September 29. This makes sense. September in Manila is wet, dark, muddy typhoon season. But Maytime is dry, sunny, idle fiesta season. The shift of the fiesta from May to September apparently occurred in the 1900s, when a renovated church (the renovations again financed by the Roxas de Ayalas) was inaugurated on a September 29, which was became fixed as the San Miguel fiesta.
Another earthquake hit the arrabal of San Miguel in 1880 and again the campanario and the convento crashed down. Parroco Marcos Hoyos did the reconstruction, replacing the church nipa roofs with galvanized iron sheets. The repairing lasted in 1885 and cost a total of P13 303. Donations by patrons and contributions of parishioners mounted to P4705 plus two reales and two centavos. However Don Enrique Barreto donated marble slabs while the tiles and bricks from the Makati kamaligs were contributed by the Chinese devout.
During the rectorship of Fray Emilio Gago, last parroco of San Miguel the parish, which has been burying its dead at fhe Paco cemetery at last acquired a Campo Santo of its own by purchasing half of the Balic-balic cemetery belonging to the parish of Sampaloc.
In 1900, the parish of San Miguel was turned over to Father Hipolito Arceo, whose rectorship (1900-1939) was at 40 years the longest in the history of the parish. Under his management, the church underwent repair and remodeling. Fr. Arceo had found a fairy godmother in Doñ Carmen Ayala de Roxas who orderes the retiling of the church at her expense: the new tiles cost P2401.30. Total cost of renovationg the church came to P36 108, with the main bulk of expenses contributed by Doña Carmen de Roxas and her son. The rest of the sum was covered by the devotees of St. Michael and the donations of the parishioners. Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano donated a reed organ worth P180. The remodeled church was inaugurated on September 28 1913 and the fiesta of San Miguel was celebrated the very next day.
In 1917, the arrabal of San Miguel was created a district of the City of Manila, which had been divided into 14 districts. The limits of the district were proclaimed as being: Azcarraga (CM Recto) to Alix (Legarda), then Alix to Nagtahan, then the Pasig River to the Isla de Convalescencia, then the Isla to the Estero de San Miguel (where began Calle Echague, now Palanca), then Calle Mendiola to the point of beginning on Alix. Fr. Arceo had been made a Monsignor when he relinquished the parish of San Miguel to Father Vicente Reyes, who would later be elevated to the rank of Bishop.
From the 1920s on, San Miguel was one of three elegant Manila Churches much favored for society weddings (the other two were Lourdes Church in Intramuros and San Vicente de Paul on San Marcelino). Several generations of brides marched to an altar that is now only a memory. The San Miguel High Altar that endured some seven decades until the recent innovation was a retablo with four niches. In the top niche was the Archangel. In the central niche was Our Lady of Lourdes and to left and right were St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony de Padua.
The Inauguration of the Republic in 1946 and the start of Roxas presidency was matched at the parish of San Miguel with honors quite as lustrous. The parish church was designated by Archbishop Michael O’Doherty to serve as the Pro-cathedral of manila after the new cathedral could be built in ruined Intramuros. In keeping with parish new dignity, its parroco, Fr. Vicente Reyes, was raised into episcopate. San Miguel thus had the distinction of being pastored by an auxiliary bishop of Manila.
When Archbishop Rufino Santos was made a Cardinal in 1960, San Miguel became doubly regal, for, besides being the parish of the palace, it was now also seat of the Prince of the Church. Archbishop Michael O’Doherty last foreign archbishop of Manila, and Cardinal Santos, the first Filipino Archbishop of Manila, were both buried in San Miguel Church when it was still the pro-Cathedral of the Archdiocese. In 1954, the old rectory was replaced with a grander edifice to house of the offices of both the parish and the Archdiocese.
San Miguel was pro-Cathedral and Arzobispado until the inauguration of the new cathedral in Intranuros on December 8 1958 and the building of the new Archdiocesan Headquarters in Calle Arzobispo in the Walled City in 1987.
