on Asia-Pacific Forum for Library and Achives Management
Bangalore, India, UTC- June 1 - 30, 2004
The Philippines Church
B. The Land
C. The People and their Culture
D. Religious Background
story of the growth of Christianity in the Philippines
began with the arrival of the Roman Catholic Christianity
during Magellan’s visit to the islands in 1521.
The sources for this period are archeological findings
and scattered historical references to the Philippines
in the records of nearby China.
Pre-Spanish History and Religion
When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, the
islands were inhabited by at least two distinctly
different types of peoples: the Negrito and the Malayan.
The Negritos were a small minority found mainly in
the remote mountain regions. These people called the
Aeta by the Tagalogs are Negroid pigmy people, nomadic
food gatherers, who are treated with disdain by the
more highly civilized Malayan group. They must have
arrived in very early times, possibly traveling across
then-existing land bridges connecting Borneo and the
Philippines. Their language has been lost and their
culture has been so modified by contact with other
groups that their own primeval culture and beliefs
cannot be reconstructed. There were probably many
waves of migrations from different parts of Southeast
Asia. Borneo, Java, Indochina and South China represent
several probable points of origin.
migration brings Animism - In religion we also find
common patterns which point to a common animistic
religious heritage of all these peoples. Much of this
basic animistic belief structure persists even to
the present day.
and Chinese Influences in Pre-Spanish Times –
when the Spaniards arrived, in the 16th century, they
did not find a country completely untouched by outside
civilizations. Magellan had not been the first foreigner
to set foot in Philippine soil. So Magellan did not
discover the Philippines but arrived in the Philippines
The first foreign contact probably was that of Indian
traders, possibly as early as the 2nd century. In
the 7th century the Sri-Vishaya Empire, of Buddhist
orientation, rose in southeastern Borneo. This empire,
expanding until about the 12th century, eventually
dominated the major Island of western Indonesia, the
Malay Peninsula, and possibly the Philippines and
the southern part of Formosa (now Taiwan). It may
have been from this empire that the central islands
of the Philippines received their name, the Visayan
(or Bisayan) Islands.
In the 13th century, the Sri-Vishayan Empire was destroyed
by the rising Javanese Madjapahit Empire. This empire
was Brahmanistic in character and for over a century
exerted its influence upon Philippine life and religion.
Over the centuries the Chinese had enjoyed a brisk
trade with the islands. They apparently came to know
of them through Arab traders in about the 9th century.
By the 13th century they dominated trade with the
Philippines, their junks following a definite circular
route around Southeast Asia. For a while Chinese interest,
or power, seemed to drop off, but again in the 15th
century, just before the trade-seeking ships from
the West arrived, the Chinese made another attempt
to dominate the entire region through trsde under
the second Ming emperor, Yung Lo. Thus, when the Spanish
arrived they found Chinese vessels trading, especially
in and about Luzon and Mindoro. Chinese influence
was greater in the area of material culture than in
religion or social culture.
Coming of Islam - the last of the major pre-Spanish
influences to reach the Philippines. In its march
eastward Islam had become securely established in
India by A.D. 1200. About the middle of the 14th century
an Arabian scholar, Makdum reached the Moluccas. He
then moved to into the Mindanao-Sulu area and began
to propagate the Moslem faith there in about1380.
A Rajah Baginda from Sumatra arrived, followed a very
important leader, Abu Bakr, who settled in Sulu in
1450 (only 70 years before Magellan arrived). Abu
Bakr married a daughter of Rajah Baginda and declared
himself sultan of the area, thus establishing the
first Moslem sultanate in Sulu (points to the map)
at the Southern tip of the Philippines.
Thus began the growth of Islam in the Philippines.
Its influence in the South was profound. It introduced
a new religion, a new religion, a new government and
a new learning. Its influence spread and was beginning
to make advances in Luzon, especially around Manila,
Spanish arrived there.
The Spanish Conquest – the arrival of Magellan
and the coming of the Roman Catholic Christianity
to the Philippines, 16th century. (March 16, 1521)
333 years under Spanish rule and Roman Catholicism
The Introduction and Growth of Protestant Chritianity,
1899 – 1946
On June 20, 1898, the Presbyterian and Methodist Board
began consultations with both the Baptist and Methodist
Board regarding the opening of a work in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, although the Baptists and Methodists had
informed the Presbyterians that they would not be
able to enter the Philippines immediately, both were
very concerned and took steps which soon led to the
sending of missionaries from these two boards as well.
The Presbyterian Missions
From the very beginning it was the Presbyterian mission
which showed special concern that Protestant mission
work in the Philippines be conducted in a brotherly
spirit of cooperation and non-competitiveness.