The Laoag Clergy


Visit St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Marcos, Ilocos Norte.

The CHRONOS: Monthly Diocesan Schedule for FEBRUARY 2009

July 26: Laoag's foundation anniversary and St. Anne Parish fiesta

Today, the Diocese of Laoag celebrates her 48th birthday. Today, too, is the launching of activities in commemoration of the diocese's golden anniversary in 2011.

Let us pray for our diocese. Let us pray for the increase of faith and the deepening of love and commitment to God and the Church.

Happy fiesta to the Piddiguenos!

Click here to read CBCP news on the launching.

July 25: Fiesta greetings!

Today is the feast of St. James the Greater.

Happy fiesta to our brothers and sisters in Solsona and Pasuquin!

Cadaratan Church: A Miracle in Progress

Cadaratan Church: A Miracle in Progress

The Dream Church of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Cadaratan, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

The Dream Church of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Cadaratan, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Foundation for the church-construction project in Cadaratan, Bacarra put up!

The construction of the OUR LADY OF FATIMA PARISH CHURCH started anew, September 8, the birthday of Mama Mary. Very crucial in this project is the financial consideration being tacked by the whole parish community. To address this concern, we, the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, together with our newly-appointed parish priest, Rev. Leonardo L. Ruiz, planned to put up a FOUNDATION for the continuation and completion of the construction of the parish church.

The Foundation is chaired by our beloved Bishop, Most Rev. Sergio L. Utleg, D.D. and the members of the Board include Victor R. Bolosan, M.D., Rosalina R. Javier, Flordelina T. Cadelina, Eugenia M. Mendoza, Emilia B. Agonoy and Dante Subia, all from Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

Registration of the Foundation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is under way.

Architects and Engineer: Arch. Coleen Cajigal and Arch. Joemar Bolosan, Engr. Eduardo Cid.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED. For those who wish to send their donations directly through the bank, this is our bank: PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, Batac Branch, Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. DOLLAR ACCOUNT NUMBER: 158881300038; Account Name, Most Rev. Sergio L. Utleg, D.D., Victor R. Bolosan, M.D. and Flordelina T. Cadelina. PESO CHECKING ACCOUNT: 158881300020, with the same above-mentioned account name.

The Happy Priests

The Happy Priests
The clergy during their annual retreat with Bp. Mylo Vergara of the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija as retreat master at Betania Retreat House in Baguio City, November 10-13




For financial assistance or donations in-kind, please contact the Bishop or the Curia at (077)770-5210, or Fr. Lorenzo Torreflores (Baresbes, Dingras) at 0917-5701085, Fr. Danny Devaras (Carasi) at 0920-5537806, Fr. Lester Menor (Davila, Pasuquin) at 0915-7879701, Fr. Leo Ruiz (Cadaratan, Bacarra) at (077)670-3801, and Fr. Anthony Dimagiba (Sta. Rosa, Sarrat) at (077)782-2031, Fr. Antonio Calautit, SVD (Pancian, Pagudpud) at 0918-5228902.

Listen to DZEA-CMN Radio Totoo, 909 khz!

Pray for your priests. They need your prayers as much as you need theirs.

Pray for your priests. They need your prayers as much as you need theirs.
The clergy of Laoag with the lone cardinal of Thailand and the bishop of Changmai

A Short History of the Diocese of Laoag

Long before the coming of the Spaniards, there already existed an extensive region (consisting of the present provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union) renowned for its gold mines. Merchants from Japan and China would often visit the area to barter beads, ceramics and silk with gold. The inhabitants of the region believed to be of Malay origin, called their place Samtoy from saomi ditoy, which literally meant “language spoken in this place”.

Like other parts of the Philippines, Ilocos Norte before the advent of Spanish colonization was inhabited by different tribes. Settlements were located along the river systems. Most people preferred to settle down near their farming or hunting grounds. Trade between seashore communities and nearby China must have been present considering the proximity of the place with mainland Cathay. Religion was mainly animistic with the belief in Supreme Being like “Kabunian” and other minor spirits which were collectively known as di-kataotao-an.

Colonization of IIocos Norte and Christianization. Christianity came to this part of the country in June 1572 during Northern Luzon “pacification” campaign led by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo and his Augustinian chaplain Alonzo de Alvarado. It is said that the cross was first planted on top of what is now known as Ermita Hill in Laoag. However, it was not until 1575 when Vigan was finally “pacified” by the Castillians that effective evangelization campaign reached this part of the newly established Province of Ilocos. During this last quarter of the 16th century, mission centers were established in Laoag, Bacarra, San Nicolas, Batac and Dingras. Towards the end of Spanish rule in the Philippines, there were 13 towns.

The evangelization of this northern part of Ilocos province was done by the Augustinian friars. They did their apostolate here until the end of Spanish rule in 1898.

