HomeManilavol. 3 no. 1 (2007)

The Secular Clergy and the Building of Churches in 19th Century Manila

Regalado Trota Jose

Discipline: History



It has been the prevailing idea that most, if not all churches in Spanish colonial Philippines, were built by the friars. However, a listing of parish priests from the Guias de Forasteros, printed intermittently from 1834 to 1898 in Manila, clarifies that certain places were administered by the secular clergy for long periods of time. This proves that the churches constructed during these times were built under the leadership of the seculars. Indirect evidence is from the friar chronicles themselves, which do not include these areas under their mission territories. Further light is shed by local histories; some of the secular priests themselves placed their names on the facades of their constructions.


Piercing together the data on hand, we can identify certain churches built in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Abra, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Aklan and Iloilo as built by the secular clergy—who by this time were mostly Filipinos. This paper will focus on the churches and parishes in the greater Manila area administered by secular clergy in the 19th century.