The Holy Family Parish in West Kamias, Quezon City, isn’t very impressive in its architecture, nor does it have an unusual history, with the exception that it is the first and only Catholic church of the Project 5 district, since the founding of the residential area in the 1950s. Established as a parish in 1980, the Holy Family Parish started as a small chapel, as is still the main landmark in the whole area.
The residential area known as Project 5 was created in 1954, as part of the governments Homesite housing program for government employees and families displaced by the effects of World War II (1939-1945). Project 5 encompassed the areas at the southwest corner of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short) and Kamuning Road, as well as the eastern area of EDSA and Kamias Road, stretching to Aurora Boulevard. This area would be divided into the barangays of Eugelio Rodriguez, Kamuning, East Kamias and West Kamias in 1975. However, with the separation of the four barangays, there was still no parish for any of the new barangays.
For East and West Kamias, the residents had had their chapel serviced by the priests of the Saint Joseph Archdiocesan Shrine, 1.7 kilometers from Aurora Boulevard, as well as the Society of the Divine Word (SVD, or Societas Verbi Divini) from the Sacred Heart Parish also 1.7 kilometers, in the Kamuning/Project 1 district. After the chapel was elevated to a parish, the residents started fund raising activities to build the new church.
After the establishment of the parish in 1980, the current church structure would be completed by the mid 1980s, with a typical bend of modernist geometric lines and ornate Baroque fixtures. However, when the church was first built, the structure was much simpler with its sleek modernist design. However, some parishioners and the parish priest could not avoid having the Baroque carvings, which is connected with traditions of the famous churches of Spanish colonial period (1565-1898).
The most obvious Baroque feature of the Holy Family Parish is its retable (altarpiece), the lectern and altar table; which were most likely carved by the santeros of Betis in Pampanga or Pate in Laguna, and completed in 2001. The retablo was christened as the “Ang Dambana ng Bagong Milenyo” (Shrine of the New Millennium), and has the image of the Sagrada Familia (Hoy Family) at the center, while icons of saints are placed at the sides. As of 2018, the icons at the sides of the retablo were the images of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By 2019, the saints have been replaced by the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Concepcion. On the altar table are the symbols of the Alpha (A) and the Omega (Ω), which relates to Jesus calling himself as the “beginning” (alpha) and the “end” (omega) in the Book of Revelation (1:8, 21:6, and 22:13). And at the lectern, there are symbols of the evangelists John, Luke, Mark and Matthew carved on each side of the stand.
Hanging in front of the ratablo is the traditional image of the Crucified Christ, which represent the salvation of man; whereas in the small altars along the left and right transepts are the images of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Joseph. The combination of all three images completes the icon of the Sagrada Familia.
At the left aisle are the images of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and the baptistery; while at the right aisle is the tabernacle. The image of the Marian incarnation of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, was once called Our Lady of Victory, which in turn is connected over the “miraculous” 1571 Battle of Lepanto, where the European Catholic states won a decisive victory over the larger Ottoman navy. The independent states of Venice, Spain, the Vatiacan, Genoa, Tuscany, Savoy, and Urbino, with the Knights of Malta, Knights of Saint Lazarus, and Order of Saint Stephen, only amounted to 212 ships and 28,500 men, against the Ottoman’s 278 ships and 31,490 soldiers. In the end, the Ottomans lost 230 of their ships compared to the 13 of the united Catholic states. Whereas in the baptistery, a single stained glass panel of the River Jordan is placed behind the baptismal font. The River Jordan is the location where John baptizes Jesus (Matthew 3:1-17).
The latest additions to the Holy Family Parish are the stained glass windows above the side doors of the church entrance, which were added in the early 2000s to commemorate the canonization of the second Filipino saint, San Pedro Calúñgsod (1654-1672), whose life is presented on the window at the right. San Pedro was from the Visayas regions, most likely (but contested) from the municipality of Ginatilan in the province of Cebu. In 1668, San Pedro accompanied several Spanish Jesuit missionaries to evangelize the native Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands. While at the southernmost island of Guam, a ex-convict from Manila, named Choco, was spreading rumors to the Chamorro people that the missionaries were spreading diseases among the young, this caused great distrust among some natives, especially the chieftain Mata’pang. Upon learning that the missionaries had baptized his new born daughter, the chieftain and accomplice speared and stabbed San Pedro and Saint Diego Luis de San Vitores (born Diego Jerónimo de San Vitores y Alonso de Maluendo, 1627-1672), and threw their bodies into the bay.
The other door features the life of the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz (1594-1637), who was born in Manila and served as an altar boy at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, or Binondo Church. However, San Lorenzo fled Manila after discovering that he was falsely accoused of murdering a Spaniard. Joining a Dominican mission to Japan, San Lorenzo landed in Okinawa in 1636. However, the Tokugawa Shogunate distrusted the missionaries, and started persecuting local and foreign Christians. San Lorenzo was subjected to the torture method, known as tsurushi (釣殺し), but never renounced his faith until his death.
On both the main and side doors of the Holy Family Parish, there are carved the images of a cherub that represents the intercession of God’s love, the Holy Eucharist that symbolized Christ’s sacrifice and the salvation of mankind, and finally the JHS christogram (ΙΗΣ) that represents Jesus Christ. The christogram or JHS or IHS is an abbreviations of the Latin “Iēsous Hēmeteros Sōtēr” or “Jesus is our savior.”
Outside the church is the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, dedicated to the 1858 Marian apparition to the 14-year old Saint Bernadeta Sobirós (1844-1879), near the town of Lourdes, in France.
Also outside the church is a sculpture of the Madonna and Child, which stands as a monument to the Sanctity of Life. Installed by the Knights of Columbus in 1997, this sculpture is part of the Catholic fraternal organization’s “Culture of Life” campaign, since the 1990s.
Other new developments outside the church’s original structure are the Parish Rectory and Adoration Chapel, which were completed in the 1990s.
No matter how recent the history of the Holy Family Parish, its impact to the communities of East and West Kamias is transformative of the neighborhood. With a dynamic parish community, the Holy Family Parish is now part of the history and heritage of Project 5.