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Diocese of Balanga

Dioecesis Balangensis

Diyosesis ng Balanga
Diócesis de Balanga
Coat of arms
Country Philippines
Ecclesiastical provinceSan Fernando
MetropolitanSan Fernando
HeadquartersBalanga, Bataan
Coordinates14°40′45″N 120°32′24″E / 14.6792°N 120.5400°E / 14.6792; 120.5400
Area1,373 km2 (530 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2021)
682,698[1] (80%)
Parishes38 parishes, 5 diocesan shrines, 1 chaplaincy, 1 minor basilica, 1 quasi-parish, 1 chapel
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMarch 17, 1975
CathedralDiocesan Shrine and Cathedral-Parish of St. Joseph
Patron saint
Secular priests58 (33 diocesan and 25 religious priests)
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopFlorentino G. Lavarias
Apostolic AdministratorFlorentino G. Lavarias
Vicar GeneralJosue V. Enero
Diocese of Balanga

The Diocese of Balanga is a Latin Church diocese of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, established on March 17, 1975, by Pope Paul VI. The diocese has jurisdiction over the whole province of Bataan, with 38 parishes, 5 diocesan shrines, one minor basilica, chaplaincy, quasi-parish, national shrine and chapel, and 4 vicariates. It has 11 schools as of 2017, with 10 are operated by the diocese's Diocesan Schools of Bataan (DSOB) under its superintendent Fr. Roy Guila. The Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral-Parish of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary in Aguire Street, Poblacion, Balanga, serves as the seat of the diocese. It is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of San Fernando, Pampanga.

The titular patron of the Diocese of Balanga is Saint Joseph, whose feast day falls on March 19. The city fiesta is celebrated on April 28.

The diocese became vacant when Bishop Ruperto Santos, who served as fourth bishop of Balanga for 13 years, 3 months, and 21 days from April 1, 2010, as bishop-elect from April to July 8, 2010, and installed bishop of Balanga from July 2010 to July 22, 2023, where he succeeded Socrates Villegas as the diocese's bishop, became bishop of Antipolo on July 2023 covering the province of Rizal and the city of Marikina in Metro Manila. Pope Francis then appointed Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga Florentino Lavarias as the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese while awaiting for the installation of Santos' successor as bishop of Balanga.

Coat of arms of Bishop Ruperto Santos that was displayed on the cathedra of Balanga Cathedral from July 8, 2010, to July 22, 2023, when he was installed as Bishop of Balanga on the said date of July 2010.


The Diocese of Balanga was established on March 17, 1975, from the territory of Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, by Pope Paul VI through the papal bull Quoniam Recte Universum. It comprises the entire civil province of Bataan, the smallest among the provinces of Central Luzon. The province is a peninsula jutting out to sea, with Manila Bay to the east, South China Sea to the west, and the province of Zambales to the north. Only 1 of the 15 priests of the diocese was a native of Bataan upon the diocese's founding in 1975.

Before this, the region was divided into two parts: the Corregimiento of Mariveles and the Province of Pampanga. The towns of Mariveles, Bagac, Morong and Maragondon, Cavite, comprised the Corregimiento of Mariveles that was under the jurisdiction of the Recollect Order. The province of Pampanga included the towns of Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay, Samal, Orani, Llana Hermosa and San Juan de Dinalupihan. The latter group was under the charge of the Dominican Order. Limay, the twelfth town of Bataan, was named only in 1917.

The topography of the province has made most of the inhabitants farmers or fishermen, with a sprinkling of merchants, factory workers and professionals. Recent years, however, have seen the development of manufacturing industries in the province, particularly the Free Zone in Mariveles which has brought an influx of workers from other provinces and improved living conditions of its own workers.

Historically, Bataan is most remembered, along with the island of Corregidor, as the main scene of action in the Philippines during the Second World War. These places are strategic in guarding the entrance to Manila Bay. The surrender of Filipino and American soldiers to overwhelming Japanese forces marked the Fall of Bataan in 1942. A war memorial, Dambana ng Kagitingan, now stands to honor the men who fought and died in that last stand.

