In the heart of the U.P. Teachers’ Village, Diliman district of Quezon City, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (IHMP) lies hidden among the residences of the old barangay (local community). Located at the corner of Mayumi (gentle or refined) and Mahinhin (polite and discreet) streets, the church was built to service the growing number of residents in the newly established Teacher’s Village. At the start of the 1970s, the National Housing Authority was already awarding residential lots to teachers in Metro Manila area, the Teacher’s Village was formally established in 1975, with the Immaculate heart of Mary Parish opening in the same year. Conceived by the National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin, the design of the building was meant to symbolize the “salakot” (a native Filipino hat), and was created as a monument to the Filipino in the heart of Quezon City.
Leandro Valencia Locsin (1928-1994) is a man of many talents and interests, as evident in his entry to pre-law, then transferring to music and then architecture at the University of Santo Tomas. Early in his career, Locsin was creating theater sets for ballet and musical performances. Throughout his career, Locsin has designed 71 residences, 81 buildings, and 1 state palace; among these are 9 churches and chapels, and 17 government buildings. Best known for his massive, yet very breezy architectural style, Locsin’s most famous works are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theatre, the Philippine International Convention Center, 1976; and the Philippine Plaza Hotel, the National Arts Center at Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna, the terminal of the Manila International Airport, and the Istana Nurul Iman (Palace of Religious Light), the palace of the Sultan of Brunei, which has a total floor area of 200,000 square meters. Locsin has garnered much recognition throughout his career, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Architecture in 1959, the American Institute of Architects Hawaii Chapter’s Pan-Pacific Citation for consistent excellence in design in 1961, the Rizal Centennial Award for Architecture in 1962, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1970, the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award in 1972, and the Gold Medal Award from the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1978, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1980, the United Architects of the Philippines’ Likha Award and Gold Medal, and National Artist in Architecture in 1990.
The IHMP is managed by the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretian Missionaries), which started with the foundation of the Claretian Missionaries: Philippine Province in 1946, and the establishment of the nearby Catholic boys’ school Claret School of Quezon City (CSQC), in 1967. At the front of the IHMP is a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Child Jesus, which stands as monument to the Dignity of the Life of the Unborn Child. The sculpture was erected in 2000, as a part of the Jubilee Year, and the feast of the Santo Niño (Christ Child).
At the interior of the church, the ceiling is laid out in a spiral pattern with beans of concrete emanating from the center; much like the weaving patterns of the salakot. The roof is designed to allow natural light to filter throughout the church, and create the effect of a spotlight on the altar.
At the altar, there is are two wooden sculptures hanging from the rear wall: “The Immaculate Heart of Mary” who is dressed in the traditional Filipina costume, and the “Risen Christ”; which were created in 1977 by the Claretian priest, Fr. Segundo Gutiérrez, who hailed from Zamora, Spain. For these impressive artworks, Fr. Gutiérrez selected narra wood from Peñablanca, in the Cagayan Valley, where he had done missionary work.
Fr. Segundo Gutiérrez y Domínguez (1932-2012) is a Spanish Claretian priest, from Breto de la Ribiera, in the province of Zamora. Fr. Gutiérrez entered the novitiate in 1945, and obtained a degree in Pastoral Theology. He served in the parishes at Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Córdoba, before taking up Fine Arts at Royal Academy of Sciences, Fine Arts and Noble Arts of Córdoba, in 1970. Fr. Gutiérrez would later become a member of that same institution in 2005, and stayed until 2011. F. Gutiérrez’s works have been exhibited in Belgium, France, Italy, the Philippines, Spain, the United States of America, and Venezuela. Fr. Gutiérrez’s would eventually leave the academy in 2011, and retire in Granada.
Also on the altar wall is a small wooden relief also by Fr. Segundo Gutiérrez, depicting the arrival of the Claretian Missionaries (C.M.F. for Cordis Mariae Filii) in the 1900s, whereas the CMF was formally established in the Philippines by the 1860s.The relief acts as the door to the tabernacle.
At the peripheral of the church are wooden reliefs of the “Stations of the Cross”, which were also carved by the National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva. Arch. Locsin chosen to work with Abueva, as he had done before in his first church project, the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice (1955), in the University of the Philippines campus.
Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (born 1930) studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
Aside from the main church proper of the IHMP, there are three small chapels for prayer and other services, such as wakes. These are the Adoration, Resurrection and Ascension chapels.
Since the IHMP has become a popular location for events such as weddings and wakes, the church has opened several multipurpose function rooms, with the Bulwagang Claret as the largest. The smaller function rooms are named after biblical places: Jerusalem, Jordan, Galilee, and Nazareth.
Another area for prayer and contemplation is the Patio Mariana, which is located at the left side of the church exterior. Sometimes the “patio” is used as a waiting shed for the drivers of churchgoers.
Beside the ramp going up to the church entrance, there is a small shrine to Saint Jude Thaddeus, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate and lost causes. Claretian devotion to St. James started in the 1920s, with the congregation of the Our Lady of Guadalupe in Chicago and the latter establishment of the National Shrine of St. Jude, also in Chicago.
At the base of the entrance ramp is a statue of Saint Antonio María Claret y Clarà (1807-1870), founder of the CMF. St. Anthnoy Claret is the patron saint of Textile Merchants, Weavers, Savings, Catholic press, and Technical and Vocational Educators. The sculpture is unsigned and undated, but it looks similar to other religious works of Jose Barcena.
The IHMP is just meters away from the foodie street of Maginhawa Street (Tagalog: ease or comfort), and a step off the Claret School of Quezon City. Both locales are bustling spaces, and prone to traffic any given day. The IHMP offers a quite respite from the city, and ambience of the work of two National Artists.