The Life and Work of Padre Domingo Carceller, Agustino Recoleto
by Ferdinand M. Bautista, Music Literature Department, UST Conservatory of Music
Domingo Carceller Y Galindo was born on 22 December 1894 in Forcall (Castellon dela Plana) Spain. Out of eight children born to his parents, Don Joaquin Carceller and Dona Manuela Galindo, seven became members of various religious orders. In other words, except for his eldest brother Joaquin Jr. who got married, all his five brothers (Jaime, Jose, Manuel, Pedro and Francisco) became priests like himself, while his only sister Monica became a nun. Fr. Carceller attended the Colegio de San Millan from 1907 to 1911. He made his Religious Profession on 6 September 1912. Seven years after, he was ordained priest on 14 June 1919 at the age of 25. It was at the Colegio de San Millan where he was able to study music theory and piano with a certain Padre Paciente Corral as mentor.
Fr. Carceller arrived in the Philippines in October of 1920, a year after his ordination. Upon his arrival, he stayed temporarily at the convent of San Nicholas de Tolentino within the walls of Intramuros. Shortly after, he was assigned to the Convento de San Sebastian where he studied Tagalog extensively and intensively for 2 years. On 19 February 1922 he was scheduled to be transferred to the Church of San Juan Nepomuceno in Bolbok, Batangas. But for some reasons, the assignment was changed to Calapan, Mindoro where he would serve as parish priest until June 1928. In an article entitled “Querido de Dios y de los Hombres”, which was published in the Boletin dela Provincia de San Nicolas Tolentino Orden Agustinos Recoletos, Padre Gregorio Armas wrote that the convent in Calapan, Mindoro was open to all. Whether they were Hindus, Chinese or even Freemasons they were equally welcome at the convent and were all considered friends of Fr. Carceller. He was thus probably one of the earliest exponents of ecumenism. After his work in the parish, Fr. Carceller would be seen walking at the pier followed by children “Pied-Piper” style. He would give each of these kids tiny medals and whenever he would run out of supply, he would promise them that more would be coming “when the ship arrives…” The children easily warmed up to Fr. Carceller because of his ready smile and calming voice. It was also in Calapan where Fr. Carceller organized a group of young ladies who were to be in the service of the Church. These young ladies would be made to wear white dresses with long sleeves. Fr. Carceller asked Monsignor Alfredo Versoza, the Bishop of Lipa, for official permission to form the group and it was duly authorized. Later becoming two hundred-strong, the members of the group called themselves the Hijas de Maria.
On 22 June 1928, as per the instructions of the Recollect Provincial Superior, Fr. Carceller was informed of his new post: the Parish of San Juan Nepomuceno in Bolbok, Batangas. When the Calapenos heard about this, they quickly gathered the signatures of their townsfolk which were all appended to their request for the permanent assignment of Fr. Carceller in Calapan. This was addressed to the Superior of the Order as well as to the bishop. However their pleas fell on deaf ears as within a month Fr. Carceller was still transferred to San Juan Bolbok.
San Juan Nepomuceno Church, Bolbok, Batangas.
The Church of San Juan Nepomuceno was formerly situated near the coastline. It was constructed under its first secular parish priest Padre Damaso Mojica in the year 1843. Because of frequent flooding at the said location, it was ordered by a Superior decree issued in 1855, to be transferred to a place that was not prone to flooding. This was done when the church came under the management of the Augustinian Recollect Order. The construction was begun in 1890 under the joint aegis of Fr. Victor Lopez, OAR and the Gobernadorcillo of the time, Benedicto de Villa. Four years later it was inaugurated during the term of Fr. Celestino Yoldi, OAR as parish priest.
I have gone to the church of San Juan myself to examine the parish records which may shed light on Fr. Carceller’s activities while he was there. The opportunity came when in June of last year I was asked to join a pilgrimage to parishes formerly held by the Recollects in Laguna and Batangas. The invitation was extended by Fr. Emil Quilatan who was as that time the archivist-historian of the Augustinian Recollect Order.
