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I. Pernes

Prof. Beni Estepa

Philippine Church History Timeline


March 6, 1521
March 31, 1521

April 14, 1521

April 27, 1521

February 2, 1543

Ca. 1553
Ca. 1559

Ca. 1565
May 8, 1565
June 1, 1565

June 4, 1565

Ca. 1570
Late Spanish

Ferdinand Magellan "discovers" the islands and names them: Archipelago of San Lazaro. His
arrival represents the first attempt by Spain to convert Filipinos to Roman Catholicism.
The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated by Father Pedro de Valderama. After the
Mass, the natives expressed their desire to be Christians and for this, Magellan planted hastily
a big cross on the top of the hill. This was the first Holy Cross planted in these isles, and it was
the Easter Sunday when they do it!
A week after the arrival of Magellan in Cebu, Father de Valderama erected and blessed the
Holy Cross in the middle of their settlement.
There in that plaza, that same day, the King and the Queen with 800 of their subjects - men
women and children were baptized.
Magellan gave them the Santo Nino of Cebu that became the symbol of the Catholic faith in
the Philippines
The life of Magellan was tragically ended in Cebu and after his defeat, the Cebuanos lose heart
and most of them returned to their idols burying on the ground both the Cross and Our Ladys
statue. But they keep with them the Santo Nino whom the revered as the Bathala, the
Supreme God.
Spanish Expedition commandeered by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos claims the islands for Spain;
named the area "Philippines" in honor to Philip the Prince of Asturias, son and successor of
Charles V to the throne of Spain. The Philippines becomes part of Spanish Empire. Villalobos
then died because of deep melancholia.
Philip II ascended the Spanish throne.
King Philip II ordered for the spiritual and the material conquest of the Philippines and an
Augustinian priest Fr. Andres de Urdaneta presented himself to the mission as the chief pilot
and the fleet was commanded by a royal official Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi but due to
some delays, the fleet sail on November 20, 1564
They arrived in the eastern coast of Samar. Proceeding to Bohol, Legazpi made the famous
blood-compact with the chieftain Rajah Sikatuna
The formal ground breaking and possession of the first Spanish settlement. (the Feast of the
Apparition of the Archangel)
Father de Urdaneta blessed the new church (Church for the Santo Nino) built by the
Spaniards before he sailed back to Acapulco in Mexico. The image of the Santo Nio was
carried in solemn procession where the natives were deeply impressed by the colorful,
glorious pageantry and some solemn chants.
The most sensational conversion of King Tupas and his son happened, because for a long time
they refused to abandon the religion of their ancestors. This entailed the renunciation of
polygamy and the restitution of ill-gotten goods. Moreover, this broke the final barrier so that
the islanders, after the example of their chief, voluntarily presented themselves in mass to be
instructed and to be baptized.
Legazpi conquered Manila while the others conquered other parts of the country not so much
by force, but by the zeal of the first missionaries.
Catholic orders and their friars were the wealthiest and most politically powerful elements

Colonial Period


Ca. 1930



within Filipino society. Spanish friars represented the hegemonic power of the Spanish
government and foreign Catholic Church, while native priests pushed forward demands for
greater authority in in Filipino parishes
Gomburza, (Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jocinto Zamora) Catholic priests were
among the revolutionary figures that deeply inspired nationalist efforts were executed by the
Spanish army on suspicion of formenting the 1872 Cavite Mutiny
Jos Rizals Noli Me Tangere which told stories of corruption in the priesthood, and which was
banned in Catholic schools well into the 20th century was condemned by Spanish friars
The coupling of the Catholic Church and Philippine state proved a challenge for the incoming
Americans, who promoted a policy of absolute separation between church and state. They
also inherited the problem of the Spanish friars, many of whom had no intention of leaving
the Philippines despite hostility from nationalist Filipinos.

