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History of the Santa Ana Parish, Burgos

Santa Ana Parish - Burgos

History of the town

Burgos was formerly known as the sitio of Sipan and later named Unidad.  It became a barrio of the Municipality of Numancia in 1925.  

In 1953, Burgos and the other four barangays including Poblacion 1 and 2 were under the town of Santa Monica when it became independent from Numancia (now known as the municipality of Del Carmen).

As population progressed and income increased, the national government, pursuant to R.A. 5093 in 1967, created the barrio into a town called the Municipality of Burgos.

Although declared as an independent town in 1967, it did not have its own parish yet. It only had its sub-parish under the patronage of Sta. Ana which was juridically connected to the Parish of Santa Monica. 

Since then, the parish priest of Santa Monica (formerly known as Sapao) would occasionally celebrate Mass on Fiesta Day or weddings every July 26. 

Construction of the Sta. Ana sub-parish

The SVD missionaries fulfilled a big role in the growth of Santa Ana sub-parish when they arrived in 1973 taking over the pastoral needs of the entire Siargao Island and Bucas Grande Island upon the invitation of Most Rev. Miguel Cinches, SVD. 

When Fr. Arturo Bastes, SVD —who later became a bishop— was assigned to Santa Monica Parish; the old location of the church was transferred from P. Salvacion Street to its present location along the national highway, in 1982.

To accommodate the growing number of Catholics, the SVD parish priest initiated the building of a new church. 

The old lot was sold and the amount was used to purchase the current lot for around seven thousand pesos. 

In 1982, the construction of the present church began and was finished in 1984 wherein the construction materials came from the donations of the people of Burgos. 

A large donation came from the former mayor of Burgos and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Pastor Macaldo, who also donated the pews for the church, table and chairs at the altar which are still being used at present. 

Through the efforts of the devoted individuals who volunteered to do the labor, the construction work was completed without any cost.

The church was designed by Engr. Julio Bastes, the father of Fr. Arturo Bastes, SVD.

Beginnings of the Augustinian presence in Burgos

In 2001, the diocesan clergy took over the pastoral care of the Parish of Santa Monica from the SVD Missionaries.

In 2009, the parish priest of Santa Monica expressed his concern to the Augustinians in his parish territory that he could no longer handle the growing number of faithful and chapels and at the same time fulfilling the pastoral needs of the sub-parish of Santa Ana.  

Hence, then Parish Priest, Fr. Julian Dayola, DCS, who was also the Vicar Forane of the Vicariate of Mt. Carmel in Siargao Island at that time, verbally asked the Augustinians of Socorro to take over the pastoral needs of the town. Consequently, the invitation to formally accept Burgos was raised to the Bishop of Surigao, Most Rev. Antonieto Cabajog, D.D.

At that time, +Fr. Benjamin Unabia Jr., OSA and Fr. Leo Mario Singco, OSA, who were the friars assigned in Socorro, gladly responded to the invitation of Fr. Dayola.

With the arrival of the Augustinians, Burgos finally had resident priests that could attend to their spiritual needs. 

From January to April 2010, the two friars attended the spiritual administration of Burgos alternately every month to respond on the pastoral needs of the people staying at the convent adjacent to the church. 

In April of the same year, Fr. Unabia permanently resided in Burgos and became the sub-parish administrator. 

In the following month, Rev. Leonard Realiza, OSA arrived in Burgos.

He was later ordained priest in August and he eventually became a parochial vicar until May 2012. 

With the help of benefactors, Fr. Unabia and Fr. Realiza in 2011 renovated the church altar, installed tiles on the entire church floor, and expanded the old convent for the office space. 

The sub-parish also hosted the biggest gathering of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion of the Diocese of Surigao, the first diocesan level event held in the sub-parish. 

When the reshuffling of assignments took place in May 2012, Fr. Realiza was transferred to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu while Fr. Unabia was retained in Burgos. 

