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Negros Oriental

San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

Designated as a town in 1850, Zamboanguita was initially under the spiritual administration of Dauin until it was established as a parish by the Recollects dedicated to St. Isidore the Farmer some 15 years later.

The first Recollect missionary assigned to Zamboanguita when it became a parish on May 21, 1866 was Fr. Faustino Sanchez. He arrived in the town in December of that same year and was parish priest until September 1867.

There was already an existing church when Fr. Patricio Adell took over but it was in such poor condition it had to be demolished. A temporary replacement was put up to serve as venue for Mass and the other sacraments.

River stones

This current church of Zamboanguita was completed in 1950 by Fr. Gregorio Samanes, who also built the convent, according to the book “Handurawan: Visita Iglesia Negros Y Recoletos” published by Tolle et Lege. Described as “semi-gothic” with a tall central belfry, it was said to be constructed out of stones gathered by parishioners from the Bangculotan River about a kilometer away.

Its beginnings can be traced to about a century before, to the time of Fr. Tomas Gonzales who sourced materials for the church and convent but died in 1871 before he could begin construction. The job fell to Fr. Laureano Navarro, Gonzales’s successor, who began work on the church funnel and laid down the foundation of the transepts.

The structure began to slowly take shape through the years. Fr. Lorenzo Cordon (1887 to 1890) continued work on the transepts and arcs of the windows while Fr. Alejandro Oses replaced the roof with galvanized iron in 1923. It suffered damages in the bombings conducted by liberation forces at the conclusion of the Second World War and went through repairs until it was finally completed in 1950.

Church seal

Parochial administration of Zamboanguita was turned over to the secular clergy in 1982, but a seal of the Order of Augustinian Recollects inscribed on the church floor bears witness to their presence in the parish.

The late Fr. Cirilo Durana, who was parish priest up to 1975, was the last Recollect parish priest of Zamboanguita.

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