According to Fr. Quilatan, the Parish of San Juan is of sentimental value to the Recollects because it was here where the members of the Order felt especially loved by the townspeople, contrary to the popular belief that the priests in the Spanish Era were all prototypes of the infamous friar characters of Dr. Jose Rizal. Fr. Quilatan added that similar to the signature-gathering incident in Calapan where the townsfolk petitioned for the permanent assignment of Fr. Carceller in their town, the citizens of San Juan also addressed a similar request to higher authorities. The historical marker at the Church pays tribute to Fr. Carceller’s special contribution: the construction of the Church belfry. My research involved scrutinizing the four parish notebooks, namely the Libro de Bautismo, the Libro de Gasto, the Misas recibidas and the copy of the Cartas Circular where I saw the first signature of Fr. Carceller as parish priest there, which is dated December 1928. Also to be found inside the Church of San Juan is the harmonium which according to the townsfolk, had belonged to Fr. Carceller. This is now located in the choirloft and is in utter disrepair.
I also tried to look for senior citizens who may have known Fr. Carceller in their youth so that I could interview them. The Parish office staff gave me the name of Rosing Cueto, but unfortunately, when I was there, Ms. Cueto was vacationing in her brother’s house in Quezon City. Fortunately though the Church staff was able to give me her telephone number in Quezon City so I was still able to interview her by phone. I asked Ms. Cueto what she remembered most about Fr. Carceller. She said that she was still very young then and was a member of the Hijas de Maria whom she described as “young ladies in white”. She said that Fr. Carceller was very kind and was always smiling. He was well-loved by the people of San Juan. He was not very tall. And she recalls that he spoke Tagalog with uncommon fluency. Ms. Cueto also added that she still remembered Fr. Carceller’s Ave Maria which their group used to sing at weddings and Venid, Venid Jesus a Consolarme, which they sang during communion.
In 1935 P.Carceller was appointed as Presidente of the church and convent of San Sebastian in Manila and thus had to leave his parish in San Juan Batangas. In the Libro de gasto, his last signature is dated May1935. By the following month it is already the signature of the new parish priest, Padre Ruperto Blas, that appears in the said register.
San Sebastian Church
From the missions it was a new challenge that P. Carceller faced as Presidente of the Church and convent of San Sebastian which was located then as it is today on Calle del Carmen Quiapo, Manila. The original Church of San Sebastian was built by the Recollects in 1611, the same year the Colegio de Santo Tomas was established in Intramuros. Because it was frequently ravaged by earthquake, the Recollects decided to build a Church that could withstand such calamities to a greater extent. It was Genaro Palacios, a Spanish national residing in the Philippines at that time, who designed the unique Church whose walls were made of steel. Palacio’s design was sent to Belgium; the structure was constructed there and was later shipped to Manila. Thus the only church made of steel in the Philippines was inaugurated on 16 August, the feast day of St. Roche. Although named after San Sebastian, martyr and patron of Athletes; it was in this Church that the image of Nuestra Senora del Carmen was enshrined. One of the major festivities for Manilenos at that time was the feast of the Virgen del Carmen (which was then celebrated on the 29 January, now on July 16 in the revised Roman Calendar) which for many signaled the end of the cold season. The first day of the Del Carmen Novena was set on 20 January which also coincided with the feast of San Sebastian. Many attended on the first day as well as on the other days which culminated in a procession of the 29th of January, the feast day of Del Carmen where there would be a Misa Mayor which was accompanied by an orchestra. In the evening after the procession there was a band concert at the Plaza followed by a grand fireworks display while the Manilenos savored the last days of the cool season. Ironically, according to the national artist Nick Joaquin, these fireworks on the feast of San Sebastian were mistaken as a signal for the start of a Coup d ‘etat in Cavite in 1897. The day after the feast, Manila was in disarray as the revolutionary priests and the Creoles were arrested.
THE XXXIII Eucharistic Congress and the first publication of the Coleccion.
