Amlan was one of four existing parishes when the ecclesiastical administration of Negros Island was turned over to the Augustinian Recollects on June 30, 1848.
At that time, it didn’t amount to much, according to parish writings quoting Fr. Licinio Ruiz, who described it as a “miserable fishing hamlet consisting of 13 houses and a few Christians scattered on its outskirts.” Ruiz, appointed Recollect chronicler in 1922, added that Amblan, as the Spanish friars called it, was established into a parish separate from Tanjay in 1848.
Its name could have been derived from alman after a rare variety of guavas plentiful during Spanish colonial times or amblan and amblang for old coconuts, according to the book “Handurawan: Visita Iglesia Negros Y Recoletos.”
First Recollect missionary
When Fr. Ramon Cabas arrived in the town on August 24, 1848, he noted the absence of a church, convent, and school. Cabas was the first Recollect missionary to arrive in Amlan.
His successor, Fray Manuel Vilches de la Concepcion, came to Amlan and served as parish priest from 1857-1884. Throughout his years of service, the town reflected a steady growth in population and number of Christian converts. It was in the parish of Amlan under the patronage of St. Andrew, the Apostle that Vilches died from a heart inflammation.
The coral stone church that still stands today came about as a result of the hard work of the different Recollect priests who served Amlan throughout the years. Handurawan however points to Fr. Vilches as the priest who put everything into motion. He was behind the design of the facade made entirely of bricks accentuated by small blocks of hewn stone.
On the church facade can be seen the markings 1880, FMV Fecit (Fray Manuel Vilches, the church builder in 1880) and Latin markings that translate to “Come, Pray, My Children, You will see how good is the Lord.” He was also responsible for establishing a missionary outpost for visiting priests in Ayuquitan that later became the town of San Jose.
Work on the transepts of the Amlan Church was undertaken under Fr. Fidel Moreno and other priests took over improvements and renovations upon his death. Aside from continuing his work, Fr. Hilario Eraso, parish priest from 1891-1898, constructed the casa tribunal and completed embellishing the interior and exterior of the church in 1898.