During the 23-year tenure of Bishop Celso Guevarra, the diocese has continuously spread its branches far and wide. The number of parishes increased from 13 to 25. In each of these parishes, one can find many concerned, committed and generous lay leaders. Together with their parish priests, not only have they renovated and/or totally rebuilt their parish churches and convents but are actively responding to the never-ending demands of evangelization. The major diocesan commissions, which have been established, introduced new and various apostolates in the diocese and in the parishes.

The inspiring words and assuring presence of Honesto Ongtioco, who succeeded Bishop Celso, guided the young diocese as it celebrated its 25th anniversary and as it responded to the call of Pope John Paul II at the beginning of the third millennium, “Duc in Altum.” His kindness and charity allowed the various branches of the diocesan tree to grow in different directions in pursuit of his plan to convoke a Diocesan Pastoral Assembly. However, God has other and better plans both for Bishop Ongtioco and the diocese of Balanga. Bishop Ongtioco has just laid the foundation for the realization of his vision when he was installed to lead the new Diocese of Cubao in Quezon City on August 28, 2003.

During the tenure of Socrates Villegas as the diocese's third bishop in 2004, the annual celebration Mt. Samat Pilgrimage, held on November or December of the year, was started. It has the theme song titled "Bataan: Bayani at Banal" written by Villegas and music by Ryan Cayabyab.

On December 8, 2008, Clinica Diocesano de San Jose, the diocese's clinic, was founded which is a weekly medical and dental mission for the poor people of Bataan.

The diocese will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2025. Its logo was unveiled on a celebration of the diocese's 48th canonical erection anniversary and Dedication of Saint Joseph Cathedral celebrated by its bishop Ruperto Santos and Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga Florentino Lavarias.

When Bishop Ruperto Santos became Bishop of Antipolo on July 22, 2023, which ended his 13 years, 3 months, and 21 days tenure as the diocese's fourth bishop, Bataan was temporarily returned to the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of San Fernando after 48 years and 8 months through the apostolic administration of its archbishop Florentino Lavarias which will last until the installation of Santos' successor as Bishop of Balanga.

Diocesan coat-of-arms

The miter symbolizes the pastoral authority of a bishop, which he will be exercising within the diocese's jurisdiction which is the entire province of Bataan.

The three long-stemmed lilies, symbols of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of the cathedral. According to Myth the staves of the many suitors of the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the temple; the staff of Joseph bloomed to signify that he was the one chosen by God to be the head of the Holy Family. Blue signifies peace, justice and tranquility. Joseph was called "just" by the Gospel. He was a placid and silent man, too.[2]

The three youths reading books. Bataan, the civil province co-terminus with the Diocese, means the Land of the Youth, the hope of the Fatherland. The books being read by each are respectively marked VIA, meaning Christ The Way; VERITAS, meaning Christ The Truth; and VITA, meaning Christ The Life. Overhead is the golden sun with the letters IHS, meaning Jesus. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5). He is the "real light that comes into the world and shines on all men" (John 1:9). He is the Lamb, the lamp of the Celestial Jerusalem (Revelation 21:23), the Sun of Justice (Malachi 4:2). He also said, "I am The Way, I am The Truth, I am The Life" (John 14:6). So in the light of Christ that is explained by the church, we must study and follow and live Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. This study entails seriousness, this following of Christ means patience, this living of Christ requires perseverance—virtues signified by the red color.[3]

50th Anniversary coat of arms

The coat of arms for the diocese's 50th anniversary also has a miter which symbolizes the bishop's pastoral authority which will be exercising within the province of Bataan and three-stemmed lilies which is the symbol of Saint Joseph.

