In Marikina City, there is this one street where many of the heritage sites of the city can be found. Called J.P. Rizal Street, it is named after the Philippine National Hero.
Here, you can find near each other the Kapitan Moy ancestral house and other old buildings from the Spanish and American colonial periods, there is the Marikina Shoe Museum, the Butiki (lizard) and Women’s parks, and the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned.
Founded in 1687 by the Augustinian friars, the first church was consecrated in 1690, and it is the second oldest church in the city. Apparently this move started a bitter rivalry between the Augustinians and the Jesuits, who had settled in Marikina 50 years earlier.
The old church had to survive earthquakes, floods and even the bombings of World War II; which took its toll on the building, and was later restored starting in 1957.
The church is Baroque in design, with many ceiling murals that depict images from the Mysteries of the Rosary. I have yet to identify who was the artist behind these paintings, which were executed within the last 20 years. Apparently, the church office has no records of the artist or date, and the parish priest of that period has been long gone.
On both sides of the church exterior are a series of sculptures of Jesus and the twelve Apostles. Completed around 2012, the parish priest only recalls the first name of the artist, whom he refers to as Sergio. So I assume that this Sergio is a santo/saint maker, most likely from the carvers’ town of Paete who specialize in religious iconography.
On the left side of the church are the following figures:
- Ang Mabuting Pastol / The Good Shepherd
- San Bartolome / Saint Bartholomew
- San Felipe / Saint Philip
- San Juan / Saint John
- San Pedro / Saint Peter
- Santiago Mayor / Saint James son of Zebedee
- Santo Tomas / Saint Thomas
On the right side of the church are the following figures:
- San Andres / Saint Andrew
- San Mateo / Saint Matthew
- San Matias / Saint Matthias
- San Pablo / Saint Paul
- San Simon / Saint Simone
- Santiago Menor / Saint James son of Alphaeus
- Santo Hudas Tadeo / Saint Judas Thaddaeus
At the far end of the church rear courtyard is a statue of Saint Michael conquering Satan, which is another undated statue with the artist unknown.
Near the entrance of the church courtyard is a statue to Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła), which was erected to commemorate his beatification in 2011.
The Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned has always intrigued me, and I nearly got married there. Now that I am no longer a resident of Marikina City, I still find myself visiting this area and walking among the heritage sites.
Although I am not a Christian, I still respect Philippine Catholic traditions and find solace in the peaceful confines of this church.