Very little has been written about Fr. Carceller’s activities in San Sebastian, except for his last days there. But in the year 1937 the first collection of his works which was entitled Coleccion de Canticos Sagrados por el Padre Domingo Carceller was printed. The publication was concurrent with the XXXIII Congreso Eucaristico Internacional held in Manila in February 1937. In connection with the congress, a search for its official hymn was launched and Fr. Carceller’s entry entitled “Gloria a Jesus” won first place. The lyricist was Emeterio Barcelon, a member of the Third Order of the Carmelites. As first time host to an international gathering of this nature, the Filipinos threw themselves into a frenzy in preparation for the said event. In fact according to some documents in the UST Archives, the preparations began as early as a year before the congress. As if in rehearsal, four years earlier, from December 11-15 1929, the 1st National Eucharistic Congress of the Philippines had been held, where in turn the winning Himno Oficial was the entry of the famous composer Dr. Francisco Santiago with lyrics by Fr. Jose Fernandez, C.M.
Another document which I found in the Archives was the “Sub-committee report on (secular) music” which was submitted by Ramon Tapales, one of the congress officials on August 7, 1936. Here the activities that are musical by nature as well as the corresponding expenses were listed in detail. According to the said document, there was even a “Papal Band” with some 200 members. Their uniform bore the insignia of the Pope. Aside from the papal band there was also the Army and Navy band, consisting of Phil. Army band, US Army and Navy bands and the U.P. ROTC band with the total membership of 450. They were to meet the Pope’s representative at the “New Luneta” as well as to play wherever else they may be needed. There was also to have been a “concerto sacro” at the Luneta on all the days of the congress where some 300 musicians with the Philippine Cultural Concert Society Symphony Orchestra (P.C.C.S.O) were to perform. The P.C.C.S.O. was a conglomerate of the different orchestras in Manila “which have the desire to cooperate fully for the success of this world event and for the benefit of all Catholics.” Together with this orchestra a 1,000 strong chorus was organized. Aside from this there were radio concerts honoring the Pope’s representative. Tapales asked for an estimated budget of 17,000 pesos which included all expenses such as rehearsal fess for the players, scores as well as the uniforms of each participant. And yet through all these lists pertaining to the expenses and the participants never was the name of Fr. Carceller mentioned.
The events started on 1 February 1937 with the arrival of the Papal representative Dennis Cardinal Dougherty. As envoy of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Dougherty disembarked from the ship “Conte Rosso” together with other bishops and priests who where coming to Manila for the same reason. They were met by then City mayor Juan Posadas. The party went directly to Malacanang where they were received by the then First Lady Aurora Quezon. The President, Manuel Quezon who at that time was seeking treatment at Hongkong welcomed Cardinal Dougherty via telephone. The next day, Cardinal Dougherty and the other delegates went on a Pilgrimage to Antipolo. Later they inaugurated a “Mission Exhibit” at the Paulist Church at San Marcelino, Manila. Next on the Itinerary was the Rizal stadium where a civic reception for the Papalrepresentative was tendered by Mayor Juan Posadas. It was here where various groups mentioned by Dr. Tapales performed. The next day the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress was formerly begun thus occasioning the world premier of the official congress hymn Gloria a Jesus by Fr. Carceller. For the duration of the Congress, masses where held at 6 a.m. in various churches in Manila and at 4 p.m. daily a holy hour was held at the following churches: Santo Domingo in Intramuros, San Sebastian in Quiapo, Sto.Nino in Tondo and Nuestra Senora de Remedios in Malate. In conjunction with the event a book entitled “Missiones Catolicas en Extremo Oriente” was published. Incidentally Fr. Carceller’s portrait is found in this book. Underneath the portrait were the words in Spanish meaning, “Prior of San Sebastian and composer of the official hymn of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress.” On 4 February 1937 the meeting of the women started and on 5 February it was the turn of the males. During the latter day Emeterio Barcelon (lyricist for Gloria a Jesus) was chosen to give a short speech about the Blessed Sacrament in Tagalog. On 6 February the youth gathered in celebration of the Eucharist and it was here where Fr. Carceller directed a choir consisting of student representatives of various Catholic schools. An estimated 60,000 young people attended the Mass on this day. All of them wore white. Earlier during the day they had started marching from various parts in Manila toward Luneta where the event was held. Breakfast was served to all the attendees. On the last day, 7 February, at exactly 4 p.m. people gathered into the streets of Manila for the procession. The lay women started from Dewey (Roxas) Boulevard while the female religious gathered in St. Scholastica. The males started from Harrison Park while the priests started from de la Salle in Taft Avenue. All groups headed for the Luneta for the finale of the Congress. According to the documents which I found from the the UST Archives (Report for the sub-committee on Fireworks), starting from 3 p.m. the church bells of Manila were to ring simultaneously for 5 minutes to herald the procession. Half an hour later they were to ring again and at 4 p.m. the ringing would last for 10 minutes more except for the churches of Malate and Ermita which were to ring their bells continuously until the Blessed Sacrament reached the Altarin Luneta. The signal for this point of the event was to be the fireworks display.