Fr. Alfonso Sedurifa, OSA was assigned in place of Realiza as parochial vicar from May 2012 until May 2014. 

From sub-parish to parish

In April 2012, the 8th Ordinary Provincial Chapter of the Province Santo Niño de Cebu approved the definitive acceptance of Burgos and created a separate Augustinian presence from Socorro, thus, founding the Burgos Residence with Fr. Benjamin Unabia, Jr., OSA as local superior and treasurer and Fr. Alfonso Sedurifa, OSA as procurator. 

On July 26, 2012, the Diocese of Surigao and the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu- Philippines signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) ratifying a twenty five-year – and renewable – presence of the Augustinians in ministering the then sub-parish of Santa Ana. 

Rev. Msgr. Edito N. Alcala, DCS and then Prior Provincial, Very Rev. Fr. Eusebio Berdon, OSA signed the MOA in the presence of the diocesan clergy, the Augustinian friars, and the people of Burgos. 

Even without the status of a parish, Sta. Ana sub-parish enjoyed privileges and rights proper to a parish. 

Fray Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA, who was on his seven-month Pastoral Exposure in 2012, started retrieving the records of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Burial of the sub-parish from the canonical books of the Parish of Santa Monica. This process is essential to the elevation of Sta. Ana as a parish. He also started organizing the parochial office and served as its interim secretary appointed by the Sub-parish administrator, Fr. Benjamin Unabia, OSA.

Eventually after three years of Augustinian presence, Most Rev. Antonieto Cabajog, D.D. created in a decree the elevation of Santa Ana sub-parish as a parish. 

The consecration coincided with the 46th town fiesta on July 26, 2013. 

After 46 years since Burgos became a municipality, the Sta. Ana sub-parish was elevated into an independent parish. 

This is a historical milestone not only for the Augustinians but also for the people of Burgos, who had been waiting for a long time to have its own parish with resident priests. 

Continued Augustinian presence and developments in Burgos

Before the construction of a new two-storey convent began in August 2014, renovations were already made in the church’s choir loft.

Fr. Benjamin Unabia Jr., OSA supervised the construction of the convent from its inception until his transfer of assignment.

For six months since May 2014, at the transfer of Fr. Sedurifa, Fr. Unabia was the only friar administering the parish. Eventually, Fr. Fernando Cleopas, OSA arrived in November to assist Fr. Unabia as the parochial vicar. A year after, Fr. Unabia was transferred to Cebu in November 2015 to undergo a medical treatment. 

Since then, he was not able to return to Burgos and became a member of the Augustinian Novitiate and Prayer House in Mohon, Talisay City until his passing on August 1, 2018.

Fr. Fernando Cleopas, OSA became the acting parish priest from December 2015 until March 2016, during his term the construction of a new convent was completed. 

Fr. Edmar Escobar, OSA, who arrived earlier in June 2015 after his solemn profession, also assisted Fr. Cleopas in the construction. 

On February 28, 2016, the new convent was blessed after almost two years ready to accommodate more friars and guests in the parish.  

Meanwhile, the old convent was made into a guest house, providing office spaces for WESTY (Worship, Education, Service, Temporalities, and Youth), Parish Pastoral Council, and Parish Finance Council.

Fr. Escobar was later ordained priest in April 2016 and became the parochial vicar. 

During the reshuffling in May 2016, another set of friars were assigned to Burgos.

Fr. Sisinio Paderog, OSA became the third Parish Priest of Santa Ana together with Fr. Oswald Duran, OSA, who was later sent to Cascia, Rome in November of the same year, and Fr. Edmar Escobar, OSA, who was retained from his assignment. 

In the following month, Fray Peter Cantones, OSA joined the residence after his Solemn Profession in June 2016 and he was later ordained priest in August 2017. 

Since then, he also became a parochial vicar until September 2018.

In the same month after Fr. Cantones’ transfer to Rome, Fray Ian Geoffrey Kasilag, OSA, a newly solemn professed friar at that time, arrived in Burgos.