At the helm of the parish during the later 1950s was Msgr. Hernando Antiporda, auxiliary bishop and vicar general of Manila, who gave the church a new blue-and-cream ceiling and a terrazzo, or marmolized, flooring; installed a new set of Stations of the Cross, hand-carved in Paete; transformed the old dark sacristy into a modern hall with built-in cabinets; and commemorated the Lourdes centennial with the inauguration of the Lourdes grotto at the esat end of the patio.
Of the Malacanang tenants, the parish most fondly remembers President and Mrs. Carlos P Garcia, who were active as parishioners and generous as donors during their incumbency. The Lourdes grotto was one of their donations. Even after leaving Malacanang, the gracious Inday Garcia could be counted on to attend parish happenings in San Miguel. The Garcia era was to made arcadian to those recalling it in the 1970s, when, because of the Marcoses in Malacanang, San Miguel found itself embattled ground.
This was, of course, before Martial Law, when Mendiola Bridge and JP Laurel were still open. After Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, almost San Miguel became a No-Man’s land taboo to traffic; and checkpoints block anyone for his devotion to St. Jude or to St. Michael to attend religious rites at San Miguel Pro-Cathedral. Now the elite were no longer baptized or married in the parish.
When he became the parroco of San Miguel, Msgr. Josefino Ramirez was faced with an alarming problem: poor attendance at services. So he resolved: “If the people won’t come to church, then the Church must go to the people.” And forthwith he made good his word with the institution of street masses. At sidewalk altars in the decayed parts of the parish, mass was said with the people congregated on the street or watching from windows and doorways. The holy sacrifice thus became a public experience, part of the environment and of the daily grind of life.
So he went on involving in his mind the ideas of his new enterprise. The San Miguel he envisioned was a National Shrine dedicated to St. Michael and all the Archangels, where weekly a perpetual novena would be celebrated on Mondays in honor of his patron and his glorious Company.
For this, the church would have be renovated. A new high altar would have to be installed, to contain the images of the seven archangels. The fund campaign for the shrine coincided with the dying days of the dictatorship.
Some 383 years old was the parish of San Miguel when its church in the north bank was consecrated as the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels on February 22 1986, the first day of EDSA revolution. Co-celebrants of the consecration were His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani, the Papal Nuncio, Msgr. Ramirez, and Msgr. Moises Andrade, who emceed the rites. At places of honor in front of the altar were three benefactors and sponsors: Antonio Ozaeta, Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco and Antonio Cabangon Chua.
Parish Priests of National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels:
- No records (1603-1642)
- Juan de Salazar (1642-1645)
- Diego Sanabria (1646-1647)
- Francisco de Roa (1647-1648, 1651-1653, 1657-1658)
- Thomas Andrade (1648-1649, 1678-1679, 1681-1682)
