Cubao’s northern Barangay E. Rodriguez Sr. was named after Eulogio ‘Amang’ Adona Rodríguez, Sr. (1883-1964), a renowned politician who had served as the Governor of Rizal (1916), a Congressman of the province of Nueva Viscaya (1924) and the 2nd district of Rizal (1925, 1931, and 1935), the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce (1934), the Mayor of Manila (1940), and a Senator from 1952 to 1963. For the 64,410 hectare barangay of almost 28,000 residents, the only parish to serve the community is the Nativity of the Lord Parish.
The Nativity of our Lord Parish started as a chapel that was serviced by priests from the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish (established 1964), in Barangay Murphy, almost 2 kilometers away. Before this, the early residents would go to mass at the Saint Joseph’s Parish, when it first opened at the government’s post-war relocation Homesite Project 3 in 1952, less than 2 kilometers nearby. Established in 1982, the first church was built in 1983, near corner of KH and Ermin Garcia Street, which was named after the crusading journalist and publisher, Ermin E. Garcia Sr. (1921-1966).
As the population began to grow, there was a demand for a larger church and an official parish. So in 1988, the community started pooling resources to buy a new plot of land, and new church was erected in 1999, further east of Ermin Garcia Street. The church was named after the Nativity of the Lord, to commemorate the establishment of the parish on December 25, 1982, by Cardinal Jaime Lachica Sin (1928-2005).
The parish is a simple modernist design, with a few Baroque furnishings in the retablo (altarpieces), including at the transepts. The low ceiling is representative of the humble roots of the community, unlike the high roofs of other churches. The bell tower shows inspiration of the Southwestern American Pueblo style, but its stark simplicity is accentuated with a stained glass window of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family).
The altar retablo has three paintings, made by an unknown artist. All the paintings are amalgams of other classical religious works, such as the left painting of the Nativity uses the angles in Noël Coypel’s (1628-1707) 1700s painting of the Birth of Christ.
The center painting of the Crucified Christ uses the central figure of Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez’s (1599-1660) Christ Crucified, which he did in 1632. Above the head of Jesus Christ is the line “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” as stated in John 19:19-20. At the top line is the Hebrew translation, which states “Zeh hû’ Yeshûa‘ melech ha-Yehûdîm” or “זה הוא ישוע מלך היהודים,” in the traditional Hebrew script. The Second line is the Greek interpretation of the Bible passage: in the “Iēsûs ho Nazōraêos ho Basileùs tês Dóxēs” or “Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῆς Δόξης,” in the traditional Greek alphabet. And finally, the third line is in Latin: “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum” or “IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM.”
The right side painting shows Christ Resurrected, with the central figure of Jesus’s pose taken from Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino’s (1483-1520) Transfigurazione, made between 1516 to 1520. The poses of the sleeping Roman guards was taken from Raffaellino del Colle‘s (1490–1566) Resurrezione di Cristo, painted in the 1600s.
The simplicity of the Nativity of the Lord Parish is not just a reflection of the unassuming of the residents of Barangay E. Rodriguez Sr., but it is also a symbol of the community spirit of the people. Even the retablo artist’s does not try to stake his name by signing his work, and advertise his skill; instead he keeps staying anonymous and seeing the work as a contribution to the neighborhood.