The Spread of
Roman Catholicism and Nationalism


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First Philippine Mass
ni Carlos V. Francisco, undated

 

  • The institutions of Church and State were inseparable throughout most of Spanish rule in the Philippines.
  • The Catholic missionaries were largely responsible for attracting people through theatrical performance of major Christian Biblical stories in the form of Pasyon plays and mass baptisms thought to cure illnesses.
  • It is said that the initial baptism of 800 subjects on Cebu island after Magellan arrived cured the ailing grandson of Rajah Humabon; but Magellan was later killed by a native named Lapu-lapu.
  • Few Catholic missionaries conversant in the local language led to the development of "folk Catholicism", e.g., continuing belief in the healing power of amulets and local spirit beings; crucifixions and flagellations as route to forgiveness and redemption reflects this "acting out" of Biblical themes.


  • In latter part of Spanish period, large friar estates developed.  The Spaniards prevented the promotion of Filipino clergy to high positions, a stance which led to the Cavite mutiny of 1872. 
  • Spanish officers were attacked in Cavite and three Filipino priests -- Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora (known as the GOMBURZA)  were executed on trumped-up charges.
  • The martyrdom of the three priests led to the birth of Filipino  nationalism on February 17, 1872. 
  • The martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, an outspoken Chinese mestizo who wrote famous books such as El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere, ignited further the nationalism of Filipinos against Spain. 
  • Rizal was executed at the Luneta Park publicly for criticizing Filipino clergy and demanding land sales to tenant farmers on friar estates.   His death united the insurrection leaders that started the Philippine-Spanish war.  
  • Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo were leaders of the revolutionary movement against Spain, called the Katipunan.

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Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal
Philippine National Hero


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A sculpture of
Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan
at EDSA in Manila

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