Sto. Niño de Tondo Parochial Church

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Tondo Church

Sto. Niño de Tondo Parochial Church is one of the most visited churches in the Philippines. It is located in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. The feast of Sto. Niño of Tondo is celebrated every third week of January. Many people come to participate in the fluvial procession, because back then the terrain of Tondo was consisted of waterways and tributaries which were connected to Manila Bay,a possible reason why the current church was made up of stone. It was built on elevated ground to prevent sea waters from inundating the church.



The church was founded by the Augustinians who were the first order to arrive in the Philippines. The Augustinian Convent in Tondo was approved by the provincial chapter on 3 May 1572. Its visitas were Lubao, Betis and Calumpit. Tondo Church's first parish priest was Fr. Alonzo Alvarado, OSA and his assistant was Fr. Pedro Holgado, OSA.

In 1575, the parish included Naga, now Navotas; Misic, a small island that was also called Maysilo; and Bulacan. In 1578, Fr. Geronimo Marin, the church's then friar, became a peace negotiator between Lakandula and Juan de Salcedo in Navotas.

When the Franciscans' monastery got burned in 1583, they stayed at the Tondo convent and it served as a Studium Grammaticae for them while their monastery was being rebuilt. By 1591, the convent welcomed two priests to minister to a flock of 6,000 lay persons in Navotas and Tambobong (now Malabon).

The convent subsisted on donations because it did not have any estates to provide it with income. It was also the only house near Manila where visiting priests could stay. On 12 December 1597, the council fathers imposed penalties that the or visitors staying at the convent for more than12 hours.

In 1597, numerous aspirants were admitted to the convent despite its poor economic status. In 1599, its visitas expanded to Navotas, Malabon, and Caloocan. In the council meeting of that year, the provincial head of the religious community excused the convent from paying its yearly collection because of its financial condition. The convent purchased a garden lot for vegetables the earnings of which would go toward the 200 peso Manila fund.

The construction of the first building on the site dated back to 1611 under the supervision of Fr. Alonzo Guerrero and was believed to have been completed in three years. In 1620, the convent was excused from its 10% contribution. The money was instead used for church and convent repairs. The same resolution was approved the following year. In 1625, the convent was used by Fr. Antonio de Ocampo as collateral for a loan of 800 pesos, which was used for imporovements like the dining room and staircase.

In 1641, during the revolt of the Sangleys, the church was damaged and underwent repairs. It also survived an earthquake in 1645. In 1661, the buildings were ordered to be demolished by Governor Sabiniano Manrique de Lara in fear of the arrival of the Chinese pirate Koseng from Formosa, Taiwan who might secure the structure. The church was later reconstructed, and in 1692, it was relieved of all taxes for that purpose

In 1728, the buildings were expanded with a budget of 2,000 pesos from the religious community. In 1734, the facade and the towers were erected under the supervision of Fr. Diego Bergano. To aid the construction, the church charged a quarter of a peso for each banca who wished to cross the estero near the convent. However, an earthquake damaged the buildings again in 1740. In 1759, it became a regular house of the order.

Again, on 3 June 1863, the church was damaged by an earthquake and was rebuilt under the supervision of Fr. Manuel Diez Gonzales. From 1874 to 1880, Fr. Casimiro Herrero, minister of Tondo, continued the restoration, following the plans of architect Luciano Oliver who used steel framing for the orange dome and iron sheets for the roofing. When Condrado Gregorio took over the construction, he used aramadura de hierro which were to be imported from England.


The present church is 65 meters long, 22 meters wide and 17 meters high. It has one main central nave and two aisles connected by solid columns, and is Neo-Classical inspired with its Ionic pilasters and buttresses supporting the domes of the bell towers. On each side of the facase are twin towers. Straight lines and a rose window embellish the triangular pediment.


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