Like the other parts of the country, which were pacified and claimed for the Castillian standard, the Ilocos was soon divided into encomiendas, which were awarded to deserving colonizers. The encomienda was more of a grant of jurisdiction than ownership. The encomendero was granted jurisdiction over a land of its people. He had the rights to exact tributes from the people and was privileged to get services from them. However, he had the duty to protect them and to give them religious instruction. But very soon the encomienda system lost its luster in favor of the more lucrative China trade with the galleon system plying from Manila to Acapulco and vice-versa. Towards the end of the Spanish Regime, of the 460,000 hectares comprising the land area of Ilocos Norte, 33,500 were planted with tobacco, palay, sugar cane, indigo, corn and vegetables and worked by 35,000 farmers out of a population of 160,000.

Creation of the Province of Ilocos Norte. Ilocos Norte was so remote from the central government in Manila during the Spanish Regime. It was rural and rustic. Owing to the abusive practices of many Augustinian friars, a number of Ilocanos revolted against their colonizers. A number of uprisings erupted. Noteworthy of these were the Dingras uprising (1589) and Pedro Almazan revolt (San Nicolas, 1660). One in Bacarra led by a certain Juan Magsanop was triggered by a series of revolts in the south in the 17th century. The Augustinian parish priest of the town Juan de Arias was killed by the rebels. In the first quarter of the 19th century three rebellions in a row erupted in a period of fifteen years, which prompted the colonial government to divide the Ilocos province in 1818. One of these revolts in Piddig town was caused by the government’s attempt to put a monopoly on the production of basi, a locally produced wine fermented from sugarcane juice.

The Diocese of Laoag shares the early history of its mother see, the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. As mentioned above, Christianity came to this northernmost frontier of the far-flung Spanish colony in 1572 as a part of the “pacification campaign” by the Spaniards led by the youthful and swashbuckling conquistador Juan de Salcedo. The cross and the sword came thus planting the standards of Christianity and the monarchy of Spain on this part of the world. The northern part of the old Ilocos Province came to be known as Ilocos Norte since 1818. The division was exacerbated by three revolts (1807, 1811 and 1815).

The Rise and Decline of Aglipayanism. Three quarters of a century later this rebellion was experienced in the religious sphere. The Philippine Religious Revolution at the turn of the 20th century that gave rise to the Philippine Independent Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente [IFI]) made Ilocos Norte as the epicenter. Only one of the seventeen Filipino priests then assigned to the province remained steadfast to the Catholic faith. This was mainly because the former guerilla padre Gregorio Aglipay, now the religious leader of the new schismatic movement was from Batac and both his lieutenants, Simeon Mandac and Santiago Fonacier were from Laoag. The “Independientes”, (to distinguish them from the “Romanos”) as they were subsequently called, brought with them about 95% of the total population of Ilocos Norte.

It was a slow and painful recovery for the “Romanos” in this part of the Philippines. The years following 1902, the foundation year of the IFI, were difficult. All church properties except the Laoag Cathedral were taken over by the schismatics. However, the Philippine Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 1905 (Barlin vs. Ramirez) ordering the return of properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, which were taken over by the Independientes, saved the day for the Romanos. Priests were soon assigned to the parishes of Ilocos Norte, many to their hometowns to bring back to the fold their relatives and their tenants. Hence, we have the likes of Luis Cortez of Badoc, Clemente Edralin of Sarrat who was later murdered in his convento of mysterious causes, and Atanacio Albano of Bacarra.

The Canonical Erection of the Diocese of Laoag. The Civil Province of Ilocos Norte became the Diocese of Laoag in 1961. The first bishop was the former chancellor of the mother see of Nueva Segovia, Antonio Ll. Mabutas of Agoo, La Union. The next decade saw the building up of the new diocese. Infrastructure had to be built and the people spiritually prepared and clergy had to be united.

The St. Mary’s Seminary opened its doors to the first batch of seminarians in 1963, although the construction was still going on. The bishop’s residence soon stood up along Gomez Street in the then outskirts of Laoag City. The Catholic Center Building near the cathedral replaced the old Knights of Columbus building. Catholic Schools were opened (St. Anne in Piddig, St. James in Pasuquin, St. Lawrence in Bangui and St. Jude in Pagudpud) to add to those already existing at the time of the separation.

Lay formation centered on the Cursillos de Cristianidad. This was a weekend lived-in retreat. Then came a new trend in catechesis, the Christian Community Program. This was a different approach from the Baltimore-type of traditional catechism. The Diocese of Laoag was one of the experimental centers for the whole Philippines.

