History

St. Anthony of Padua Parish
Kiamba, Sarangani Province
Erected: 1956
Patron: St. Anthony of Padua
Feast Day: June 13
Population: 45,818, Catholics: 35,581


The name Kiamba originates from the name of a creek which is located at the eastern foot of the Bacud Point, west of Kiamba proper. This creek was said to have been named after Datu Kiamba, a famous T'boli chieftain. The former name of the region was Kitages. Kiamba then consisted of two separate Muslim settlements with their own ruling datus: Kraan in the West with Datu Bodin as chieftain and Kling in the East with Datu Dani as chieftain.

In March 9, 1920, the first Christian settlers came aboard the steamship Tablas to Kiamba. Words of good fortune and rich, fertile soil of the place quickly spread to the thickly populated Ilocano provinces in Luzon, so that other settlers - the batch of Crisanto Hidalgo of San Francisco, La Union - followed. In 1921, the Muslim leaders in the area changed with the death of Datu Bodin and Datu Dani. Datu Bodin was succeeded by his brother, Datu Obpon, and Dani by his grandson, Datu Mangegken. Later, these leaderships were merged into one when Pandita Mobabpil, religious adviser of both, succeeded them.

Meanwhile, more Christian settlers arrived. In 1924, Jose Mal¬lari and his group came. In 1926, fiber inspector Tomas Falgui with his partner, Narciso Mondragon, came over from Davao and established the Kiamba Development Company. Visayan settlers also arrived and found work in the Kling Plantation. Life for the early Christian settlers was not all milk and honey. The rich and fertile land could only be conquered with so much hard work. It was a struggle against malaria, the conquest of the tropical forest, isolation from the rest of the outside world, loneliness and death.

Being farthest in the south and owing to the difficulty in transportation, Jesuit priests from Zamboanga diocese rarely came. Then in the year 1939, the OMI Fathers began to visit Kiamba regularly and one of them was Fr. Boyd. Kiamba then was under the Diocese of Zamboanga which comprised the southern Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago.

In 1950, when Cotabato was separated from the diocese of Zamboanga and was established into a Prelature, Kiamba came under the Prelature of Cotabato. In 1956, the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua was created and its first parish priest was Fr. Crisogono Echavez, OMI. He served for three years and during his last year as parish priest, the Passionist Fathers came and visited the place in 1958.

The Passionist Fathers began to serve Kiamba in 1959 with Fr. Albinus Lesch, CP as parish priest. For three years, Fr. Albinus struggled heroically to care for his parishioners spread out in the isolated areas (from Maitum to Maasim). He was followed in 1962 by Fr. Eugene Leso, CP. Fr. Eugene is known as the "Great Builder of Kiamba" because of the many constructions that were built during his time: the present parish church, convento, Notre Dame of Kiamba, and the parish center. He even managed to build a convento and a beginning of a school in far-away Maasim (which that time was part of Kiamba Parish).

The Passionists stayed in Kiamba for sixteen 16 years. Then, the parish was turned over to the Diocesan Clergy in 1975 with Fr. Joe-An Paez as Parish Priest.

Later developments

The two-storey parish dormitory was constructed during the time of Fr. Floro Lifigio in 1980. The parish seminar house was built during the time of Fr. Francisco Bajos in 1995. Fr. “Iko” also caused the construction of the concrete fencing of the parish compound.

The St. Anthony de Padua Learning Center for pre-school children was established by the CWL of the parish in 1995 with the approval and support of Fr. Jose Legaria the parish priest that time.

In 2003, Fr. Rosalio Munasque, the parish priest of Kiamba at that time, met a tragic death by vehicular accident in General Santos City. He was succeeded by Fr. Jaime Apolinares.

In 2010, during the time of Fr. Alexander Salas, a major face-lifting of the parish convento and the parish office took place. Fr. Alex also undertook the construction of a new and modern seminar house which was continued by Fr. Greto Bugas as the acting parish priest. Fr. Greto also gave more attention to the pastoral ministry and social action by introducing organic farming in collaboration with the municipal government of Kiamba.

Kiamba celebrated its Golden Jubilee as a parish in 2006.

The present population of the parish is about 46,000 of which about 36,000 are Catholics.

The parish has 19 GKKs, 34 catechists, 18 family and life workers, 52 laycos, 36 lay eucharistic ministers, 36 lay liturgists, and 36 altar servers, but no KRISKA, and no youth leaders.

Other groups in the parish are the KC, CWL, Legion of Mary, Lay Vocation Promoters, CFC, and PREX.

The social action programs of the parish are yet to be organized.

PRIESTS ASSIGNED IN KIAMBA:

1. Fr. Crisogono Eschavez, OMI – 1956-1959
2. Fr. Albinus Lesch, C.P. – 1959-1962
3. Fr. Eugene Leso, C.P. – 1962
4. Fr. Barry Ward, C.P. – 1968
5. Fr. Hyacinth Welka, C.P. – 1968
6. Fr. Antonio Magbanua – 1972-1973
7. Fr. Justin Garvey, C.P. – 1973-1974
8. Fr. Gabriel Baldostamon, C.P. – 1974-1975
9. Fr. Joe-An Paez – 1975-1976
10. Fr. Fortunato Ferolino – 1976-
11. Fr. Jesus Villagante – 1977-1979
12. Fr. Rolando Japitana – 1979-1981
13. Fr. Max Saldua – 1981
14. Fr. Joel Otarra – 1982
15. Fr. Renato Cruz – 1982-1983
16. Fr. Floro Litigio – 1983-1986
17. Fr. Daniel Laglagaron – 1986-1989
18. Fr. Jimmy Faustino – 1990-1991
19. Fr. Francisco Bajos – 1991-1994
20. Fr. Jose Legaria – 1994-1997
21. Fr. Romald Plomillo – 1998
22. Fr. Freddie Paulo – 1998-2000
23. Fr. Rosalio MuĊˆasque – 2000-2003
24. Fr. Jaime Apolinares – 2003-2004
25. Fr. Rafael Cabrido – 2004-2006
26. Fr. Ricky Emboltorio – 2006-2007
27. Fr. Alexander Salas – 2007-2010
28. Fr. Greto Bugas – Actg. PP – 2008-2009
29. Fr. Antonio Chua – 2010-2013
30. Fr. Jonathan Sarcon - 2013-2016

Sources:

History of the Diocese of Marbel, “Parishes”, on File 1985.
History of Kiamba Parish 1956-2011, on Parish File
Cotabato 1952, “Kiamba”, by Felipe M. Domantay