A historian of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) on Saturday (March 13) said Filipinos were moving forward to incarnate the Christian faith as their own.

“1650 to 1750 Filipinos were moving beyond basic knowledge of the faith to incarnating the faith and making it part of their own,” UA&P Department of History faculty Sophia Marco said during the “Philipine History Webinar Series” held to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines and to delve in the establishment of Chrisianity in the Philippines back in the Spanish Colonization period.

The beginning

Marco said that the earlier period of Christianity in the Philippines was marked by struggle.

She said that Bishop Domingo Salazar, the first bishop of Manila, received complaints from the natives about the injustices of the alcalde mayor, now known as mayor.

“The ideas of hustisya, katuwiran, and katarungan were in a way developed among the natives,” she said citing the documents of the first Synod of Manila held in 1582.

She added how Filipinos also experienced inequality during the baptism to Christianity as conversion of the datu had no mass compared to Germanic tribes in Europe and were not converted by the swords unlike the 8th century of the Saxons.

Help from the ‘natives’

Marco also said that “a good number of Indios” are willing to adhere to their faith despite the challenges.

She mentioned Don Pedro Bukaneg of Bantay Ilocos who taught on the streets and helped Augustinian friar Fra Francisco Lopez with his printed works despite Bukaneg’s blindness.

She also mentioned Cagayan Valley’s Dona Luisina Balingan who was the main support of the church in her town and was a teacher and guide to her people.

‘Maturing church’

Marco explained that the sign that the church in the Philippines was “maturing” was the deeper religious formation of those already evangelized and baptized.

She said that the 1650th to 1700th saw the emergence of explicaciones and sermons, translations of European religious classics, and explanation of christian beliefs.

“People are going more into spiritual reading to know more about how to struggle for holiness not just for basic beliefs,” she added.

Fellow UA&P history faculty member Mary Josefti Nito cited Maurillo Velarde in the webinar that boys and girls around 14 years old were required to hear the mass, sing the prayers, and recite the rosaries everyday.

In a recent report of the US-based Pew Research Center revealed that 86.8 million Filipinos are adhering to the Christian faith in the Philippines while only seven percent of the population are non-Christian.  Hazel N. Camba