Philippines:Catholicism In Ilocos
 Religion 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.
   Nueva 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.
  The 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.
On 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.
After 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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