A good number of priests from La Union (6) and Ilocos Sur (6) were “trapped” in the Diocese of Laoag as a result of the separation. Unity and spiritualization among the clergy had to be worked out. The monthly recollection and meeting had to be consistently held. Priests from every nook and cranny of the diocese were urged to go to Laoag every month for this event. These were the times when coming to the center was still a feat considering the dust and bumpy roads to the interior parishes in the eastern and northern vicariates.

The Episcopacy of Bishop Rafael Lim. When the 1970s came, storm clouds were looming in the horizon for the Diocese of Laoag. In 1970, Bishop Mabutas was elected coadjutor Archbishop of Davao. Archbishop Juan Sison of Nueva Segovia was apostolic administrator during the months of vacancy. The following year Bishop Rafael of Marinduque came to Laoag. This was a difficult decade everywhere: the first and second quarters saw the storm of activism, the “hippie” generation, martial law and dictatorship, the changes brought about by Vatican II were now being felt.

It was Bishop Lim who brought about the first reshuffle of priests' assignments in the diocese, thus moving the well-entrenched “immovables”. The general reshuffle in 1973 also tried to standardize the finances of the parishes with priests theoretically receiving equal remunerations. A system of parish financial reporting was established with transparency as the end in view. This did not progress in the ensuing years, and it was eventually dropped to give away to the quota system, that is, each parish was assessed and the amount to be submitted to the curia was fixed.

The Diocese experienced the exodus of priests in this decade. Many priests either left the diocese or left the active ministry. By 1978 five parishes were already without priests. In the middle of this year, Bishop Lim became the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Boac, Marinduque, his home province. The Rev. Jose F. Agustin served as diocesan administrator.

Abaya: The shepherd for 20 years. By early 1979, the diocese had its third bishop in the person of Edmundo M. Abaya of Candon, Ilocos Sur. The next two decades saw the diocese on the rise. New Orders of Sisters came mainly to do pastoral work. At its highest number, there were 17 religious orders of sisters working in the diocese. The priestly identity crisis brought about by the shift of things by Vatican II was on the wane. More vocations, hence more ordinations, were coming up. The catechetical program of the diocese was beefed up with a more centralized management. However, the once thriving Catholic schools in the diocese were on the run because of many factors.

The strong earthquake of 1983 wrought havoc and destruction to the centuries-old churches of the diocese. Two years later all the destroyed churches and rectories were rebuilt or restored.

The diocese of Laoag celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its foundation in 1986 with much fanfare. Archbishop Antonio Mabutas of Davao, the first ordinary, presided over the opening Eucharist. The San Lorenzo Medical and Dental Charity Clinic was also inaugurated to serve the indigents who need medical and dental treatment. About the same year, the Foyer de Charite in the compound of the St. Mary’s Seminary was slowly rising to serve as a retreat house for the diocese.
In 1994, Bishop Abaya convoked the First Diocese of Laoag Pastoral Assembly. This was in response to the renewal of the Philippines called for by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991. This was a week-long gathering of clergy, religious and lay faithful of the diocese to pray, to reflect on the pastoral situation and to offer solutions and remedies. It was geared towards creating a community of disciples in the Diocese of Laoag. The Vision-Mission Statement with the Acts and Decrees of the Pastoral Assembly reflects the pastoral situation of the diocese and the kind of response to be addressed to such.

Bishop Abaya’s episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Laoag came to an end when he was installed as the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia on September 8, 1999. The diocese was again without a pastor. The months of interregnum were under the leadership of the Rev. Rodolfo R. Nicolas, who served as administrator for 16 months.

Fourth Bishop: Another Ilocano from the southern Ilocos province. On January 30, 2001 Bishop Ernesto A. Salgado became the fourth Bishop of Laoag. A native of Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, he was originally a priest of Nueva Segovia. When he took possession of the See of Laoag he was already a veteran in the mountain missions of the Cordilleras having served as Apostolic Vicar of the Mountain Provinces for 14 years.

Bishop Salgado steered the 40th anniversary celebration of the diocese of Laoag with the Church as Mystery of Communion as its theme. The celebration was held on July 28, 2001, a Saturday, to allow more faithful in the celebration. The biblical exegete Fr. Gerardo Tapiador was the main speaker.

There are three things the Bishop Salgado wanted to do in his Episcopal ministry in the diocese of Laoag. First is the security of priests to make them veritable servant-leaders of this particular church. Priestly solidarity and fraternity was the second, to create a community of servant-leaders reminiscent of the primitive Christian community in Jerusalem. And the third was the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) to create a community of disciples.

Indeed, this was a gargantuan task. But the life of the priests and the faithful is what makes the Church. Qualis sacerdos, talis grex, so the old Latin Maxim goes. A dedicated and unified presbyterium would be the first witnessing of the priests towards BEC. Basic Ecclesial Communities could only endure for as long as if they were served by dedicated and selfless priests. (Fr. Ian Rabago)

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