As planned, according to the Sunday Tribune of February 7, 1937 at 8:15 p.m. the Himno Oficial was heard while the float carrying the Papal representative who was holding the Blessed Sacrament approached its destination. When the Altar was reached, everyone started to sing the “Tantum Ergo” and this was followed by a benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Benito Soliven read the Act of Consecration after which the Himno official was sung again this was followed by fireworks and the ringing of church bells as well as the honking of the horns of all the boats anchored at Manila Bay at that time. Afterwards the crowd quieted down as they listened attentively to Pope Pius XI who greeted the Filipinos and all the delegates of the International Congress via radio. At the end the Holy Father gave his blessing in English, Spanish and French. A few minutes after 9 p.m.
Dennis Cardinal Dougherty and the other delegates in his party were conducted tothe boat “Tatsuta Maru” to start their journey home. According to National Artist Nick Joaquin “Playing host to the world in 1937 during the (International) Eucharistic Congress, Manila realized it was no longer just a big town but a world-class metropolis, expert enough to stage an international happening.”
On December of the same year the second edition Fr. Carceller’s Coleccion de Canticos Sagrados was published. Unlike the first edition which consisted purely of vocal parts, the second one included organ accompaniment.
THE FINAL YEARS OF FR. CARCELLER
Fr. Carceller must have returned to San Juan in 1938 because his signature began to appear again in the parish records. His return was probably due to the request of the parishioners. From this time up to the end of the World War II his life was quiet and uneventful. His works were once more published in still anotheranthology in Manila in 1952. This time more of his compositions were added and they were also with organ accompaniment just like those in the second edition. In 1954 Fr. Carceller’s signatures in a couple of documents were replaced by those of his brother Fr. Jaime Carceller. Still it was possible that Fr. Domingo Carceller himself had gone back to San Juan Bolbok for the third time because his signature was last seen at least once in the parish records of the year 1966. Very helpful to my research was the Boletin dela Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino (March – April 1967). Although this pamphlet was published in Marcilla, Spain, it is here where the last activities of Fr. Carceller at San Sebastian in Manila are recorded. He was sacristan mayor in San Sebastian meaning that he took care of the Church vessels and vestments within the sacristy. He was then afflicted by cardio-vascular disease such that he always had pills ready in his pocket so that he could be immediately be relieved in case he would have an attack. Details on the events of January, 1967, such as Fr. Carceller’s participation in the religious exercises of the students are written of in the said copy of the bulletin. After one such encounter with the students he became so tired that he had to rest in his room. He felt pains in his shoulders and back as well as in his head. At around 11:00 o’clock that night Padre Abaigar, who occupied the next room to Fr. Carceller, heard the moans of someone who seemed to be in great pain. Fr. Abaigar immediately went to Fr. Carceller’s room where he found the priest lying on the floor in the dark. Fr. Abaigar tried to help him up but Fr.Carceller continued to groan in pain; he was having such a hard time so Fr. Abaigar administered Extreme Unction on his colleague, who expired at midnight on 31 January 1967. 
