El Viejo de Miag-ao

El Viejo de Miag-ao

Father Francisco Perez, O.S.A.

Father Perez was often called the “Óld Man of Miag-ao” for serving the longest term as parish priest of Miag-ao Church from 1829 to 1864.  Born in Orense, Spain in 1778, Francisco Perez begun his studies for the priesthood but had to join the Spanish Army of Catalonia in the War with France which started in 1793.  When the war ended in 1795, he went to the Augustinian College in Valladolid and became a priest in 1803 at the age of 25.  The following year he arrived in Mexico and boarded the Manila Galleon bound for the Philippines from Acapulco.

Father Francisco Perez traveling halfway around the world to find his mission in Panay

He became the parish priest of Sibalom, Antique, then San Joaquin, Iloilo, then Dumalag, Capiz, then Dumangas, Iloilo.  Finally, his last parish at the age of 51 was Miag-ao, Iloilo where he stayed for 35 years (1829-1864).  Because of the continued Muslim invasions of Panay and Guimaras, he trained the people of Miag-ao to fight like soldiers and sailors.  Father Francisco also built his own naval fleet using native war boats to repel at least 6 invasions.  When the Navy Minister of France sent a French squadron to conquer Panay, Father Perz, with his fleet of war boats, dissuaded the French from landing and chased them all the way to Tayabas in Luzon. Father Perez was also credited with bringing the Spanish loom (teral) to Miag-ao from Mexico.  This enabled him to have a thriving patadyong cloth production in Miaga-ao that employed thousands of people with 4,000 looms.  In his 35 years, he began farming of wheat, sugar.  He built a convent, a school for boys and girls, a cemetery, bridges (8 stone bridges) and roadways.  The Parish of Miag-ao thrived with its “37,326 souls.”