Philippines:Catholicism In Ilocos
can be imposed against the will of the people or it can be accepted as
a dogma. Perhaps, the Conquistadors imposed the Catholic
faith against the will of the Ilocanos in the pretext to grab their
land and gold. The cross came in the form of sword.
Segovia was founded in 1581 by Pablo Carreon three leagues away, from the
mouth of the Ibanag river (Rio Grande de Cagayan). Nueva Segovia (Lallo,
Cagayan)was the capital and principal port of Cagayan valley. As a diocese,
it was canonically erected by Pope Clemen VIII with the bull Super Specula
Militantis Ecclesiae on August 14, 1595 with Miguel de Benavides, OP, as
its first bishop. Its territorial jurisdiction extended over all the provinces
of Northern Luzon. It was placed under the principal patronage of
the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Together with
the diocese of Cebu
and Caceres, it was made suffragan to the new Archdiocese of Manila.
Before the end of the Spanish era in the Philippines, only Jaro was added
as a new diocesan 1865.
For convenience and practical
reasons the need for a site at the center of the diocese, the See of Nueva
Segovia was transferred to Vigan, Ilocos Sur at the request of Bishop Juan
de la Fuente Yepes. During the pontificate of Benedict XIV, in the reign
of King Ferdinand VI of Spain on September 1758. Then Nueva Segovia
was also slowly being washed away by the river and so it was assimilated
further inland in nearby Lal-lo, Cagayan. It was then a booming pueblo
and center of Spanish influence and politico-economic power. Moreover,
the second bishop of Nueva Segovia Diego de Soria, OP, as well as the succeeding
bishops preferred to stay in Vigan until it was deemed necessary to transfer
the seat of the diocese permanently . The villa or Juan Salcedo’s military
garrison integrated to old Bigan and known as Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan
in honor of the current King of Spain. The abuses of the clergy and Spanish
officials’ excessive tribute resulted the Diego Silang rebellion in which
he defeated the forces of Bishop Domingo de Salazar in 1762. The parish
of St. Paul was founded in the poblacion of Vigan on April 30, 1575 by
the Augustinians led by P. Alonso de Alvarado. The Franciscans took over
in 1578 and the later the second clergy in 1591 sometimes alternated parish
administration with the Augustinians.
Christianization of the Ilocos is a typical Augustinian plan of evangelization.
It consist of six parts: Personal preparation was undertaken by an orientation
period given in Spain, training the missionaries to their specific assignments.
Once in their pastoral areas, the missionaries were expected to specialize
in one or two of the native languages. The natives were persuaded to gather
in basic groups that slowly were organized into pueblos in strategically
selected sites, usually by the sea or along the rivers. Immediately aware
of the moral influence that the presence of the priest had on the natives,
the missionaries established permanent residence where the people lived.
At first basic instruction meant the teaching of the Christian doctrine
but later on, a broader concept of education developed. Aware of their
limited number and without any regard for priority rights they might have
claimed, the Augustinians called on the other orders, congregations and
the diocesan clergy, so that the work of Christianization could be expanded.
the other hand, the missionaries who had limited numbers and supplies may
not Christianize the natives in the hinterlands for sometime. There are
several contributing factors in the Christianization process in Ilocos.
The appointment in 1595 of a Dominican as the first bishop of Nueva Segovia,
which included Ilocos
Sur, the expropriation of several Ilocano parishes from the Augustinians
by Gov. Simon de Anda y Salazar and Bishop Miguel Garcia de San Esteban,
OP, in`1771. The outbreak of the Philippine
Revolution in 1896-1898 ended the Agustinian apostate in Ilocos. The
aftermath of the American victory over Spain (Spanish-American
War 1898), acquired the Philippine Islands from Spain's possession
under the Treaty of Paris Dec. 10, 1898. The new colonizer sent American
missionaries to Ilocos. Their mission was to "conquer" the Ilocano
Catholics and the introduction of U.S. educational system in the Philippines.
the Philippine-American War, there was still irritation or minor conflict
between the natives, the local Catholic Church and the American colonizers.
In November 1, 1902, the American civil authorities banned the traditional Catholic burials
besides the churches for about two years. They claimed that such burial practices
violated the New Sanitary Law. The newly founded Iglesia Independiente Filipina
(Philippine Independent Church) led by Bishop Gregorio
Aglipay and Don Isabelo de los Reyes, a Vigan mestizo and co-founder Philippine
Independent Church a.k.a. Aglipayan Church were recruiting more members
in Vigan and likewise with American Protestant missionaries. In 1903, an
American bishop took the rein of Diocese of Nueva Segovia.
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