Fr. Carceller’s wake lasted for 2 days and many came to pay their last respects. He was specially mourned by the students of San Sebastian who considered him as their grandfather or abuelito. Among the Church dignitaries who came and celebrated Mass were three Monsignori: Toboult, Bishop of Davao; Bantigue,auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Arriola, Bishop of Legazpi. A day after the priest’s death a man approached one of Fr. Carceller’s fellow Recoletos, a certain Fr. Simeon. The man was looking for a priest to whom he had confessed a few days before because that particular priest had promised to give him a rosary. So when Padre Simeon showed the man the remains of Fr. Carceller the man was amazed because that was the priest who promised him a rosary. In order not to break the promise, Padre Simeon just gave the man a rosary in Fr. Carceller’s behalf. The stranger reportedly stayed at the Church to help out until Fr. Carceller was interred at a crypt in San Sebastian Church. His remains have since been moved to the burial place of the Recoletos at Himlayang Filipino in Quezon City.
Forty years after his death, his relatively few works deserve to be performed as well as preserved for posterity. After all they were once a part of the faith, life and culture of the Filipinos. Therefore before I end this presentation, I wish to make a summary of Fr. Carceller’s output as a composer.
As mentioned earlier, the compositions of Fr. Carceller were published in an anthology entitled Coleccion de Canticos Sagrados por el Padre Domingo Carceller, Agustino Recoleto in January 1937, a month before the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress which was held here in Manila. Printed by the Ramon Roces Publishers, the book was 162 pages. Following are the contents of the anthology:
I. Gloria a Jesus
-The Himno Oficial of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress.
II. Veni Creator
-Used for the feasts and celebrations of the Holy Spirit.
III. 8 Tantum Ergos and 2 O Salutaris
-Both hymns are used for the Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The origin of these 2 hymns dates back from the Time of St. Thomas Aquinas.
IV. Various Hymns (Motets) for the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The devotion to the Sacred Heart was promoted during the Pontificate of Pius XI.
V. 2 Hosannas
– Used for the Procession of Palms on Palm Sunday.
VI. Stabat Mater
– Used during the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday and the “Soledad”.
VII. Regina Coeli
– is sung during the “Salubong” or “Encuentro”, a native custom dramatizing the meeting of the Joyful Mother and the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday; also used to replace the Angelus on Easter time.
VIII. Sacerdos Pontifex
– is usually sung on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and in any celebrations that pertains to the Pope.
IX. Te Deum
The hymn was important during the early years of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. In Intramuros, the Te Deum was sung in churches when the Galleon arrived and whenever there were announcements of Christian missionaries being martyred in Japan or China. Now it is used on special feasts in the Liturgy of the Hours.
This particular Te Deum was composed following the traditional style of using the Gregorian chant alternately with measured music.
a. Misa Coral “ Cor Iesu Sacratissimum”
(Used for the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
b. Misa “In honorem Sancti Joseph”
(For the Mass in honor of St. Joseph)
c. Misa de Requiem
(Mass for the Dead. Also composed in the traditional style, using Gregorian chant alternately with measured music.)
XI. 2 Trisagios
The Trisagio is a devotional hymn to the Holy Trinity which is recited or sung at dawn.
XII. Rosary Music
a. 2 Virgen Divino Sagrario (This is used at the beginning of the Rosary.)
b. 2 Rosario Cantada (Musical settings of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.)
c. 5 Letania Laurentana
d. 6 Salve Reginas
XIII. Hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary
a. Venid y vamos todos (Sung during the flower offering)
b. Canto a Maria
c. Estrella Hermosa
d. Despedida a la Ssma. Virgen (Final hymn after a Marian procession)
e. 2 Oh Maria!
f. Himno a la Inmaculada
g. 2 Ave Maria
h. Tota Pulchra
(Traditional Christmas Songs sung in the Liturgy during Offertory or Communion)
a. Villancico I
b. Venid, venid Villancico II
c. Nino Divino, villancico III
XV. 8 Hymns to St. Joseph and a Jaculatoria
(The Recolectos have a special devotion to St. Joseph)
XVI. 6 Hymns to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
(These hymns are specially composed for the Virgen del Carmen of San Sebastian Church.)
