MonthFebruary 2019

Misa de Gallo in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte

December 30, 2014

Palo, Leyte – Whether it is a fully-reconstructed barangay chapel or one that is currently being built, the people of Leyte flocked to the Misa de Gallo, the nine-day dawn masses in preparation for Christmas. “This year, it has a specific vibrancy and fervor because of the impact of the Pope’s coming. We also received guidelines to include the spiritual preparation of the people about mercy and compassion, the theme of the papal visit in January 2015, in our homilies during the Misa de Gallo,” said Fr. Oscar L. Florencio of the papal visit secretariat in Palo.

“Thanks to Caritas, NASSA, and the CBCP more than 50 barangays chapels have been reconstructed in Palo alone,” Fr. Florencio continued. Because of this, the people are also in high spirits, so happy to have a beautiful chapel where they can gather for the mass, fellowship and the sharing of the Word of God.

So they come in droves to the Christmas novena masses – in gratitude for the past year as they picked up the pieces after Yolanda, and also to present to Jesus and Mary their wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Almost all the barangays chapels have their own choir and they have a ‘misa cantada’ everyday! The responses of the faithful to the prayers of the priests are sung, not only to create a beautiful liturgy, but also for pastoral reasons. Since mass is celebrated at 4:00 AM, singing the responses helps the congregation to remain alert and awake during the celebration.

Another particular feature of the Misa de Gallo this year is the project Lamesa ni Marta as part of the Year of the Poor activities. This means inviting everyone, particularly those still struggling with the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, to enjoy the food and the community after the celebration of the Eucharist. The Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) started this practice in some parishes in the past years. This time the whole diocese has committed to live the essence of the papal visit’s theme – mercy and compassion, and the Year of the Poor – do justice and love kindness by feeding the flock through Lamesa ni Marta.In some parishes, this project is carried out in close collaboration with local government units and generous lay people.

In Palo where the chapel of the Archbishop is still under construction, the faithful go to the chapel early and bring with them the images of San Roque, Our Lady, the Sacred Heart, etc. for the Aurora – the dawn rosary procession.  This beautiful devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary was re-introduced by Archbishop John Du in Palo and he would often join the people in procession. They go around the barangays holding the sacred images while saying the Holy Rosary, and the crowd expands as they go back to the chapel. The elderly who grew up with this devotion, families, young people and children, and even adult males join the crowd, each with a fervent wish and a prayer for Christmas.

After mass, more than 300 people partook of the hearty breakfast provided by the good bishop and prepared by volunteers.

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Papal liturgical book

You may now download your own free copy of the Liturgical Guide for the 2015 Papal Visit to the Philippines.  This booklet was produced and distributed through the generosity of worldwide subscribers of Living with Christ and Prions en ElgiseBayard Presse and the Augustinians of the Assumption through their International Solidarity Fund

Answers to Queries

What is route of the pope going to Luneta? We want to make sure we get a better glimpse of him by positioning ourselves where the motorcade will pass.

The authorities are still mapping out the routes for all the events during the papal visit, and will most likely disclose the details very close to or during the visit itself. But if you noticed the past papal visits, the pope’s motorcade never passes through side streets—only through main roads.  Your planning might be helped by knowing the itinerary of the Pope, which was announced at a press conference last November 14.  You may find and copy it from the official website,

The news said that in Korea, Pope Francis rode an ordinary Kia car. Will the Pope ride a bulletproof popemobile in the Philippines?  

This is a most repeated question especially by reporters during press briefings. And the answer is always “Nobody knows”.  It may be top secret but one thing sure, Pope Francis wants nothing ostentatious or pricey.  He likes touching people, and since this pope— besides being so “makamasa”—has been known to be a “pope of surprises” we won’t be surprised if he turns up in an open and very Pinoy dyipni.

After Mass the other day, the priest said we should hurry to secure tickets to places where the pope will appear but didn’t say how. Where we may apply for these tickets?

No tickets are issued, given away, or sold by the Papal Visit organizers. Beware of anyone who tries to sell you passes, accreditation cards, or tickets to any papal visit event.  All events may be witnessed by the public, although the meetings with the particular interest groups (youth, inter-religious, families) will be participated in by pre-selected representatives.

