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The Return of the Augustinians in Ilocos: Vintar Mission Station

Santo Niño Mission Station - Vintar, Ilocos Norte Ilocos Norte

After an absence spanning 121 years, the Augustinian friars returned to Ilocos Norte. 

The Augustinian missionaries were the builders of the Spanish colonial era churches in both Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, serving the Ilocano people until the year 1898. 


Historically, the Augustinian friars from the Provincia del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús (now based in Valladolid, Spain) were instrumental in the evangelization of the Ilocos region. 

Their involvement dates back to 1572 when Spanish Fray Alonso de Alvarado, OSA, joined Juan de Salcedo in exploring the north, setting in motion the spread of the Gospel in the Ilocandia.

The Augustinians played a pivotal role in founding the old Ilocos towns and constructing the world-renowned churches of Paoay, Santa María, and even a Basilica in Badoc. 

Their contributions extended to various aspects of community development– from urban planning to municipal halls, schools, roads, bridges, and irrigation canals.

In an interview by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News with Fr. Ericson Josué, a Doctoral Student in History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said, “Practically, everything that you see in a town was their contribution to the human development of our ancestors. They built our churches and parish houses, they did the urban planning of the old towns, they constructed the old municipal halls and schools, they directed the building of roads and bridges that connected the towns, they introduced weaving of cotton and directed the digging of irrigation canals.”

The return

Upon the invitation of the Bishop of Laoag to come to his diocese, the Augustinians returned to Ilocos.

One of the reasons cited by the Prior Provincial, Fr. Andres Rivera Jr., OSA, was to honor the Augustinians especially the forefathers for the many contributions they made to Ilocandia. 

The Augustinians’ return was also part of the diocese’s activities in celebration of the 500 years of the Introduction of Christianity in the Philippines. 

On August 5, 2019, the Augustinian friars were then initially introduced to the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Vintar, Ilocos Norte, following a mass on the feast day of Saint John Mary Vianney. 

The warm welcome they received marked a momentous occasion.

Rekindling the historical ties of the Augustinians to the region, the Filipino Augustinian Friars from the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu have embarked on a new mission in Ilocos Norte, naming it Santo Niño Mission Station – Pallas Valley.

Naming the mission station after Santo Niño is a dream of the good bishop. Bishop Mayugba observed that no parish is named after the beloved Child Jesus. With the return and assistance of the Augustinians, this dream would be realized. Hopefully, the parish will be named after the Holy Child and considered the first parish in the Diocese of Laoag with a titular name of the Santo Niño.

In a memorable mass on the Memorial of St. Augustine, Most Rev. Renato Mayugba, D.D., Bishop of Laoag, entrusted the Augustinians with a new mission station in Pallas Valley.

On August 28, 2019, the official inauguration mass of the Augustinian Mission took place at the chapel of the Holy Family in Brgy. Bulbulala, Vintar, Ilocos Norte. The chapel is located in a valley called Pallas. 

It was presided over by Bishop Mayugba and was attended by the Augustinian friars and the Diocesan Clergy of Laoag.

Friars from Saguday Residence were the pioneering missionaries in Pallas Valley. 

Fr. Exuper Lumintac, OSA, Fr. Christian Funtanares, OSA, and Fr. Richard Bryan Mijares, OSA took turns visiting Vintar from August 2019 to January 2020 while still concretizing the Augustinian presence in Ilocos. 

Together with them were three simple professed friars on Pastoral Exposure: Fray Roner Anildes, OSA, Fray Jebie Jugarap, OSA, and Fray Rey Cyril Lagrosa, OSA until their return to Quezon City for the preparation of their solemn profession. 

After Fr. Mijares’ stay in January 2020, Fr. Christian Funtanares, OSA and Fr. Mark Domasian, OSA, took charge of Vintar until the change of assignments in July 2021.

While searching for a permanent lot for the future convent and parish, the friars live temporarily at the house of the Solomon Family, 50 meters away from the chapel.


In July 2021, a new set of friars, consisting of Fr. Sisinio Paderog, OSA and Fr. Harold Langahin, OSA, was assigned to the Mission Station, further solidifying the Augustinians’ presence in the region.

This mission station, at least a 10-hour drive from Saguday,  is part of the Residence’s ministry aside from administering the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish, Saguday, Quirino Province.

A significant development in the mission’s consolidation came in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between the Diocese of Laoag and the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu– Philippines on July 20, 2023. 

The MOA was signed by His Excellency, Most Rev. Renato P. Mayugba, D.D., Bishop of Laoag,  and Very Rev. Fr. Andres D. Rivera Jr., OSA, Prior Provincial of the Province, at the Bishop’s Residence in Laoag City.

MOA Signing Vintar
Bishop Mayugba together with the Prior Provincial and his Council during the signing of MOA on July 20, 2023. in the photo also are Fr. Paderog and Fr. Langahin, who are assigned in Vintar.

The agreement highlights the entrustment of the pastoral care of Santo Niño Mission Station to the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu, the establishment of a Friary, a future quasi parish/parish and other structures relative to the evangelization mission of the Augustinians.

In addition, the mission station possesses canonical rights and is independent from the Mother Parish of St. Nicholas of Tolentine. 

It was authorized to maintain its own canonical records, including those pertaining to baptism, marriage, conversions, confirmations, deaths, and other relevant privileges– characteristics of that of a parish. 

Under its jurisdiction are four barangays: Brgy. Bulbulala, Brgy. Ester, Brgy. Namuroc, and Brgy. Mabanbanag. 

However, there are only two chapels with the seat of the mission in the Holy Family Chapel in Brgy. Bulbulala.

This vibrant mission station is also home to several lay organizations that actively contribute to the spiritual and social life of the community namely: Friends of Saint Augustine (youth ministry), Knights of Santo Niño (altar servers), Lectors and Cantors, and Mother Butlers Guild.

Moreover, it plays host to an array of events that unite the community, celebrating their faith and cherished traditions. Among the noteworthy celebrations are:

The Feast of Santo Niño, every third Sunday of January.

The Feast of St. Augustine, on the twenty-eighth day of August every year.

The culmination of Rosary Month, every October. 

Additionally, there are the Holy Week Activities, the Family Day (Pasko sa Parokya), and the Feast of the Holy Family, held every December.

With the return of the Augustinian missionaries in Ilocos, marks another chapter in the Province’s history as they continue their mission of evangelization.

Meanwhile, Fr. Joseph Farrel, OSA, Assistant General of the Order of Saint Augustine based in Rome, extended his best wishes and prayers to the missionaries in Pallas Valley as they take on their missionary journey, reinforcing the significance of this historic return. 

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