How It All Began:
During the Commonwealth era of the Philippines, President Manuel L. Quezon saw how crowded the City of Manila had become. He dreamt of building a new city where all the branches and offices of the National Government would be located. In one of his trips, he saw the vastness of an empty land situated on a rolling terrain a few hundred feet above the sea level, located between the City of Manila and Marikina Valley. He instructed his Planning Commission to find out how this waterless, unproductive open space and idle land can be put to use. This was a land called the Diliman Estate owned by the Tuason Family, descendants of a Chinese Immigrant trader. He was seemingly awarded this huge tract of land by the Spanish Government.
Land Purchase and Dwelling Construction:
To begin the construction of his dream city, President Quezon created the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation, on October 24, 1938, with Alejandro Roces Sr., as the General Manager. The sum of 386,159.55 Php was paid for the 15, 723, 191 sq. meters of raw land. Construction of low cost houses at 650.00 pesos each began at the area between the creek and the newly built Kamuning Road. The new houses were raffled off to low-ranking government employees and their families. As a early as October 1939 Manila employees with their families coming from the Luzon provincial areas began to move into their newly acquired house. The houses and lots were paid for at a monthly instalment of 8.00 to 9.50 pesos for 10 years.
The Birth of Kamuning:
The place was first called Barrio Obrero II. (Barrio Obrero I then was a reclaimed area or “kankungan” fronting cementerio del norte and the boundary of the City of Manila and Caloocan) Barrio Obrero II was subsequently called “Kamuning“named after a plant called “walis-walisan” which used to abound in the area. At that time there was no public market, no public transportation, no school or church. The pioneer residents known as “the 39ners” decided to organize themselves so that their basic needs including water and electricity could be met. The first Elementary and High School to be erected in Kamuning are now known as the Kamuning Elementary School and the Quezon City High School, respectively.
Request for a Place of Worship:
Residents then had to go to the nearby “Christ the King Seminary” and/or to the “ Quiapo Church” to attend Sunday masses. In the late 1940’s, the Kamuning Residents Association was able to arrange and hold the first mass in their area. The first “open air” mass was celebrated on the Christmas Eve of December 24, 1940 at the rest house of a public park, which is now within the vicinity of K-C and K-4th Streets near the present Kamuning Market.
Everyone at the Christ the King Seminary helped in preparing for this Holy Mass. The Seminarians and the priest brought their portable altar to the site as well as all the necessary paraphernalia needed. Fr. Herman Kondring SVD, then the rector of the CDK Seminary celebrated the mass.
The Birth of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish
Soon the residents felt the great need of a permanent Church building. Inspired and guided by Fr. Theodore (Padre Doro) Buttenbruch SVD, the first parish priest, the residents undertook fundraising campaigns and benefit shows for the construction of the church. On June 1, 1941, His Excellency Msgr. Micheal O’ Dherty, Archbishop of Manila, laid the cornerstone of the new church, which was actually a small chapel on a 6,000 sq. meter lot.
The SHJP was canonically erected with a decree issued by Msgr. O’ Doherty on October 3, 1941, the First Friday of that month. The official name given to the parish was “La Parroquia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus” or The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. This was the first parish that was established in Quezon City, the two others being Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Novaliches (1856) which was then a part of Rizal and the San Pedro Bautista Church in San Francisco del Monte (1932), which was then a part of Manila, in the early 1940’s the parish boundaries reached as far as eastward towards Loyola Heights and westward up to the Mabuhay Rotonda.
The Japanese Occupation:
On December 8, 1941, barely six months after the cornerstone laying of this new church, the Japanese attacked Pearl harbour and the Philippines was at war. From 1942 up to the First Quarter of 1945, the community was faced with a life or death situation.
Life became miserable due to the cruelty and devastation brought about by the Japanese soldiers. Most of the Kamuning residents became unemployed and went back to their home provinces. They came back only when the US Armed Forces returned to the Philippines in the early second quarter of 1945, only to find out that some of their friends and relatives died in the war. What saddened them also was the execution of their beloved Curra Parocco, Padre Doro by the Japanese Army on the charge that he was continuously giving food and medicines to the prisoners of war. Padre Doro met a hero’s death in November 11, 1944.
Church Leaders and Organizations:
Fr. Fr. Johan Simon, SVD took the place of Fr. Doro as parish priest from November 16, 1944 until February, 1946. On March 2, 1946, Fr. Antonio Albrecht SVD took over as the new parish priest. This time our parish started moving again, after the liberation in 1946. Those who have evacuated to the provinces returned and the reactivation of the church organizations were done under the leadership of their respective presidents.
- Catholic Women’s League (May 1941) – Ms. Purificacion de la Paz
- Legion of Mary (February 1943)
- Apostleship of Prayer (March 1949) – Bro. Maximo Mendoza
- Adoracion Nocturna Filipina (November, 1950) – Bro. Maximo Mendoza