- Luis Pimentel (1650-1651, 1670-1671, 1675-1676, 1677-1678)
- Rafael de Bonafee (1653-1655)
- Magino Sola (1655-1656)
- Andres de Ledesma (1659-1660,1679-1680)
- Antonio Sana (1660-1662)
- Juan Esguerra (1662-1667)
- Miguel Solana (1667-1669)
- Juan Andres Palauiano (1669-1670)
- Ignarcio Alcina (1671-1673)
- Carlos Furcoti (1673-1674)
- Geronimo de Ortega (1674-1675)
- Pedro Lope (1676-1677)
- Antonio Fuccio (1680-1681)
- Nicolas Cani (1682-1683)
- Juan de Sarzuela (1683-1684)
- Antonio Xaramillo (1684-1686)
- Juan Melendez (1686-1687)
- Juan de Ynigoyen (1687-1688)
- Antonio de Borja (1688-1689, 1697-1698, 1703-1707)
- Franco de Borja (1689-1690)
- Diego de Ayala (1690-1691)
- Thomas Vallejo (1691-1693)
- Diego de Ona (1693-1694)
- Pedro Salazar (1694-1695)
- Antonio Ferriz (1695-1696)
- Franco Calderon (1696-1697,1698-1700)
- Augustine Fabregas (1700-1702)
- Joseph Xavier de Texada (1702-1703)
- Franco Diez (1707-1708)
- Agustin Soler (1708-1709)
- Andres Serrano (1709-1710)
- Antonio Lozano (1711-1713, 1750-1753)
- Lorenzo de Avina (1713-1714)
- Pedro de Hera (1714-1715)
- Joseph de Velasco (1715-1719)
- Salvador Tuberi (1719-1720)
- Fernando de Haro (1721-1731)
- No records (1732-1740)
- Felipe Bernardo Messia (1740-1750)
- Juan Monet (1753-1755)
- Thomas de Ron (1755-1758, 1761-1762, 1764-1766)
- Eugene Carrion (1758-1759)
- Francisco Burchet (1759-1760)
- Andres Rodriguez (1760-1761)
- Juan Bautista Castella (1762-1764)
- Miguel Aranaz (1766-1767)
- Antonio Miguel Garcia (1767-1768)
- Francisco Xavier de Victoria (1768-1776)
- Luis Casimiro (1776-1777)
- No records (1778-1797)
- Pedro Malo de Molina (1797-1801)
- Bartolome Galan (1801)
- Jose Aparicio (1801-1804)
- Antonio Dias (1804-1805)
- Bernardo Barroso de Villanueva (1805-1808)
- Facundo Marino (1808-1810)
- Gervacio delos santos (1810-1811)
- Bernardo de Natividad (1811-1812)
- Ygnarcio Christino (1812-1824)
- Juan Cosme (1824-1825)
- Domingo Dayrit (1825-1826)
- Lorenzo Manuel Dimaguila (1826)
- Leoncio Zita (1826)
- Lazaro Salustiano (1826-1827)
- Joaquin Umali (1827-1830)
- Tibursio Senson (1830-1833)
- Vicente Tongco (1833-1835)
- Santiago del Rosario (1835)
- Esteban Mena (1835-1838)
- Vicente Soler (1838-1840)
- Andres Alonzo (1840-1846)
- Torquato Tudela (1846)
- Antonio Picarro (1846-1849)
- Felix Hernandez (1849)
- Francisco de Padre Gonzales (1849-1852)
- Felix Fernandez (1852)
- Jose Cuesta (1852-1853)
- Francisco Febres (1853-1854)
- Domingo Asorin (1854-1858)
- Antonio de Llerenaz (1858-1859)
- Carlos Tena (1859-1864)
- Jose Ma. Del Val (1864-1865)
- Valentine Cuenca (1865)
- Jose Martinez (1865-1867)
- Eugenio Garcia (1867-1871)
- Juan Fererras (1871-1872)
- Santiago Bravo (1872-1876)
- Facundo Gonzales (1876-1879)
- Mariano Morondo (1879-1880)
- Nicolas Dias Sta. Romana (1880)
- Mariano Hoyos (1880-1884)
- Emilio Gago (1884-1898)
- Juan Asilo (1898-1899)
- Jose Changco (1899-1900)
- Hipolito Arceo (1900-1939)
- Paulino Garcia (1939)
- Vicente Reyes (1939-1950)
- Pedro Bantigue (1950)
- Jesus Tizon (1950-1951)
- Leopoldo Arcaira (1951-1954)
- Hernando Antiporda (1954-1969)
- Benjamin Marino (1969-1983)
- Josefino Ramirez (1983-1989)
- Marcelino Montemayor (1989-2000)
- Augusto Laban (2000-2004)
- Ernesto Cruz (2004-2007)
- Severino Anatalio (2007-2014)
- Genaro O. Diwa (2015-Present)