Is the Mass with bishops, priests and consecrated persons at the Manila Cathedral open to the public? We hear that only invited persons may attend it.  We are religious sisters, but we are not invited.  How may we participate there and in the Luneta?   

You are right, since the cathedral can accommodate only so many, dioceses from all over the country will just be sending delegations to the event. However, as with other major liturgical celebrations held at the Manila Cathedral, whatever goes on inside will be projected on huge screens outside.  There will be tents with seats in front of the cathedral; be there early to find a comfortable niche before the crowd sets in.  It will be the same situation at the Eucharistic celebration in Luneta.  Try asking for assistance from your parish priest or bishop who might be planning to attend these public gatherings.

Is the Dialogue with the Youth at the UST open to the public? We are a youth group from Bacolod City, may we be given slots for this event?

The event is open to the public, but the quadrangle will be cordoned off and reserved for students who will be issued proper passes. You may obtain accurate information from the Chancery or the bishop’s office in Bacolod—they may be organizing youth groups to send to Manila.  For more details on the encounter with the youth at the UST, please inquire by calling the UST Office of Public Affairs, tel. (02) 731-3544.

When Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines, he went to UST. When Pope John Paul II came, he also visited the UST.  Now Pope Francis is coming, he will also visit the UST.  Why always UST?  How lucky can UST get?

This is a very good question from a rather perplexed inquirer. Here’s a brief explanation: the University of Santo Tomas is a pontifical university, directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff—the successor of Peter, the first pope. Aside from its function as a regular university, a pontifical university has a special mission of spreading the Gospel and promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The Rector of a pontifical university is appointed by the Vatican, and whenever the pope travels to a country where there is a pontifical university, it is his duty and pleasure to visit this university not only to see how it’s doing but also to inspire and encourage its students, faculty, and staff in their evangelization efforts.

We are from Mindanao and we are very interested in joining our Holiness Pope Francis at the meeting with the families at Mall of Asia. Is there any reservation to be made? May I know any contact person and number or how much do we pay for this special event?

The Meeting with Families will be attended by families pre-selected by the Dioceses. Your best source of information would be your own parish and the diocesan office, wherever in the Philippines you happen to be.   Your parish priest would be a proper conduit to the bishop, and should be able to provide specific answers to your questions.

According to the website, only professional journalists and photographers may be accredited to cover the event. I am editor-in-chief of our university’s paper, we are planning to cover the event; may we be allowed to apply?

You read the website right—only professional journalists will be accredited to cover the event. Yu may apply for accreditation but to be approved, applications undergo a tedious sifting process Enthusiastic staffers of school organs and university publications may, of course, mingle with the public and produce great human interest stories which may be published in the official website blog, or in their own blog, linked to Facebook.

I’m from Malaysia, and would like to go to the Philippines during the pope’s visit. Are there any tour groups traveling from Malaysia to Philippines in January? 

None that we’ve heard of, although we have been told of Overseas Filipino Workers intending to come home for the pope’s visit. Why not ask around the travel agencies in your own place of origin, whatever country you’re coming from.  They would have up-to-date information, and if you wish to inquire about local tours in the Philippines, you may also request your agency to inquire and book for you.

A friend (Filipino) in Switzerland told me somebody has been raising funds for the papal visit, presenting a letter signed by Cardinal Tagle and another person, instructing them to deposit their donations to her account in the Philippines. A number of trusting and generous persons have donated, but my friend would rather follow the proper procedure.  Do you have an official bank account for receiving papal visit donations?

It’s good that your friend is asking first before parting with hard earned money. We are not sure about that fund-raiser in Switzerland, but should you or anyone you know wish to donate, the Papal Visit Finance Committee Executive Secretary Msgr. Clem Ignacio advises that you make all check donations payable to RCAM-PAPAL VISIT.
You may also deposit to Bank of Philippine Islands, BPI Current Account # 0051-0556-75, or to Security Bank, SB Savings Account #0061-015085-001. All donations are receipted, so when you deposit, kindly inform the Finance Committee by calling tel. (02) 527-2995, or emailing a copy of your deposit slip to,
so that your contribution may be properly identified and receipted. For further inquiries, please fax or call the office of Msgr. Clem (02) 527-2995, and talk to Marla, Kish or Mildred.