The three red crosses symbolizes the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit), four small crosses inside a circle symbolizing the four former bishops of the diocese (Bishops Celso Guevarra, Honesto Ongtioco, Socrates Villegas, and Ruperto Santos), seven red and blue lines signifies the 7 sacraments of the Catholic Church, symbols of Dominican and Augustinian orders at the left and right side of the miter indicating that they are the missionaries who went to the province in order to teach the faith, with Dominicans built the churches of Abucay, Samal, Balanga, Orani, Pilar, Hermosa, and Orion, while the Augustinians built the Morong, Bagac, and Mariveles church. The number 50 and the years 1975 and 2025 represents the 50th anniversary of the diocese, with 1975 indicate the diocese's founding and 2025 for its 50th year. At the lower left is the letter "M" symbol (which is also used on the coat of arms of Bishop Ruperto Santos as Bishop of Balanga) symbolizing Virgin Mary serving as the diocese's and province's patroness under the name of Virgen Milagrosa de Orani and showing the devotion of the Bataan people to her. At the right is the map of Bataan from which the diocese has jurisdiction and authority with. At the bottom is a golden banner which has the text "Magtipon (Gather), Maglakbay (Travel), at Maghasik (Sow)" which are the theme for its 50th anniversary. "The daughters of kings, women of honor, are maidens in your courts. And standing beside you, glistening in your pure and golden glory, is the beautiful bride-to-be!" comes from Psalms 45, the word of God which is a guide for the celebration of 50 years of the diocese.[4]


Bishops and sede vacante administrators

Bishops of Balanga

Image Name Appointed Positions while serving as bishop-elect and before being installed as Bishop of Balanga Installed Period in Position (Bishop-elect and Installed Bishop of Balanga) Length Coat of arms
Celso Nogoy Guevarra June 4, 1975 Titular Bishop of Vannida November 8, 1975 June 4, 1975 – June 18, 1998 23 years, 14 days (8415 days)
Honesto Flores Ongtioco April 8, 1998 Priest of Archdiocese of San Fernando June 18, 1998 April 8, 1998 – August 28, 2003 5 years, 4 months, 20 days (1968 days)
Socrates Buenaventura Villegas May 3, 2004 Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Rector of EDSA Shrine
July 3, 2004 May 3, 2004 – November 4, 2009 5 years, 6 months, 1 day (2011 days)
Ruperto Cruz Santos April 1, 2010 Priest of Archdiocese of Manila
Rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino
July 8, 2010 April 1, 2010 – July 22, 2023 13 years, 3 months, 21 days (4860 days)

Sede vacante administrators

Name Preceding Installed Bishop Succeeding Installed Bishop Length Age at start and end of tenure or term as sede vacante administrator
Antonio "Tony" S. Dumaual — died July 21, 2023 Honesto Flores Ongtioco (August 28, 2003) Socrates Buenaventura Villegas (July 3, 2004) 10 months, 5 days (310 days) 61 years, 6 months, 23 days / 62 years, 4 months, 28 days
Victor de la Cruz Ocampo (later Bishop of Gumaca, Quezon) — died March 16, 2023 Socrates Buenaventura Villegas (November 4, 2009) Ruperto Cruz Santos (July 8, 2010) 8 months, 4 days (246 days) 57 years, 7 months, 19 days / 58 years, 3 months, 22 days
Florentino Galang Lavarias (Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga) Ruperto Cruz Santos (July 22, 2023) TBA 66 years, 4 months, 8 days /


By period in position, and death, wake and funeral

Florentino LavariasRuperto SantosVictor OcampoSocrates VillegasHonesto Ongtioco

With timeline of popes

Florentino LavariasRuperto SantosVictor OcampoSocrates VillegasHonesto OngtiocoPope FrancisPope Benedict XVIPope John Paul IIPope John Paul IPope Paul VI

By lifespan

Florentino LavariasRuperto SantosVictor OcampoSocrates VillegasHonesto Ongtioco
With popes' lifespan
Florentino LavariasRuperto SantosVictor OcampoSocrates VillegasHonesto OngtiocoPope FrancisPope Benedict XVIPope John Paul IIPope John Paul IPope Paul VI

Priests of the diocese who became bishops

See also


  1. ^ "Balanga (Catholic Diocese)". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  2. ^ Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine COAT OF ARMS of Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.Bishop of Balanga paragraph 4
  3. ^ Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine COAT OF ARMS of Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D. Bishop of Balanga paragraph 5
  4. ^ Roman Catholic Diocese of Balanga on Facebook

14°40′45″N 120°32′24″E / 14.6792°N 120.5400°E / 14.6792; 120.5400