XVII. Hymn to Nuestro Padre San Agustin
XVIII. Hymn to Sta. Teresita del Nino Jesus
Looking at the contents of the anthology, one can have a glimpse of the Liturgical and devotional life of Filipino Catholics during that time. There were certainly more novenas to more saints in those days. The Anthology was published for the second time in December of the same year. Nothing was added except for the keyboard part. However in 1952, a third edition was published in Manila. Printed by Joaquin Clavano- photo engravers and offset printers it was bound at Sionco’s Binding Shop which is located at Antonio St., Sampaloc Manila.
The third edition has 500 pages and 37 compositions were added in the said edition. There’s a total of 118 compositions by Fr. Caceller based from the 3 editions of the anthology. Because of its republication in 1957, the music of Fr. Carceller was able to survive. And through this anthology we are able to look once again to the religious and musical past of the Filipinos when more hymn-like tunes pervaded everyday Church music-making, compared to today’s pop-oriented liturgical music.
 Del Rosario, OAR, R.P.Fr. Miguel Avellaneda. Continuacion del Padre Sadaba o “Catalogo de los Religiosos de la Orden de Agustino Recoletos” (1906-1936) n.p.;n.d.
 Pena, OAR, P. Constancio. Ha muerto el Padre Carceller. Boletin de la Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino, Orden Agustinos Recoletos. No.612 (1967)
 del Rosario, R.P. Fr. Miguel Avellaneda. Continuacion del Padre Sadaba…pg.87
 Del Rosario, R.P.Fr. Miguel Avellaneda. Continuacion del Padre Sadaba….pg.86
 Del Rosario, R.P.Fr. Miguel Avellaneda. …..pg.86
 Armas, OAR, N.P. Gregorio. Querido de Dios y de los Hombres. Boletin de la Provincia de San Nicolas Tolentino, Orden de Agustinos Recoletos., No.612 (1967)
 Armas, OAR, N.P. Gregorio…pg.115
 Armas, OAR, N.P. Gregorio…pg.115; The hymn Tota Pulchra est is dedicated to the Hijas de Maria. See 1st edition of the Coleccion.
 Del Rosario, OAR R.P. Fr. Miguel Avellaneda…pg.86; all of these Official Letters are lost.
 Ref. Historical marker outside the Church of San Juan
 I think this is the famous Black Legend which I first heard of from Dr. Summers, at work again.
 The Libros de Bautismo are the parish records of baptized Catholics. The Libros de Gasto are the expenses of the Church. The Libro de Misas recibidas are the records of those who give donations and offerings in the Mass. Cartas Circular is a record-copy of all the circular letters of the Superior and the Bishop.
 Ms. Rosing Cueto lives at 25c Roces Ave.Quezon City.
 Historical Marker outside the Church.
 Joaquin, Nick. Manila, my Manila. 1990. Manila. Manila City Government.
 Bustamante, Jose El Primer Congreso Eucaristico Nacional de Filipinas. Manila. 1931 Good Shepherd press. Pg. 91-98
 “Report of sub-committee on Secular Music”, Chairman Ramon Tapales. (from UST Archives)
 Manila Bulletin 4 February 1937.
 El Debate 7 February 1937.
 Manila Bulletin 6 February 1937.
 Sunday Tribune 7 February 1937
 Joaquin, Nick Manila, my Manila: A history for the young. 1990 Republic of the Phil. City of Manila.
 The signature of his brother however poses some problems because the younger Carceller is an Escolapio not a Recoleto.
 Necrologio. Boletin dela Provincia de San Nicolas Tolentino. Ano LVII Marso-Abril 1967. Vol 57, no.611.Pgs.113-116.
 Refer to the Indice of the 1952 edition of the Coleccion de Canticos Sagrados por el padre Domingo Carceller, OAR.