Where will Pope Francis stay during his visit? Will it be    the Manila Hotel?  Besides being a historic hotel, it is in Luneta, faster and safer for the pope to get to the grandstand.

This is one of those things the papal visit organizing committee is mum about, for understandable security reasons. Yours is a thoughtful and practical suggestion, but we have no answer to your question. We can only echo the assurance Cardinal Tagle gave to the curious reporters at a press conference who posed the same question: “Tiyak, may matutulugan siya!”  (For sure, he will have a place to sleep).

I saw the itinerary on Facebook. I’m wondering why Malacanang is first on the list.  Is it more important than the Mass with bishops at the Manila Cathedral?  Pope Francis could also use more time to be with the poor.

The pope’s trip to the Philippines is both a state visit and a pastoral visit. Being the Head of State of the Vatican City State, the pope is also welcomed by the Head of State of the host country.  He will be given arrival honors, have bilateral talks with  President Aquino and address government officials and the diplomatic corps in Malacanang.  We should rejoice that Jesus in the person of Pope Francis will be welcomed and heard in the presidential palace.

Where may I buy Pope Francis’ book “Education for Choosing Life: Proposal for a Difficult Time” locally and what is the cost? I would like to give it to my son and my daughter-in-law, both high school teachers.

That’s a good gift idea, because this book contains messages to teachers given by Jose Cardinal Bergoglio when he was Bishop of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, that book may only be sold in the United States and Canada, according to the Ignatius Press website.

I and two others are customizing calendars for different parishes for commercial purposes. May I know if we may use the official logo of the papal visit?  A related question: I have a very small store and also print personalized t-shirts as a hobby. Can I print our beloved pope’s official logo on t-shirts and sell them to those who want so we can also wear papal shirts to show support for his visit to our country?

The official logo is copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes. So as not to dampen your enthusiasm, we respectfully suggest you create your own logos and designs bearing the essential elements of the visit, like the theme “Mercy and Compassion” coupled with an image of Pope Francis.  It will be a challenge to your inventiveness but your product will also be unique yours, something that might give you a greater sense of accomplishment.

How may we get a spot/booths where we may sell memorabilia at Luneta?

You may have to ask the Manila city government about this, if a special permit is required, or if you can just randomly pick a spot and sell your items. You may also inquire from the office of Bishop Pablo S. David, Holy Rosary Parish, Sto. Rosario St., Angeles City (Pampanga), tel. (45) 888-6355.  Bishop David is Chair of the Papal Visit Physical Arrangements Committee.

Where may we submit a quotation for portable toilets?

Try inquiring from the office of Msgr. Clem Ignacio who heads the Papal Visit Finance Committee, tel. 527-2995. You may also need permits from the Manila city health department since portable toilets affect sanitation.

Will the pope have a dialogue with HIV/AIDS patients? I hear that dioceses give access to PWD (Persons With Disabilities) but since I am not a PWD, I don’t ask to be included.

To date the visit’s program seems set, and there is no mention of a dialogue with HIV/AIDS patients. For your information, it is the Vatican who decides on the itinerary and all the pope’s activities during the visit.  Every week since last November 24, the Media Committee conducts press briefings at its general headquarters in the Knights of Columbus compound in Intramuros (across the NCCA offices).  Always present at these briefings is the head of the Media Committee, Bishop Mylo Vergara, with different panelists from the Church and the government each time, depending on the topic to be discussed.  The media then disseminate the latest updates; you may watch for them in the news, or visit for more information.


Dear Families,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I am grateful for your presence here this evening and for the witness of your love for Jesus and his Church. I thank Bishop Reyes, Chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, for his words of welcome on your behalf. And, in a special way, I thank those who have presented testimonies – thank you! – and who have shared their life of faith with us. The Church in the Philippines is blessed by the apostolate of numerous family movements and I thank them for their witness!

The Scriptures seldom speak of Saint Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams. In the Gospel passage we have just heard, we find Joseph resting not once, but twice. This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you. I need to rest in the Lord with families, and to remember my own family: my father, my mother, my grandfather, my grandmother… Today I am resting with you, and together with you I would like to reflect on the gift of the family.

