The parish of Tondo was the first church to build in Luzon during the Spanish era and erected by the ‘Provincial Chapter’ on May 13 1572. Fr. Alonzo Alvarado, OSA was the first parish priest.
In 1575, the jurisdiction of the parish comprised Navotas, Misic (now Maysilo), and Bulacan province. In 1578, Fr. Geronimo Marin negotiated with Lakandula of Tondo province and Maestro de Ocampo Juan de Salsedo of Navotas to uphold peace and order within the parish. In 1583, Franciscan Order resided here after a ravaged fire destroyed their monastery. The first two parish priests were served the community of 6 000 individuals from Navotas and Tabobong (now Malabon City).
According to the historian, the first construction stoned parish began in 1611 under the pastorship of Fr. Alonzo Guerrero. In 1641, the church was damaged in the height of Sangley-Prior feud. The 2nd building was devastated by two tremendous earthquakes in 1645 and on June 3 1863.
The 3rd chapel was built by Fr. Manuel Diez Gonzales, the parish priest, until the term of Fr. Casimiro Herrero from 1874 to 1880 with Arch. Luciano Oliver who designed the church. They used several modern substances like alloy and nickel which bought from England was the first modern structure in the Philippines. Arch. Conrado Gregorio succeeded Arch. Oliver to maintain the said construction; he recommended the use of ‘arnadura de hierro’ for the church.
The erection suddenly postponed during the Second World War because the church was the headquarters or firearms storages by the Japanese soldiers, therefore liturgical services of the parish was done within the house of Primo Arambulo. In the last days, the church reopened to the public and to the sacraments, it also served as the shelter for refugees during the Japanese escape at the North Harbor.
Sto. Niño’s experiences during the tyranny were proven by their faith and devotion: when American soldiers occupied the church, there was a vast plague that results to their illness, and within 24 hours, they were decided to abandon the church.
Throughout the War, in 1945, Fr. Jose Jovellanos, the parish priest of Sto. Niño, fled away from the Japanese invaders with the image of the Sto. Niño. All parishioners were miraculously saved as well during their heist. After the war, some sacred objects inside the church were unscratched.
The image was brought by a Galleon ship in Acapulco, Mexico and the Arzobispado received it from a wealthy man and afterward he awarded it to Tondo. The luxurious image measures 20 inches high, with white and gold garments, a crown made of gold dazzled with diamonds, on his left hand he hold a globe while the other hand a ‘setro.’ Today, the image is placed at the center of the altar.
On July 14 1972, the image was taken away, and suddenly an intense rainfall sunk Central Luzon. After almost 3 weeks, it brought back to the church on August 2 1972.
The feast of Sto. Niño is celebrate annually on 3rd Sunday of January, there are massive pilgrims visiting the parish. The most prominently celebration of the festival is the water pumping procession whereas they are dancing, shouting and chanting together with their images and their children. Devotees as well as tourists attract the celebration. But in 1983, Bishop Amado Paulino, who was the parish priest ordered to stop temporarily this kind of occasion.
During the period of Fr. Pasifico Ma. Mendoza in 1985, he continued the proposal of his predecessor, Bishop Paulino, through reconstruction of the church, empowering parochial organizations, and activities and repairing the Holy Child School.
When Fr. Manuel Sebastian took the pastorship in 1995, liturgical services had revitalized. There is booming number of lay leaders who gave time for the parish.
In 1997, Msgr. Emmanuel Sunga installed as the parish priest. He remodeled the church structure by repairing stronger roofs, installation of Carillon Bells, and many other parts.
Rev Fr. Erick Santos assumed the curacy for 9 years; he was the most diligent pastor in Tondo. He revised the organizational structure of the parish, the BEC’s and he remodeled and prioritized the school with enthusiasm.
The current pastor is Rev. Fr. Jacinto Rey Padua. In his first two months at the parish, the church was again remodeled and other liturgical services were revitalized. His other priorities in the parish are formulating basic formation programs for lay leaders and strengthening the BECs.
Parish Priests of Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish (based on retrieved records)
- Juan Alonzo de Alvarafdo, OSA (1572)
- Fr. Alonzo Guerrero (1611)
- Fr. Diego Bergano (1734)
- Fr. Manuel Diez Gonzales (1863)
- Fr. Casimiro Herrero (1874-1880)
- Fr. Mariano Gil (1889-1898)
- Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin (1898-1918)
- Jose Jovellanos (1919-1971)
- Most Rev. Amado Paulino (1972-1985)
- Pacifico Ma. Mendoza (1985-1995)
- Manuel Sebastian (1995-1997)
- Emmanuel Suñga (1997-2002)
- Fr. Enrique Santos (2002-2011)
- Fr. Jacinto Rey Padua (2011-present)