Monday, July 31, 2006


Yesterday, as the rains swept Metro Manila, I donned my rain gear and dragged my nephew to come with me to Espiritu Santo Church — right on the corner of Rizal Avenue and Tayuman Street in Santa Cruz, Manila.

I was amazed to find it just as beautiful a church as during the days of my youth.

It recently made the news when its priceless monstrance made of gold was stolen — a symbol of the Holy Spirit; usually left at the altar to symbolize the presence of God in the church. It was supposedly taken by a group of unidentified robbers very early on the Sunday of July 2nd.

I have very fond memories of this church. Being only a few blocks from our house, this was where we went to every Sunday. I had my first communion here, as well as my baptism and confirmation. Actually, I was baptized twice on that very same Sunday — the first was at 10 a.m. and the second was just before noon.

What happened was my godfather’s car broke down while they were en route to Manila from Magdalena, Laguna. He was then the mayor of that town. My parents — suspecting he got tied up in some official business which may have prevented him from attending — went ahead and took me for the 10 o’clock ceremony.

About half an hour after coming home from church, my godfather arrived with his entire family and some friends. It was a convoy of about four vehicles filled with people intent on having a wonderful time. They also brought along a whole roasted pig. My parents were too embarrassed to tell what had happened earlier so, I was rushed back to the church along with all these people to be baptized a second time. I don’t remember ever meeting my godfather while growing up, but he would always send me two bushels of lanzones every year when in season.

Having been baptized twice, I would occasionally tease a devout Catholic aunt, that I was assured a ticket to heaven. But she would quickly argue that had I been truly touched by God while going through those two baptismal rites, I would have been busily pursuing priesthood, or at the very least, had grown up to become an ideal Catholic. You see, something happened when I was about twelve that she did not approve of.

The elementary school I attended had its Catholic pupils taught religion by teachers from Espiritu Santo Parochial School. We were also to go to confessions and receive communion at this church, only a short walking distance from school. Our class was scheduled for Wednesday afternoons for confessions, but one particular afternoon, while sitting on a pew waiting for my turn to walk over to the confessionary box, I was hit with what seemed like a foreboding gloom; making me slowly got up and walked home.

That following Saturday morning, while on our way to his office, I told my father that I didn’t feel comfortable going to confession anymore. And much to my surprise, just like that, my father said, “Okay.” And no further words were ever spoken about it.

Nonetheless, I waited another week, and when assured that it was, indeed, all right with my parents since no other discussions ensued about it, I announced to my brothers and sisters over dinner one night about my decision and our father’s approval of it. No one bothered to make any remark, which I attributed to their lack of desire to question my father’s consent. However, there were giggling from two of my brothers which were quickly halted with just a menacing glare from my eldest sister.

When my eldest brother asked what led to my decision, I said that it just didn’t seem proper that I must confess my sins through a priest — a man. And if I had, in fact, sinned, I should at least have the decency and courage to admit it directly to God and place myself at His mercy. My two brothers were about to giggle again, but beat them to it when I said that masturbation had nothing to do with it — for which I got a slap at the back of my head from my eldest sister for uttering such a vile word as deemed by her.

Incidentally, our dinner table at that time sat eight; just perfect for us eight kids who would eat first while my parents, aunts and household help would eat next. My eldest sister was the anointed disciplinarian whom we called Fraulein behind her back. Such moniker was inspired by her Gestapo-like expertise to instill fear and extract information sans the physical torture; even my eldest brother, only a year her junior, would succumb to her authority.

And so it was, at the age of twelve, I started — which according to my aunt — a life of being a less than ideal Catholic. But, unbeknownst to her and me at that time, it marked the beginning of my long arduous journey towards spiritual search and fulfillment.

All those fond memories came back to mind as I sat there in church yesterday during another rainy Sunday morning.


posted by Señor Enrique at 8:02 AM


Blogger Cathy B said...

What a beautiful church and such an interesting blog! I shall add you to my blogmates so that I'll always remember to visit. You write so well!

