It used to be that Masantol was just a barrio of Macabebe that counted only 4 puroks in its district—Bebe, Nigui, Kaingin and Bulacus. On 26 June 1877, Gregorio Bautista, Juan Lacap and Manuel Fajardo called for a separation of the said puroks from Macabebe. This was soon granted by a government decree (with a little help they say, from Fajardo, who presented two white steeds to the approving officials!) and so, on 20 March 1878, Masantol was separated from Macabebe. Two months later, the town was inaugurated as San Miguel de Masantol.
In 1886, it was the parishioners’ turn to lobby for the independence of their parish, a request granted by the governor general on 13 January 1894. The town’s pintakasi (patron saint) is San Miguel de Arcangel and his image can be found in the church erected in the last part of the 19th century by parish priests from Macabebe. The church, done in Renaissance style, was finished in 1901, during the term of Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda. The first parish priest is P. Jose C. Mariano.
The façade of the church shows eclectic architectural forms, from the tapering arches of the semi-circular entrance door, the linear windows of the bell tower, lattice work on the windows to the Doric columns propping the belfry. There are scroll-like flourishes above doors and windows and the canopy features a balustrade.
In 1927, during the term of Fr. Teodoro Tantengco, a new casa parroquial or convento was built to serve as residence for the parish priest and for other social purposes. Five years later, in 1932, during Msgr. Bartolome Zabala’s stay, the church was refurbished inside and out, and the churchyard was cemented and defined. In the 1980s, the church was further reinforced with cement and steel.
Masantol holds the distinction of being the first town visited by Pampanga’s patroness, Virgen de los Remedios, in the days of the Cruzada de Caridad, which was organized by the 1st Bishop of San Fernando, His Excellency Cesar Ma. Guerrero. This was on 15 April 1952. To mark this event, the portrait of the Virgin was installed on the patio of the church.
(28 June 2003)