Our Lady of Sorrows Parish
Our Lady of Sorrows Parish

Prior to its being a separate parish, the town or, rather, the barrio of Holoyaw (Ronda's former name) was just a visita of neighboring Dumanjug. Being just a barrio of a bigger territory meant that it did not deserve to be named a parish by the diocese then. Unlike today, barrios during the time of the Spaniards were not qualified to become parishes. As already mentioned above, there were even towns that did not deserve such title. The status of a visita could be quite similar to the situation of a mountain barangay of a contemporary parish where the parish priest would visit only once a week, sometimes even once a month, to say Mass.

There was, however, a more plausible reason to explain why Ronda did not immediately get the nod of the bishop to become a parish. Contrary to common speculation, the delay in becoming a parish had nothing to do with Ronda's non-municipality status. It was even the practice in the past that a community first became a parish before it became a municipality.

Rather, the main reason had something to do with the small population Ronda had during the nineteenth century. According to one demographer, Ronda's population in the year 1918 was only 6, 754. With such figure, one could just imagine how few were the inhabitants of the place a century earlier. Such smallness surely did not impress the Spanish authorities who were expecting a lot from the people in terms of tributes. An accounting for souls was, in fact, required during those days to determine just how much was to be collected from the parishioners.

Being a small pueblo, Ronda was an easier task for tribute collectors who exacted from the parishioners what was due from them. The cabeza de barangay in the person of Holoyaw's chief or, later, of Ronda's governadorcillo no doubt religiously did each of their duties in collecting the tributes and in submitting the same to the Spanish authorities. Thus, in a quaint but subtle manner, the real intentions of the Spanish friars became rather more evident—that is, the more souls to take care of, the heavier would be the coffers of the tribute collectors.

Years before the parish of Ronda was established, a survey was made to determine the town's capability to stand as a separate entity, independent from its mother parish—that is, Dumanjug. Three priests initiated such survey namely, Father Melgar, Father Biundo and Father Gildo Villa.92 (No records are available to show the first names of Fathers Melgar and Biundo.) 

Based on official church documents, the parish came into being on June 17, 1881 after its famous separation from the bigger parish of Dumanjug. This would point to the fact that as of the year 2009 the parish is only one hundred twenty seven years old, a relatively young organization when compared to the older parishes both in the northern and the southern towns of Cebu. 

The church was originally dedicated to the Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria, but somehow this was replaced by the Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, another appellation of the Blessed Mother. The original provisional church was made mostly of wood with cogon roofing but this has long been destroyed. A more permanent one was made in the mid 20th century but alas, the earth seemed to move underneath the structure. Cracks appeared on the walls, most notably behind the altar. A reconstruction was therefore ordered, and the church now stands on an expansive ground with no other structures blocking its frontage that faces a wide green plaza with an old acacia tree. 

The town's first parish priest was Rev. Fr. Ceferino Montecillo, whose term of service began in the year 1881 and ended six years later in 1887. He was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Matias Lucero Y Cabrera, who served from 1888 to 1897, or one year before the Spaniards gave up the Philippines in favor of the Americans.

Based on existing records available in the parish, the following priests were assigned in the parish within the fifteen-year period: Rev. Fr. Anastacio del Corro (1898-99), Rev. Fr. Angel Tabotabo (1899-1900), Rev. Fr. Cecilio Sanchez (1900-1905), Rev. Fr. Vidal Causin (1906), Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Villamor (1906-1909), and Rev. Fr. Basilio Navares (1910-1920).

*Sources: Balaanong Bahandi and The History of Ronda

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