First, however, let me say something about dreams. But my English is so poor! If you allow me, I will ask Monsignor Miles to translate and I will speak in Spanish.

I am very fond of dreams in families. For nine months every mother and father dream about their baby. Am I right? [Yes!] They dream about what kind of child he or she will be… You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies. So I ask you each evening, when you make your examination of conscience, to also ask yourselves this question: Today did I dream about my children’s future? Today did I dream about the love of my husband, my wife? Did I dream about my parents and grandparents who have gone before me? Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!

How many difficulties in married life are resolved when we leave room for dreaming, when we stop a moment to think of our spouse, and we dream about the goodness present in the good things all around us. So it is very important to reclaim love by what we do each day. Do not ever stop being newlyweds!

Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us. He speaks to us in the reading we have just heard, in our prayer and witness, and in the quiet of our hearts. Let us reflect on what the Lord is saying to us, especially in this evening’s Gospel. There are three aspects of this passage which I would ask you to consider: First, resting in the Lord. Second, rising with Jesus and Mary. Third, being a prophetic voice.

Resting in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us. Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. To make a home for Jesus! You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities.

To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day to rest in the Lord, to pray. To pray is to rest in the Lord. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I know that; I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. I know. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.

Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. Don’t forget: the family that prays together stays together! This is important. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! So important! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church! To rest in the Lord is to pray. To pray together as a family.

I would also like to tell you something very personal. I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!

Next, rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act (cf. Rom 13:11). In casino our families, we have to get up and act! Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. This is very important! We have to be deeply engaged with the world, but with the power of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.

Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God’s plan is entrusted to us. Like Saint Joseph. The gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph so that he could care for it. Each of you, each of us – for I too am part of a family – is charged with caring for God’s plan. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.

Let us be on guard against colonization by new ideologies. There are forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family. They are not born of dreams, of prayers, of closeness to God or the mission which God gave us; they come from without, and for that reason I am saying that they are forms of colonization. Let’s not lose the freedom of the mission which God has given us, the mission of the family. Just as our peoples, at a certain moment of their history, were mature enough to say “no” to all forms of political colonization, so too in our families we need to be very wise, very shrewd, very strong, in order to say “no” to all attempts at an ideological colonization of our families. We need to ask Saint Joseph, the friend of the angel, to send us the inspiration to know when we can say “yes” and when we have to say “no”.

The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situationhas caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. These are forms of ideological colonization. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

I think of Blessed Paul VI. At a time when the problem of population growth was being raised, he had the courage to defend openness to life in families. He knew the difficulties that are there in every family, and so in his Encyclical he was very merciful towards particular cases, and he asked confessors to be very merciful and understanding in dealing with particular cases. But he also had a broader vision: he looked at the peoples of the earth and he saw this threat of families being destroyed for lack of children. Paul VI was courageous; he was a good pastor and he warned his flock of the wolves who were coming. From his place in heaven, may he bless this evening!

Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 85). The future passes through the family. So protect your families! Protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.

Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52). When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. Families can become a blessing for all of humanity! God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.

During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them. Today I was very moved when, after Mass, I visited a home for children without families. How many people work in the Church to make that home a family! This is what it means, in a prophetic sense, to build a family.

You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!

Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray for families! I do! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Do not forget Jesus who sleeps! Do not forget Saint Joseph who sleeps! Jesus slept with the protection of Joseph. Do not forget: families find their rest in prayer. Don not forget to pray for families. Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always! Thank you very much!

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Papal visits to the Philippines

Modern popes have made it a point to make the long journey to Catholic Philippines, bastion of Christianity in Southeast Asia, at least once in their pontificates. The country has so far been blessed with three papal visits in a span of 25 years. In 1970, Pope Paul VI came as a missionary pope and visited the slums of Manila. A decade later, Pope St. John Paul II came to raise the Philippines’ proto-martyr, Lorenzo Ruiz, to the ranks of the “Blessed.” St. John Paul II returned in 1995 to dialogue with young people, and in the process drew the largest human gathering in history as he preached the message of Christ’s saving mission. For Filipinos, papal visits have been a source of joy, strength, and most importantly, hope.

