Note: This is a concise history of Guinarona from The Archdiocese of Palo website. We have edited it for grammar and clarity and inserted some annotations where appropriate.
SAN PASCUAL BAYLON PARISH
GUINARONA, DAGAMI, LEYTE
Patron Saint: San Pascual Baylon
Feast Day: May 16-17
Vicariate of: Burauen
Late in the 18th century the Spanish conquistadores, in an effort to link settlements and spread Christianity, built roads and bridges crossing the interior towns of the province. “Karwahes” were then used as the only means of transportation. These trips by karwahe were by no means easy nor convenient for the travelers. They were forced to stop at a place between trips for the animals to rest and the passengers to place their morals. The place was the beautiful settlement of Guinarona.
Founded in 1872, this progressive community once belonged to Burauen, but Dagami had a former claim on it. (Barrio Lunayan was its name, apparently alluding to the Guinarona river, which, then as now, was a swimming hole for water buffaloes.) In the dispute that followed over the boundary, the barrio was ceded to Dagami, thereby getting its name “Guina-aro-na” (which literally means “has been asked”) in a dialect or simply Guinarona.
During the entire Spanish period and half of the 20th century Guinarona was dependent on Dagami for its socio-economic, political and religious needs. The Burauen and Dagami parishes respectively provided the spiritual needs of Guinarona until its creation as a parish. In 1967, Guinarona became a parish and a new church was built through the efforts of Msgr. Esteban Justimbaste, himself a native of Guinarona.
He undertook the task of providing its own church for two reasons: First, he believed that the barrio was ready enough to manage its own church and the second reason was to put a stop to the developing controversy regarding private worship practiced by some of the barrio residents. The practice was held at a certain private house with the image of San Pascual Baylon being venerated. (So it was the Monsignor who initiated the “confiscation” of the San Pascual Baylon image from the barrio people. In light of the image’s disappearance in June 2010–it has not been returned up to this writing–the correct wisdom was still the people’s.)
The question on private worship resulted to fights among its native residents. With this ensuing conduct the provincial government decided to take a hand over the issue, and placed the image in the provincial capitol in Tacloban. The people flocked to the capitol to venerate the saint which at that period was very popular. With the efforts of Msgr. Esteban Justimbaste, the image was finally transferred to its final home. The newly erected church in Guinarona and the parish was officially put under the protection of San Pascual Baylon. The parish became a favorite place for pilgrims. Owing to the reports of miracles performed by the saint, people coming from far off places and as well as from neighboring towns flocked to the parish. The first parish priest was Fr. Marcial A. Dira.
In 1983 during the term of Fr. Vicente Purgatorio, an Angelicum building was built in the parish. The project was founded by the archdiocesan chancery and the only one existing of its kind in the whole Vicariate VIII.
In June 1985 under the term of Fr. Victor Pore the Angelecum building became operational. The building consists of two rooms each having capacity of 15. The project acts as a preparatory stage in the education of young boys and girls with emphasis in writing, recognition of letters, and prayers. The project also serves as a catechetical preparation for the young children in the parish. The project has been a complete success.
A much newer project is being undertaken by the parish under the initiative of the incumbent parish priest, Fr. Victor Pore. The church which was built under Msgr. Justembaste is undergoing a major reconstruction and repair. The funds used for the project comes from some generous donors and various solicitations.