Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church, Valencia

Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church, Valencia, Negros Oriental

The town was originally known as Ermita―a Spanish word which means “a place of retreat.” The Recollect priest Fr. Antonio Ubeda changed the name of the town into Nueva Valencia which incidentally was his hometown in Spain. The name was changed again to Luzuriaga on April 18, 1905 by virtue of the Republic Act 1330 in honor of the late Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga, a member of the Philippine Commission during the American regime. Finally, the town was named Valencia on June 14, 1948 by virtue of Republic Act 252.

The town of Valencia started to evolve in 1812 with the unification of several settlements from the lowland near the seashore of Dumaguete. It became an independent town on May 19, 1852 with Fr. Antonio Ubeda, parish priest of Dumaguete, as the first Recollect missionary to take care of the spiritual needs of the residents. It was separated from Dumaguete and erected as a parish on March 31, 1854. Father Tomas Mezquita was the first Recollect parish priest but assumed only the administration of the parish in May 1855. For one year, he took charged of the parish and constructed a big church made of light materials and a school. Father Matias Villamayor succeeded him in 1856. 

Famous among the Recollect priests assigned in Valencia was Fr. Eladio Logroño, a parish priest from 1868 until 1889. He constructed a convent made of solid materials collected by previous priests assigned in the parish. He started the construction of the new wooden church after the old one collapsed in 1885. With the help of Fr. Leandro Arrue, he also initiated the opening of the road and bridge that connected Valencia and Bacong. He provided the town with good water system that channeled the springs of barrio Maiti to the town plaza. Lastly, he built a building which later served as a parochial school in 1970s.

The parochial administration of the Recollects in Valencia was shortly interrupted when they were forced to abandon their ministry at the height of Revolution in 1898. For sometime it was left to the care of the secular priests from Dumaguete. They resumed their administration of the parish in 1904 with Fr. Paulino Jimenez as the first Recollect to arrive in the town. The leaders of the Revolution burned the old church and convent. Through the generous support of the people, Fr. Jimenez was able to put up a beautiful concrete church and a stronger convent for the priests. 

The longest serving Recollect parish priest of Valencia was Father Pedro Ko who served for 31 years (1960-1991). Among others, he was responsible for the construction of the actual concrete church and convent between 1960 to 1961. He also established two Recollect schools―San Pedro Academy in the town and San Pedro Academy-Recoletos in Caidiocan. The gymnasium of SPA-Valencia was also built during his term. The appointment of Fr. Rafael Cabarles as parish priest in 1994-1996 improved the educational system and physical facilities of the two schools. When his term expired, Fr. Cabarles took charged the Chaplaincy of St. Ezekiel Moreno in the hinterland of Caidiocan. Father Cirilo Andan succeeded Fr. Cabarles as parish priest of Valencia in 1996 until 2000. He renovated the main altar of Our Lady of the Abandoned Church.
The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned is the only parish church left to the spiritual administration of the Augustinian Recollects in Negros Oriental. 

Source: Dennis Madrigal (ed.) Handurawan Visita Iglesia Negros y Recoletos(2006), p. 66

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