Pope John Paul II | January 12-16, 1995

The Pope in Dialogue with Young People

St. John Paul II returned to Manila in 1995 to be with young people from all corners of the world in celebration of the 10th World Youth Day. It was another 20,000-mile pilgrimage to strengthen, in the words of an eminent papal biographer, “solidarity with the world’s most populous and least Christian continent.” Little did anyone expect that the closing Eucharist of the week-long festivities in the metropolis would produce not just the biggest papal crowd but the “largest gathering in human history.” It was in Rizal Park, where the Holy Father reechoed his universal call to holiness and issued his memorable exhortation on the World Youth Day theme: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”

Five million, many of them young people, were in attendance. “Christ! Christ! Christ! I speak without abbreviation,” said St. John Paul II in his homily for the solemn Eucharistic celebration on January 15, 1995. “When Christ becomes all of this for you, the world and the Church will have solid reasons for hope for the future.”

Be not afraid!” were Christ’s words that the Polish Pontiff used to preach the message of hope during the Cold War. At the International Youth Forum in the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, the Holy Father used the same words to rally young people to answer God’s call. “Enormous tasks lie before the youth of the world; especially before the Catholic youth of the Philippines, of Asia and the Far East, on the eve of the Third Millennium,” he said. “The largest mission land of the worldis in need of workers, and the Church constantly prays the Lord of the harvest to send them, to send us, to send you.”

The Holy Father again marked an important milestone in the life of the Philippine Church—the quadricentennial of the elevation of the See of Manila to an Archdiocese and the erection of three suffragans: the Dioceses of Cebu, Nueva Segovia, and Caceres. “The establishment of a Metropolitan Church in the Philippines bore witness to the fact that the work of the first missionaries had borne abundant fruit … In this part of the world it is the Philippines which enjoys the greatest wealth of ecclesial life,” the Pope said in his homily on January 14, 1995 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

St. John Paul II took the opportunity to reach out to the rest of Asia, as he had done in 1981, and Pope Paul VI before him in 1970 through the facilities of Radio Veritas, which celebrated its 25th year in 1995. Of particular concern were Chinese Catholics, to whom he sent a special message of affection. At San Carlos Seminary, the Holy Father reminded the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences to foster their mission ad gentes, to “make disciples of all nations” in a manner that is not an imposition but rather, one that involves “love and respect for those being evangelized.”

“I take with me a thousand images of the Filipino people,” St. John Paul II said as he left Manila for Papua New Guinea on January 16, 1995. “I know your desire for greater justice and a better life for yourselves and your children … May God help you to follow the path you have already begun: towards a continuing development that preserves and promotes the true values of your Filipino culture!”

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The Philippines: “Arsenal of Faith, Deposit of Christianity in the East”

The story of the Philippines is the story of the Church’s “most successful missionary effort in Asia” (Bokenkotter, 2005). Like the proverbial grain of the mustard seed sown in fertile earth, the growth and development of the Church and the Philippines were the fruits of the labors of missionary friars, sustained by an indigenous clergy, and made vibrant by a faithful people. Jesuit historian Fr. John Schumacher writes: “Whether one is a believing Catholic or not, the development of the Filipino nation cannot be understood without a knowledge of the major, often decisive role that the Church has played, well or ill, in that process, and continues to play.”

I. Spain conquers the Philippines with the Cross of ChristII. A Church established by missionary zealIII. Spiritual life flourishes among FilipinosIV. A Filipino clergy emergesV. A missionary church for Asia and the world

I. Spain conquers the Philippines with the Cross of Christ

Conquista de las Islas Filipinas (Fray Gaspar de San Agust+¡n, Madrid, 1698)

Catholicism came to the Philippines with the European discovery of the archipelago. The explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the islands in 1521 and planted the cross on the island of Cebu, cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. There, he spearheaded the conversion of Rajah Humabon and his consort Harah Amihan, who took the baptismal names Carlos and Juana (after the Spanish king and queen mother). This happened within weeks of the offering of the first Mass in the islands by Fr. Pedro de Valderrama, chaplain of the voyage, on March 31, 1521. Magellan had named the islands the “Archipelago of St. Lazarus.” On the day he first sighted land (March 16, 1521), it was a Saturday, the eve of Passion Sunday, when in the old Roman liturgy, the gospel was the resurrection of St. Lazarus. The name that stuck however was “Las Islas Filipinas” (the Philippine Islands), given by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos who headed one of the follow-up expeditions after the death of Magellan in the hands of the natives in the Battle of Mactan.