-Emilio Aguinaldo assembled the Malolos Congress in Bulacan, then declares independence in
Kawit, Cavite
American Colonial Period, a lot of Protestant teachers and missionaries came to the
Philippines to purify what they viewed as the incorrect or syncretic characteristics of
charismatic blends of Filipino Roman Catholicism.
The power of the Catholic Church reemerged in part due its control over Philippine
Universities of which Filipino elites were graduates. As a result, the vast majority of Filipino
politicians were Roman Catholic and Catholicism was an important aspect of political
Ferdinand Marcos being elected as president and his tenure was remembered as a dark
period of deep corruption, violence, chaos, and repression. The Church played various roles
during that period.
By his second term in office, the Catholic Church in the Philippines was profoundly impacted
by Vatican II and was working more closely with impoverished Filipinos on basic issues of
social justice.
With the death of his predecessor, Cardinal Jaime Sin assumed the position of Archbishop and
immediately became an influential opposition figure and under his leadership, the Church
called for an end to martial law and a full restoration of civil liberties.
The Church helped to organize massive protests in a show of People Power, in such large
numbers that it became impossible for Marcos to ignore. Marcos and his family were exiled to
Hawaii and Corazon Aquino was sworn in as president.

Steven Shirley, Guided By God: The Legacy of the Catholic Church in Philippine Politics (Singapore:
Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2004).

ARCILLA, Jose S., SJ. 1998. An introduction to Philippine History. Manila. Ateneo de Manila University
Press, Fourth enlarged edition.
BRAGANZA, Jose Vicente, SVD. 1965. The Encounter. Manila. Catholic Trade School.
FERNANDEZ, Pablo, OP. 1988. History of the Church in the Philippines. Manila. Life Today Publications.
VILLAROEL, Fidel, OP. 1981. Lorenzo Ruiz : The Protomartyr of the Philippines. Manila. Saint Paul's
WALSH, William Thomas. 1987. Philip II. Illinois, USA. Tan Books and Publishers.

The Role of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Philippine Church
The Philippines has undergone numerous events in the course of history. From its precolonial period where the natives lived a simple and undisturbed lives, unprepared for the
coming of one of the inhabitants of Europe, the Spaniards, who settled for three centuries
and to the forthcoming of the Americans and to countless wars among other nationalities
and among the Filipinos themselves. Therefore, created fascinating stories of triumph and
defeat, fear and passion. Also, cultivated nationalists visionaries and heroes, broken some
mindsets, and hearts stirred up for a radical change and freedom.
Throughout these events, one cant simply imagine how the Philippines survived around
the chains that have been strangling her for God knows how long.
Since the colonial period, Catholicism has been the cornerstone of Filipino identity for
millions in the Philippines. It rapidly spread during the early years of Spanish colonialism.
Its associations with Filipino identity have placed the Church at the heart of nationalism,
social justice, and other movements, while at the same time has been associated with
power, elitism, and exploitation at various points in its history.
The Spaniards came here and passionately spread Catholicism all throughout the country.
Somewhere around those times, there was also a widespread expedition of Islamic
teachings over the Middle East and some parts of Asia. If the latter came to us first, it
might be a different story although there are already Muslims in the Philippines during
those times but concentrated only in the southern parts of the country.
If we were to dissect each events, we wouldnt noticed that theres something bigger or
someone greater that is behind all of these things but if well look now of what has
happened in the past, if well look at the bigger picture, well see that God was there all
along. His spirit intervened. He allowed things to happen maybe to teach us lessons, to
discipline us, to make us stronger, and to make us understand that without Him we cant do
anything, that we are nothing. We are called to be His nation, His children.
Hardship produces character. If we didnt experience all the hardships, we will never know
how to fight. We will not know the values that are most important to us. We will not have
the identity of who we are today. God trained us during those difficult times. He prepared
us for what He in store for each one of us. Just as He promised, the Holy Spirit will enable
us to do what He now wants us to do and to be what now He wants us to be. Just like our
heroes, I am convinced that the same Spirit that led the disciples in the time of Jesus to
stand up was also the same Spirit that led our heroes to fight for our freedom. The Spirit of
God teaches us not only to be active but also to be proactive in every situation we are in.
This isnt over yet. The story of the Philippines will keep on going, but one thing is for
sure. Every step that this country will take will be another course of history in the future
and that step will be closer to what it should really be, the nation that is called by God.