Last updated on September 30, 2019
Fr. Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga, OSA, a friar, in his “1803 Historia de las Islas Filipinas” wrote that the Convent or Parochial house of San Agustin, in Baliuag, is the best in the whole Archipelago and that no edifice in Manila can be compared to it in symmetry and beauty amid its towering belfry, having been a viewing point of the town’s panorama. The frayle further stated that the Convent was a repository of priceless parish records which dated to the founding of Baliuag as a pueblo or parrochia by the OSA or Augustinians in 1733. But the first convent was erected at Barangay Sta. Barbara, Baliuag before the Parokya was formally established at the now Plaza Naning, Poblacion.
Fr. Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga arrived in the Philippines on August 3, 1786 and visited Baliuag on February 17, 1802 with Ignacio Maria de Álava y Sáenz de Navarrete. Their host was Baliuag’s Parish Priest, Fray Esteban Diez Hidalgo. Fr. Diez served as the longest cura parroco of Baliuag from 1789, having built the church and convent from 1790 to 1801.
Spanish records “Apuntes históricos de la provincia augustiniana del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús de Filipinas” reveal that Fr. Juan de Albarran, OSA was assigned Parish Priest of Baliuag in 1733. The first baptism in Baliuag Church was ordered by Fr. Lector and Fr. Feliz Trillo, Provincial of the Province on June 7, 1933 while Baliuag was founded and began its de jure existence on May 26, 1733. The pueblo or town was created in the provincial Chapter on May 15, 1734, with the appointment of Fr. Manuel Bazeta/Baseta as first cura parroco.
In 1769-1774, the Church of Baliuag was built by Father Gregorio Giner. The present structure (the third church to be rebuilt, due to considerable damage during the 1880 Luzon earthquakes) was later rebuilt by Father Esteban Diaz using mortar and stone. The 1866 Belfry was also completed by Father Matias Novoa but the July 19, 1880 quake damaged the same which was later repaired by Father Thomas Gresa.
The earthquake of June 3, 1863, one of the strongest to ever hit Manila, destroyed the Governor’s Palace in Intramuros. Malacañang then, became the permanent residence of the head of the country. The massive quake also damaged the Baliuag Church. In 1870, the reconstruction began when a temporary house of worship, the “Provincial”, along Año 1733 street, emerged as a narrow, and simple edifice which later used by the RVM Sisters of the Colegio de la Sagrada Familia (now St. Mary’s College of Baliuag) as classroom. Antonio de Mesa, “Maestrong Tonio” fabricated the parts to have finished the Spanish-era Baliuag Church.