The evangelization of the Philippines began with the arrival of the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in Cebu on April 27, 1565. The natives fled and burned their homes, but in one hut was recovered the image of the Santo Niño, the Child Jesus. It wasMagellan’s baptismal gift to Queen Juana, and today the object of the largest Christian devotion in the country. Legazpi called the first Spanish settlement the “City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus,” the feast attached to the devotion to the Holy Child.

Street map of Intramuros, 1671

The Augustinian friars who came with Legazpi, led by Fray Andres de Urnadeta, built a church and convent in honor of the Santo Niño in Cebu. In 1571 they went with Legazpi as he conquered Manila and turned the then bustling Muslim settlement into the walled capital (Intramuros) of the new Spanish colony. For 13 years the Augustinians were alone in the missionary effort. The Franciscans arrived in 1578, followed by the Jesuits in 1581. The Dominican mission arrived in 1587. But the first Dominican to land on the islands was Fray Domingo de Salazar, who accompanied the Jesuits six years earlier and took possession of the newly established Diocese of Manila as first bishop. The See of Manila was a suffragan to Mexico until August 14, 1595 when it was elevated to an archdiocese, with the dioceses of Cebu, Nueva Segovia and Caceres (Naga) as suffragans.

Domingo de Salazar, OP, first bishop of Manila

The choice of Salazar as first bishop was propitious. Salazar was a disciple of Bartolome de las Casas, who defended the Amerindians from the abuses of the Spanish colonizers. Salazar was bent on doing the same in the Indies. The legitimacy of the conquest was a question that vexed the young colony, and was addressed precisely by the Synod of Manila convoked by Salazar in 1582. The Synod Fathers concluded that Spain must exercise political dominion over the Philippines to fulfill its primary duty of evangelization, as commissioned by the Pope.Salazar’s synod, more importantly, condemned slavery and resolved to spread the Gospel using the native languages, a key decision that preserved the local tongues.

As expected, Salazar encountered stiff opposition and had to go to Spain to personally plead for the rights of the natives before the royal court. Upon his death the struggle was continued by a fellow Dominican, Fray Miguel de Benavides, who pointed out that tributes had been collected unjustly from unbelievers. Spain must make restitution, he argued, and obtain a just title to the Philippine islands. This could be done only if the natives submitted freely to the colonizers

The Catholic king acceded. The victorious Benavides returned to the Philippines, now the bishop of Nueva Segovia, and himself oversaw the gatherings in which Filipinos voluntarily agreed to be the Spanish king’s subjects.This was the reply of one Filipino to the question of ratification: “We answer that we want the king of Spain to be also our king and ruler because he has sent Spaniards to free us from the tyranny and domination of our own rulers, and also because he has sent us missionary fathers to help us against the Spaniards, ready to defend us against them.”


Alarcon, R.A. (2009). The Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Jorge Barlin: A New Phasein Philippine Church History. Philippiniana Sacra XLIV(131), 383-408.

Arcilla, J. (1998). An Introduction to Philippine History (4th edition, enlarged). Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

_____. ed. (2006). Unknown Aspects of the Philippine Revolution. Makati: St. Pauls Philippines.

Gutierrez, L. (2010). Domingo de Salazar, O.P.: First Bishop of the Philippines, 1512-1594 (A Study of His Life and Work). Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

Gutierrez, L., Suñga, E., Santos, R. & de Jesus, A. (1999). The Archdiocese of Manila: A Pilgrimage in Time (1565-1999). Manila: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila.

Joaquin, N. (2004). Culture and History. Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Schumacher, J. (1979). Readings in Philippine Church History. Quezon City: Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University.

_____. (1999). Father Jose Burgos: A Documentary History(with Spanish Documents and their Translation). Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

_____. (2009). Growth and Decline: Essays on Philippine Church History. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

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Catholic mediaman urges respect for ‘Pope standees’

 September 18, 2014

QUEZON City, September 18, 2014—Seeing they are often made fun of, Catholic radio anchor Ansel Beluso appeals to the Filipino public to be “more reverential” when taking pictures with the life-size cardboard cutouts of the Pope’s image.