July 31, 2006 8:19 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its truly one majestic church...It must be one good place to visit and feel the presence of the Lord...

I felt that way too eric about confessing sins to God directly. You see I am not a catholic but I feel mostly that even in prayers, I believe that after reciting the memorized prayers, it should be far better and far more meaningful if I speak silently to God in my own owrds and thoughts, that way He becomes a real person to hold on to and converse with...

July 31, 2006 3:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

eric, this one is for Major Tom... you don't even have to speak silently to God in your "own" thought or words to pray. You could just sit silently with the intention to spend time with Him and just let your thoughts go by without minding them. Just the desire to be with him with no expectation. He would like that since He is talking directly to your "Heart".

And on confession, I once heard a priest say that some people's desire to go to confession frequently for so minor an offense could actually be a sign of neurosis :-), he said that such practice came from the Irish (now i wouldn't really know but that's what he said.) Anyway, i think if you really want healing which is the intent of the sacrament of reconciliation, then you have to go to the root cause (the real "why") you keep on doing an act that you keep confessing to the priest, you address that and things get better otherwise you'll just go back to the cycle which becomes meaningless.
I've come across priests that are very sensitive and could discern what's really wrong and could help you find inner healing... or maybe it is just God's grace...

July 31, 2006 7:01 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Coming from a professional writer, I shall treasure your kind words, Cathy. Thanks much!

Yes, I was really impressed that they have maintained this church so well. It must be on account of some money from its parochial school.

I will also add your site on my link page. Thanks!

July 31, 2006 8:41 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm glad to hear you feel the same way, Major Tom. Like you, I gain a sense of intimacy or oneness, if you will, whenever I converse directly with Him.

And yes ... this is a really nice church; not that big, but really nice. I intend to visit more often for solace and ... they do have an area to light candles! :)

July 31, 2006 8:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Beth!

I like those words you had intended for Major Tom; very comforting, actually. I really do like them :)

I am not knocking down priests in general, but Father Antonio of Espiritu Santo Church had a demeanor that scared most of kids at that time. He was either Spanish or Irish, but nonetheless he seemed easily agitated.

July 31, 2006 8:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second what Cathy said. You do write so well. And I enjoy posts like these about your childhood memories. That dinner table scene is so hilarious. And that's really weird about being baptized twice.

I checked out that picture of lanzones. Yum! That's just one of the foods I miss.

I have talked about reconciliation in my blog but to tell you the truth, I am still uncomfortable telling my sins to the priest. I also think that I could confess my sins to HIM directly.

July 31, 2006 9:32 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You happen to be just as fine if not a better writer yourself, Niceheart, and thank you for your compliment. :)

Actually, I write whatever comes from the heart and as of late, they seem to be memories of my youth. And I'm so glad you enjoy them ... I have more to come ... hehehe. I wanted to expand on my memories about my eldest sister. She may be our Fraulein, but I will write about her soft side as well. I have nothing but respect and love for her.

And I am one of those who gained much from your writings about reconciliation, and honestly speaking, I have more to learn about that subject matter.

Lanzones season seems to come and go way too fast. I love them, though.

July 31, 2006 10:22 PM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Hmm.. tough Ate.

I'm the eldest too which means I have 'kick-ass' authority over my siblings. hehehehe...

August 01, 2006 10:33 AM  

Blogger cecilia said...

Reading your blog brought back memories, I too was a parishoner of Espriritu Santo church, was confirmined, had my first communion and even went to school there (grade school). I haven't been back there for over twenty years, but I had good memories and truly that church is beautiful!!!

January 14, 2007 11:39 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...


My eldest sister attended grade school and I think also high school. It is still well a maintained church. If and when you come home for a visit, you might want to visit this beautiful church.

Thank you for visiting my blog, Cecilia!

January 14, 2007 8:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to ESPS and our class went to confession as a group and take our turns at the confessional. I attended ESPS from 1960 to 1968. I remember there was a Catholic bookstore across the street. I lived in Karapatan Street, which wasn't too far, but far enough that we took a ride on my Uncle's tricycle to school.

