srt story
The Church of the Parish of
Sts. Peter and Paul of
Calasiao


Excellently restored, the church in Calasiao gives maximum credit to its present stewards and parishioners who are a deep scene of history and aesthetic sensibility. Just one look at it and surely; the viewer is taken in by its elegant beauty, at once inspiring and ennobling. What happens next is an invitation to history and perhaps, an encounter with the one and only source of eternal beauty.

Towards the latter part of the seventeenth century, the Dominican Provincial Chapter placed the parish of Calasiao ( derived from " Calasian" which means " place of lightnings") under the patronage of St. Paul. However, from 1621 onwards, it became the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul, presumably because a newer and bigger church are erected, Fr. Juan Maldonado de San Pedro Martin was the town's first parish priest.

In 1763, when the natives headed by the local rebel-hero Palaris, took up arms against the government, the church was put to the torch. The alcalde-mayor and other Spaniards besieged by the rebels of Binalatongan ( later called San Carlos), took refuge in the brick tower as the church and convent were burning. The religious ( the Dominicans present inside the convent) saved themselves by escaping with the help of the insurgents who respected them.

Ten years after this episode, in 1773, Bishop Miguel Garcia de Nueva Segovia choose the town of Calasiao as the site of a diocesan synod in compliance with a ruling of the Provincial Council of Manila 1771 which had provided in the Acts that the diocesan bishop should conduct diocesan synods to better implement church decrees. According to records, Calasiao was selected because it was centrally located as well as to indicate that the church and the convent, at the time had already risen from the ruins.

Later, in 1804, a new church of three naves, measuring 89 varas ( yards) in length, 22 in width and 18 in height with two rows of windows, was built. It had also a belltower, older than the church itself. But unfortunately, in 1841 o 1842, this church was leveled to the ground once again. The church was rebuilt a little later by Fr. Ramon Dalmau with the cooperation of his parishioners. But before this church was fully completed, it was burned once more in 1852. Fr. Ramon Suares rebuilt the church between 1853-1858. When the last Dominican Vicar Fr. Bonifacio Probanza, left Calasiao in 1898, the church of Sts. Peter and Paul was reputed to be the richest church in ornaments in the entire Pangasinan.

During the American era, secular priests had taken over as administrators of the parish. The church was renovated when it hosted the Christ the King event in 1936 in 1945, the cathedral and the archbishop's palace from Lingayen temporarily transferred to Calasiao because the one in Lingayen had been destroyed during the war. Thus, for three years Calasiao had this singular privilege. People consider miraculous the fact that during the Liberation, three bombs were thrown in the direction of the church ad convert but these bombs failed to explode, thus saving both structures.

After the Second World War, Fr. Juan Bello became parish priest, followed by Fathers Benigno Serafica, Jose Ferrer, Msgr. Oscar Aquino, Bishop Jesus Cabrera and the present Parish Priest, Msgr. Luis Ungson, ably assisted by Fr. Ronwell Fabregas and presently by Fr. Jose R. Carino and Allen O. Romero, an assistant Parish Priest, an assistant Parish Priest. In an interview with Msgr. Luis B. Ungson, pointed out the hole on the second floor o the convent through which the plague victims in the 17th and 18th centuries were blessed. This was done so that the priest would not be directly exposed to the virus. The hole has since then been sealed by the outline is still visible. Another interesting anecdote they share is that the church's large wooden floors on the second flow were used as setting for the movie" Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basang", the Sleeping beauty Episode.

The church suffered from the earthquake of July 16, 1990. Its belfry was totally destroyed so that a new one, exactly like the original was constructed. All the antique statues have been cleaned and restored as well as the ceiling's original, eye-catching floral motif thanks to the prayers and devotions of the kneeling Msgr. Luis B. Ungson the Architect-rebuilder, the original antiquity of the church was restored.

Recently, the church acquired fully automatic bells or chimes which could be heard within 7 or 8 kilometer-radius if there are no atmospheric disturbances. Donated by a generous soul, the high tech bells ring in Angelus three times a day and other various hymns as well as Christmas carols. The antique bell shall be preserved inside a small tower.

Any visitor who goes up the stair-case leading to the second floor of the convert does not fail to notice and oil painting of Fr. Luis Gandullo in a prayer ful mood. Records reveal that Fr. Gandullo, when he was assigned in Pangasinan, worked in Calasiao and became Vicar of Binalatongan or San Carlos in the early 17th century. His apostolic zeal was exemplary, visiting men and women in the remotest areas just to be able to attend to their spiritual needs. He was also known to be a mystic, conversing intimately with God and His saints in the conversion of soul. In fact, Fr. Gandullo had been instrumental in softening the initial resistance of the natives of Pangasinan to evangelization. That his presence and influence continues to hold sway is not an understatement.

The largely conservative parishioners have proven quite supportive of parish concerns. With a dominantly young population, Calasiao's parish has taken steps to insure the youth involvement. The Catholic Youth Movement, which was introduced by Msgr. Luis B. Ungson in Pangasinan, is very active. Among its activities are the regular seminars held in the parish to awaken the youth's role and relationship with themselves, with their families and friends and with the community, the choir; the catechetical work; the social apostolate. Indeed, the parish can count on its young blood to sustain the renewal of faith among the parishioners.

Calasiao's fame as a spiritual haven may be attributed to the Senor Divino Tesoro whose crucified image ( more than a hundred fifty years old) is housed in an edifice situated on the block where the present municipal nursery and basketball court stand. Devotion to this image of Jesus Christ has intensified through the centuries.

Numerous attempts have been made to move this image from the Municipal Hall to a building of its own. He has not budged an inch though. Several miraculous tales attributed to the Senor Divino Tesoro are fondly recalled by His devotees. To cite one, during WW II, a big fire was raging violently in the Poblacion. The image at that time was temporarily moved to the church for the offering of a thanksgiving mass. A mass devotee thought of bringing out the image and with assistance from other parishioners, it was moved on its carriage and made to face the direction of the area where the fire was fast spreading towards a cluster of residential houses. Suddenly, as if an unseen hand had acted as a barrier , the wind veered and changed direction. The fire was immediately under control.

Another story has it that during the landing of the American Liberation forces in 1945, there was a continuous barrage of artillery shelling and bombing on the coastal areas of Lingayen Gulf, reaching the town of Calasiao. The Municipal Hall where the Senor Divino Tesoro was sheltered remained unscathed despite bombs falling all around save for an artillery missile that tore through the roofing and got embedded on the ground without actually exploding. Other bombs that fell in the vicinity of the poblacion killed some residents.

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