Posting on social media website Facebook (FB) Friday, September 12, Beluso expresses concerns that many—who may or may not be Catholics—disrespect the Holy Father in how they treat his standees.

“May I just say this: When we take a selfie with a life-size image of Pope Francis on a standee, can we please be more reverential about it? I find it disrespectful when people wrap their arms [around] the Pope’s shoulder, acting like they’re on the same level with him, grinning, patting his head, and mocking his baldness,” he said

According to Beluso, he feels “violated” that some go so far as pose like they are about to punch the Holy Father; others even kiss the papal standees.

Meanwhile, other netizens have taken Beluso’s side in denouncing this behavior.

Mabel Gaskell of Quezon City online casino believes it has to do with a loss of the “sense of the sacred”, connecting it with how people behave during mass.

“If they can sit in the pew and behave like they’re sitting on a park bench, then that means they have forgotten or worse ignored the fact that Jesus is present in the tabernacle. And so the Pope to them becomes just an ordinary world figure,” argued Gaskell.

Maria Retina C Sarmiento of Manila underscored the importance of giving the Pope the respect due him as “Vicar of Christ”.

Rey Cazenas of Antique lamented that some people miss the point why Catholics refer to the Pope as “His Holiness”.

”Reverence, respect, and honor should be given to Jesus’ representative on earth. If we see Jesus Christ in Pope Francis, we need to give him the same respect and love,” shares Kristy Manuel of Parañaque.

“A picture or a standee represents the person. I don’t think those people would do that to pictures of their parents or ancestors? It’s in very bad taste,” shared Thelma Balajadia of Cebú, regretting that many Filipinos seem to have lost the value of respect.

Church-run Radyo Veritas is giving away “papal standees” in a bid to raise awareness on the upcoming apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines scheduled from January 15 to 19, 2015.

“Many people are taking selfies so this is an opportunity to take a picture with the Pope,” said Fr. Anton Pascual, who heads both Radyo Veritas and Caritas Manila.

Pascual added the Church-run radio station aims to place about 100 standees of the Holy Father in selected schools, churches, and offices of religious organizations nationwide, including places the Pontiff is set to visit.(Raymond A. Sebastián)

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Commentator: God of mercy and compassion, we come to you in our need and lift up to you our nation as we prepare for the apostolic visit of Pope Francis.

Commentator: After every invocation we say together:

Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may be faithful to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may be eager to meet and listen to Pope Francis

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may be compassionate with the poor and the needy

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may be merciful with the weak and the lost

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may humbly confess our sins and return to God

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: That we may frequently and devoutly receive Holy Communion

All: Bless your Church Lord!

Commentator: Let us pray

God our Father, we are all your children. Make of us a nation of mercy and compassion eager to meet Pope Francis. Make us a nation of holiness and heroism through Christ our Lord. Amen

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10 things you need to know about Pope Francis

From the moment he stepped into the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica upon his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis has captured the world’s attention for his simple message of God’s boundless love and mercy. Here are 10 things you need to know about His Holiness Pope Francis:

1. Pope Francis is a pope of many “firsts”.
2. Pope Francis sees himself as a sinner.
3. Pope Francis believes the Church should be more like a “field hospital after battle,” with bishops serving as true pastors and priests spending more time in confessionals, consoling wounded souls.
4. Pope Francis wants to keep it simple but “cannot live without people.”
5. Pope Francis only has the deepest of affections for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, his “brother” who now lives in a monastery at the Vatican.
6. Pope Francis is a reformer; he is not afraid to shake things up.
7. Pope Francis says “no” to an economy of exclusion.
8. Pope Francis warns Christians against falling into the trap of spiritual worldliness,” which is “self-centeredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God.
9. Pope Francis is a fervent devotee of the Blessed Mother.
10. Pope Francis is a son of the Church.


Selected Sources:

Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013
“A Big Heart Open to God: The Exclusive Interview with Pope Francis” (America: The National Catholic Review), September 30, 2013
Press Conference of Pope Francis During the Return Flight from the Apostolic Journey to Rio de Janeiro on the Occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day, July 28, 2013

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