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Century-old Hinigaran Parish Church

Century-old Hinigaran Parish Church

One of the most imposing and beautiful structures in Hinigaran is the St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church. Established in 1848, the church is considered as one of the oldest churches in the country and is one of the lasting legacies of the early missionaries and residents of this historic town.

It was in early 1800s when Spanish missionaries came to Hinigaran to evangelize and serve the spiritual needs of the residents here. Then, in 1848, Reverend Father Jose Maria Pavon an Augustinian Priest from Spain, was commissioned to set up the parish of Hinigaran. Back then, there was no physical structure where priests can celebrate the Holy Mass and so, on November 4, 1848, Fr. Pavon built a temporary church made of “nipa,” a palm tree with creeping roots, characteristic of mangrove swamps in India and the Pacific islands, which abundantly grows in various swampy areas in Hinigaran. Several years later, under the joint efforts of Parish Priests Fr. Jose Ma. Martinez in 1854, and Fr. Francisco Ayarra in 1868 and the residents of Hinigaran, a more permanent structure was built.

The architectural concept of the church was based upon the designs of European churches which is very much common during that era. As the usual engineering practice during that time, the façade and walls of the church were made from a composition of stones, corals and bricks, some of which came from the nearby island of Guimaras. The pillars used came from nearby places like Paticui and as far as the island of Palawan, which were then transported to a place known today as Quincihan derived from the wages of the laborers of fifteen centavos every fifteen days.

As for the workforce that will actually build the church, the residents of the town were required to render the equivalent of fifteen days free labor every month, and among their daily tasks was to bring twenty-five eggs a day which were mixed with lime, coral and bricks that will form the foundation and walls of the church.

When it was finished, the desire of the parish priests of having a semi-baroque, yet simplified architectural style, was achieved. An antique image of St. Mary Magdalene, which was brought from Spain by early missionaries, was placed at the top of the main doorway where it still stands and can be viewed to this time.

The last Recollect parish priest assigned in Hinigaran was Fr. Melchor Ardanaz in June 1897 until December 1898. When the Revolution broke out in 1898, the Recollects left Hinigaran and never returned.

The secular clergy took over the administration in 1898 and later the Mill Hill fathers from 1907 until 1914. From then on, the parish was administered by secular clergy of the Diocese of Bacolod.

Today, the beautiful structure of the St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church, as well as the antique religious statues and items within it, are considered as cultural treasures not only of Hinigaran but also the entire province of Negros Occidental. It is regarded as a prestigious heritage of the 18th century during the time of Spanish colonial churches during that era.

This is one of the Spanish colonial churches in Negros considered as a cultural treasure of the prestigious heritage of the 18th century during the Spanish Era.

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Jeraldine Layson is the website administrator of the Official website of the municipality of Hinigaran.

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