Whenever one talks about the Catholic heritage of Metropolitan Manila, the focus is always on the Catholic Churches of the City of Manila. That should not come as a surprise as the city itself has been the center of activity for centuries while those outside Manila were then just considered as rural outbacks. In that context, while it is nice to see these towns progress to the cities they are now, it is unfortunate that in the process, some of that old town flavor got lost in the midst of urbanization and, sadly mostly unchecked, planning.
Nevertheless, some vestiges of heritage remain throughout the metropolis beyond the City of Manila itself, especially when it comes to churches. Some are well-known already like the St. Joseph Church in Las Piñas which is home to the famous Bamboo Organ. Then there is this church which we will talk about today, the St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Barangay La Huerta in Parañaque.
St. Andrew’s Cathedral traces its roots as far back as 1580, when Augustinian missionaries established a parish in what was then known as the fishing village of Palanyag. Considering the largely fishing occupation of the people in the village, this new church would be dedicated to St. Andrew, one of the 12 Disciples/Apostles of Jesus Christ and also considered by the Catholic Church as the “patron saint of fishermen.” In addition, the church was also dedicated later on to the Marian image Our Lady of the Good Success or the Nuestra Señora de Buen Suceso, whose image is enshrined in the church.
The present church structure was built sometime between 1638 and 1650. It almost was demolished in 1662 as the Spanish colonial government under Governor General Sabiniano Manrique de Lara ordered the demolition in the wake of a possible attack by the Chinese pirate Koxinga. However, the Augustinians pleaded to spare the church. The government eventually granted their plea so only the nearby convent was demolished instead. And Koxinga died before the attack materialized, sparing Manila and the rest of the country in the process.
The church also survived the Philippine Revolution and World War II. With regards to adminstration, the church has seen such changes over the years from the Augustinians to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary before it was transferred to the administration of the Archdiocese of Manila in the 1990s.
Eventually, due to the growing Catholic population especially in southern Metro Manila, the need arose for a new diocese in the area. Thus, Parañaque, as well as Las Piñas and Muntinlupa became part of a new diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, the Diocese of Parañaque. St. Andrew’s Church was chosen to become the seat of the new diocese, thus becoming a cathedral church.
Thus, St. Andrew’s Cathedral stands today as an important Catholic bastion of southern Metro Manila, as this old church that has been overlooked over the years now plays a prominent role in the Catholic affairs in this part of the metropolis.