October 10, 2007 10:39 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Lya!

That Catholic bookstore is still up and running. That is where my aunt used to buy scapulars to spread in various schools across the island of Luzon.

Not too far from ESPS, the San Lazaro Racetrack is now where SM San Lazaro Mall stands.

October 10, 2007 1:01 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all,
Just to let you know that after all these years never been back to the place where I graduated Elementary (1971), I'm impressed it is still a good looking and tidy building.

emmanuel moral

January 17, 2008 4:43 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Eman,

I think this church is one of the most well-maintained in Manila. It remains to be a beautiful church!

My eldest sister graduated from its parochial school.

Thanks for visiting!

January 17, 2008 7:32 PM  

Blogger buddy said...

Our family used to live near Espiritu Santo. I graduated Grade school from ESPS but transferred to public school for my high school. I got baptism, 1st confession, 1st Holy communion and confirmation there. But the most important thing that ESC gave me is my vocation to the priesthood. I cherished the years that I spent as a mass server there.

May 28, 2008 2:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog just brought up tons of memories for me. I remember my grade school & high school days here (1998-2003) most important part of my life happened at this place (I was baptized here, had my first communion, confirmation, confession, graduated grade school, & got to be with the singing chorale for 3 yrs during my H.S. years)
This is one of the places that I miss the most when I left P.I.
I'm so glad that it's exactly the same. Thank you for writing a blog out of it.
And I am glad to say that I was an ESPIAN too. :)

May 28, 2008 8:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"I got baptism, 1st confession, 1st Holy communion and confirmation there."

I did, too. We lived at that time on Misericordia Street between Batangas and Tayabas Streets.

Thanks for dropping by, Buddy!

May 28, 2008 8:53 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

What a wonderful coincidence -- two ESPIANS posting a comment on the same day!

My pleasure, Gracie! I also had my first communion, confirmation, and confession at this church, including baptism and confirmation!

Thank you for visiting :)

May 28, 2008 8:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos,Senor Enrique! I have always been intrigued by the Espritu Santo facade, turns out it has rich interiors too.

June 14, 2008 7:14 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

This church is truly well-maintained and boasts a beautiful interior.

many thanks, Aram!

June 14, 2008 11:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone tell me how I can get in touch with Espirito Santo Church Staff/Personnel? I need to contact the church for some information. Thank you.

November 21, 2008 6:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'll try to find out for you, Anonymous :)

November 21, 2008 11:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post and comments from other bloggers.

Proud to be an ESPIAN..
Batch of 1998..

Highlights are..
1. First time taking the NEAT Test Exam (SAT)
2. When they decided to put all AIRCONDITIONER equiptment in every class
3. We had the first computer class program (Oh i remember those first Verbatim Square Discs)

I will admit this but the morality and the values that I learned from this school is still in me and will be with me forever!! Proud and thankful for my parents bringing me up in one of the great catholic schools in Manila.

Amazing how the church is prestine and impeccable after all these years.. They really upkeep the quote" Cleanliness is next to Godliness"


- Rico

January 10, 2009 5:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i graduated elem. there and i dnt lyk it.. i thought all the students are nice but wen i studied there i was bullied by everyone.. even the teachers doesn't care about the student being bullied. they even join in bullying me. u have no idea wat kind of memories i have there.. i think public schools are better than esps.

January 12, 2009 11:18 AM  

Blogger Doctor Dalan said...

Been there done that el senor.

Last week just visited Auntie Baby at Diokno near the old Galang hospital where I was born. The old neighborhood, congested, but still recognizeable.

Nieces, nephews, cousins, long ago apart, but not forgotten. Sigh.

Attended Mass at ES, with vendors new outside. Bought my americana wife sampaguita, she loved it. Says she's part of us now. "Comfort room" the same in the back. Gave several pesos, and lit candles.

Light rail tracks covers Riza ave too much.

Not the same any more. You truly can't go back, but can visit home.