He became a member of the residence and remained until the end of the term in June 2021.

Fr. Paderog only stayed for a year in Burgos as he was later transferred to Santo Niño Mohon Parish in Talisay City, Cebu for health reasons. Fr. Donato Ellezar, OSA assumed his post and became the fourth parish priest of Burgos when he was assigned in April 2017 until the change of assignments in June 2021.  

From August 2017 until March 2018, during the term of Fr. Ellezar and Fr. Escobar, the belfry underwent a substantial rehabilitation and retrofitting.

In 2019, several projects were initiated such as putting up of a canopy connecting the old and the new convent, expansion of the service area, and setting up of a library and archives.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the reshuffling of assignments was put on hold. 

After a year, four friars, namely, Fr. Noli Detoyato, OSA, (as the fifth Parish Priest), Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA (Prior of the Socorro-Burgos Community), Fr. Fredie Billones, OSA, and Rev. Elmer Ebol, OSA (a deacon at the time of his assignment) were newly assigned in Burgos in July 2021. 

Fr. Billones was later transferred to Augustinian Novitiate and Prayer House in April 2022 while Fr. Ebol was transferred to Colegio San Agustin- Mati in January. 

In time for the July 2022 fiesta, Fr. Detoyato expanded the left side of the church by adding a canopy to serve as additional space for mass attendees.

The extension also served as a venue for parish meetings.  In July 2023, an open multipurpose court was constructed on the vacant lot of the parish.

Socio-Pastoral Projects

On December 16, 2021, a devastating typhoon (Typhoon Odette) struck Siargao Island.

Burgos was one of the places badly hit by the super typhoon where most of the houses and establishments were totally destroyed.

According to the Augustinian friars who had a first-hand experience of the typhoon, people took shelter in the convent. The convent served as an evacuation center.

Efforts were immediately initiated by the Augustinian friars in Burgos to help rebuild the town. A relief operation was conducted through donations coming from Augustinian institutions around the country and from the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu- Philippines, and several benefactors.

The parish also spearheaded the donation of houses sponsored by the Diocese of Surigao to the most affected families. Pump boats were also given to fishermen donated by a private organization.

In addition, beyond the distribution of relief goods and giving of temporary shelters, the Augustinians were able to galvanize efforts from civil society, business, and government sectors to continue the rehabilitation efforts not only of Burgos but the entire island of Siargao.

The Augustinian friars in Burgos led by Fr. Tito D. Soquiño, OSA were able to bring together people of goodwill, particularly the alumni of the Asian Institute of Management who were willing to help. Thus, the Ahon Siargao program was conceptualized. The program facilitated the building of eight Day-care centers at the different barangays.  As of this writing, the group is also in the process of creating more sustainable programs as part of the continued rehabilitation on the island.  

In a span of thirteen years since 2010, seventeen Augustinian friars have served the Sta. Ana Parish– a total of six parish priests and eleven parochial vicars. This excludes Augustinian seminarians who spent their six-month pastoral exposure program before their solemn profession of vows and were considered members of the residence. They were Fray Ronald Siaga, OSA, Fray Harold Langahin, OSA, Fray Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA, Fray Antonio Nombrefia, OSA, Fray Arvin Salceda, OSA, Fray Anacleto Morales III, OSA, who were eventually ordained priests. 

The presence of the Augustinians in Burgos also served as an inspiration for young men to respond to the call and discern the Augustinian religious life. Sta. Ana Parish is also a source of vocation in the Province. One of them is Fray CSN S. Pomoy, OSA who is, as of August 2023, himself a pastoral exposurist and leading as well to his final profession as an Augustinian friar.

Blessing new houses in Burgos

By the time Burgos was accepted by the Province, it became the third presence of the Augustinians in Mindanao. 

As the Province celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Augustinians hope to renew and remain to be of service to the people of Burgos. (Fr. Genesis Labana, OSA)

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