Deep in the heart of narrow and congested winding roads of Barangay Krus na Ligas, in Quezon City, the Holy Cross Parish Church stands as a silent witness to the historical events that have transpired in the area of the centuries. The community trances it history back to the earliest records of 1705, and it was once (and sometimes) called Gulod / Hilltop, but the name was later changed to Krus na Ligas after a crossed shaped tree (Ligas: Semecarpus Cuneiformis) that grew in the vicinity. After the Ligas tree died, a small Franciscan chapel was erected in its location, around the early 1900s. During the late 1900s, the area was also a hotbed of revolutionary activity, as Andrés Bonifacio (1863-1897) used the site as one of his many covert meeting paces, during the Katipunan Revolution against the Spanish occupation of the Philippines (1896-1898).
Sadly, the chapel was torn down during the early 20th century, and the barangay was left without a permanent place of worship, until the construction of the Holy Cross Parish Church, in 1998. The new church drew its name from the devotion to the True Cross of Jesus and the barangay’s name of Krus na Ligas. The new parish is located in Plaza Santa Inéz, named after Agnes of Rome (291-304 AD), the early Christian martyr and patron of young girls, chastity, rape survivors, and the Children of Mary.
The new church is very much of modernist in design and structure, but also draws design elements from the Baroque churches that were constructed during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines (1565-1898). This is most evident in the highly ornate retablo (altarpiece).
Despite the large population of 21,000 registered residents (and many more transient and undocumented) crammed in the 25 hectares, the Holy Cross Parish Church is quite small to accommodate the whole community, yet somehow it does. Larger events are often held at the Krus na Ligas Elementary School’s cover court.
The Krus na Ligas was once part of the Municipality of Marikina, before being absorbed the Quezon City. And the whole land area is owned by the University of the Philippines (U.P.), Diliman campus. Because of this, some of the transient and permanent residents are artists, who are products of the nearby U.P. College of Fine Arts (CFA). And some of these residents have anonymously contributed their talents to the beautification of Holy Cross Parish Church, such as the mural of “Jesus and Mary enthroned by angels and saints, with Saint Peter and Saint Paul“. This painting is located at the wall above the nave of the church, with the central image inspired by Andrea di Bartolo Cini’s (1360-1428) painting of the “Coronation of the Virgin”.
At the dome of the church is another mural of God the Father and the Holy Spirit, completing the image of the Holy Trinity. This painting also draws inspiration from classical art, such as Willem Herreyns‘ (1743-1827) painting of “God, The Father”.
The last sets of paintings are the 14 Stations of the Cross, rendered by the former parish priest, Fr. Emmanuel “Pong” Del Rosario. Fr. Pong is a expert in religious art, specifically the Gnostic style of painting, which he lectures and gives workshops on. The almost naïve style of imagery is typical of the African Gnostic tradition, and here it represents the 14 stations of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, with the first panel starting with Last Supper, and ending with the Resurrection of Jesus.
Despite its diminutive size and cramped surroundings, the Holy Cross Parish Church is a quite refuge of a bustling community, of Krus na Ligas. And with both the U.P. administration and the Quezon City government recognizing the cultural and historical significance of the church and the neighborhood, the parish and the community will continue to works to nurture the lives of all who come into its halls.