Located between Caloocan and Quezon City, the Parokya ng Banal na Sakramento (Parish of the Blessed Sacrament) serves the religious needs of the communities of Barangay Talipapa of Novaliches, Quezon City and Barangay 163 of Caloocan. The Banal na Sakramento Parish falls under the Vicariate of San Bartolome, and was established by the priests of the nearby Our Lady of the Angels Seminary, in 1981.
Growing from a simple chapel amidst the hodge podge tents of the temporary market (talipapa), the present structure of the Banal na Sakramento Parish was completed in 1986, in a simple modernist design that reflected the modest homes and establishments that surrounded the church.
Despite its simplicity, the Banal na Sakramento Parish is still an architectural beauty, with its hexagonal shape, and its trusses rising from the sides and connecting at the central spire. Its altar lacks the typical Baroque embellishment of other churches, yet it is just as stunning with its triangular walls accented with stained glass windows (from left to right) of the Immaculate Conception, the Death of Christ at the Cross, the Corpus Christi, and Saint Joseph.
Yet what is really interesting about the Banal na Sakramento Parish is its collection of paintings by Antonio Ko, featuring the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross. The Via Crusis are 14 scenes of the condemnation, suffering and death of Jesus Christ; however, Antonio Ko’s version features 15 stations that ends with the Resurrection of Jesus. Given that the paintings were all completed in 1986, to coincide with the blessing of the new church, the use of the Resurrection in Via Crucis was never or hardly used until the 1990s, with the introduction of the Via Lucis or Stations of Resurrection.
Antonio del Monte Ko Jr. (Antonio Kua, 1956-1999) was a genre painter, whose painting style was more akin to impressionism. Born and raised in the Mabini area of Manila, Ko was exposed to the many artists in the area, who would eat at his father’s grocery-restaurant, on Padre Faura street. The family’s art collections grew, as some artists traded paintings for a hot meal, and Ko’s mother transformed part of the restaurant into an art gallery. Soon the very young Ko was creating abstract paintings that were being purchased by customers, and this inspired him to take formal lessons at University of Santos Tomas (UST). After graduating from UST, Ko was participating in several art competitions, where he won the 1st and 3rd Prize Watercolor Category of the Philippine Orchid Society art competition of 1979, the Gold Medal in the Philippine Investment & Systems Organization painting competition of 1980, and the Grand Prize Winner of the Automobile Association Philippines art competition of 1980. Ko’s awards wre noticd by his alma mater, and in 1981, the UST honored him the UST Benavidez Award. Ko continued to participate in local and international exhibitions, while teaching at the Philippine Women’s University and National Museum. By the 1990s, Ko was commissioned to create the murals for the Cathedral-Parish and Diocesan Shrine of the Good Shepherd, in Novaliches, Quezon City; and the Equitable Bank. These were to be his last major pieces, before his death in 1999.
Aside from Antonio Ko’s Via Crucis, there is another painting in the Banal na Sakramento Parish’s confessional booth. Featuring the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the painting was made by an unidentified artist, who signed the works as “Amor”.
With the hubbub of the traffic and hawking market vendors, the Banal na Sakramento Parish’s campanile (bell tower) stands as a silent witness to the change and growth that the church as contributed to the community. Aside from the basic sacraments of baptism, the Eucharist (communion), confirmation, reconciliation (confession), marriage, and annointing of the sick, dying and dead; the parish has extended its services to evangelization through education.
While the Banal na Sakramento Parish was being constructed, the local Catholic Women’s League worked with the parish priest to organize a school for the community, and in 1987 the Blessed Sacrament Learning Center opened for the children of Barangay Talipapa. In the ensuing years, the small daycare continued grew to become the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School.
Despite the chaos outside, the noise of the city dies down when entering the Banal na Sakramento Parish. At any time of the day, visitors can sit at the pew and silently contemplate, or go to the right aisle to pray at the Hall of Saints. Others would go to the left aisle, where parish office and confessionals are, to chat with the very engaging staff. Whatever the purpose, the Banal na Sakramento Parish is a haven of peace and modern art for the faithful of Novaliches.