Hopia hindi mabili, may amag sa tabe. On the way home, I bought and cherished this pastry, so my cousins, bought me a variety pack to bring home, my favorite is ube.

Espiritu Santo, same as you did, with pictures even, but not quite as memorable as yours.

Thanks for the memories, am glad to share with you.


March 07, 2009 1:35 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pls. someone give me the contact number of the church. i need a copy of my baptismal certificate from them. thanks. i also went to this school from kindergarten til i was in 4th grade. :) thanks again.

March 13, 2009 9:09 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

` .HAii EBRiWHUN ..




June 24, 2009 2:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Manila, Espiritu Santo was where I was baptized and had my 1st communion... I graduated elementary there 1968 or 69? not sure...I stll see my classmates from there till this day..Misericordia is where we lived, it's good to see the church email add is

July 08, 2009 8:43 PM  

Anonymous julzar said...

I never thought that this church where I truly grew up even became more beautiful. I still remember the image of the Holy Spirit if not for that I wouldn't recognize it anymore. This is where I had my first confession, first communion, graduation in grade school & high school plus mass every Sunday.

July 24, 2009 9:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who needed the contact information.

Espiritu Santo Parochial School
Address: 2134 Oroquieta
Tel No(s): 711-1103

I was there last summer to get copies of my baptismal certificate.
They charge a minimal amount and you wait about 10 minutes and you get it. They actually have the original books where they originally wrote the information down. I felt like I stepped back in time. Let's hope they keep backup records on computers.

I attended ESPS from Kindergarten to 5th grade.
I now live in the US and came back to visit after 40 years. The school was in session and the church was closed so I couldn't go inside. It's changed quite a bit. The school is now surrounded by walls.


November 17, 2009 3:55 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this comment is for father albert, i would like to inform u father that some of ur ushers are looks like arrogant to the people sometimes they are abusing their stand as the members of the church, bec they are implementing to discipline people inside the church like being silence for example but u know father ung mga ushers po and mga nangununga sa kwentuhan sa loob ng simbahan madals po nila yan ginagawa, then father napuna lokang din po regarding the upuan specially kapar simbang gabi, mdaming mga tao and maagang gigising para lang makaupo, pero father this is based to my experienced last year nakaupo na kami father maaga kami dumating tapos father pinaalis kami ng ilan sa mga member ng inyong choir i asked them if why then they told me that they reserved that to the members of the family of the choir, father i was surprised bec they come late then tapos kami na nakaupo biglang papalisin para lang makaupo ung mga family nila napaka unfair father di po ba? sana po hwag naman ganon kse ang simbahan po ay para sa lahat at di po pagaari ng members ng church.kase po father ginagamit nila ang pagiging member nila dyan para lang magawa nila nag gusto nila, ska father ang pagimpliment ng kaayusan ng simbahan dapat po nagmumula sa kanilan na nagpapatupad nito pero hindo po ganon ang ginagawa wala pong masama sa pagdidisiplina sa loob ng simbahan kase tama lang po un dahil dpat igalang at respetuhin ang simbahan dahil tahanan po yan ni God, dapat very solemsn sa loob, nakakalungkot lang po kse ung mga ushers ang nangunguna lalo na kapag nagsesermon na kayo father, kapag sila ang naka kita ng maingay hinihiya nila nkita ko po ung ginagawa nila the way that they approach people they are looks like arrogant and ti seems to me that they are proud to tell the people that they have power inside the church. father un lang po ang napbserbahan ko, I know father that u will not tolerate those kind of foolishness of some members of the church and choir i know father that ur intention is good and i am a hundred percent agree to that and that is good father i support u to that and there is nothing worng with that. I just wanna thank u father for the immidiate action to that.
Father thank u very very much and may God Bless u always, and im one of ur avid listeners during the homily father i like ur sermon i've learned a lot to that. Thank u so much father!!!!!

November 30, 2009 2:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the picture. I have very many fond memories of ESPS because I went to grammar and high school there. It was during the time of Msgnr Encarnacion, and the school principal was Sr Encarnacion.

April 11, 2011 12:20 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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