The Socio-Cultural And Political Impact Of Christianity In The Town Of Pandacan, Manila

During the Pre-Hispanic days, Pandacan was part of an ancient Malayan kingdom known as Namayan, which was later called by the Spaniards as Sta. Ana de Sapa of the district of Sta. Ana. The kingdom’s jurisdiction includes what we would know today as Dilao (Paco), Quiapo, San Miguel, Sampaloc, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and San Juan del Monte. According to Ricardo Mendoza (1979), the large kingdom was ruled by Lakan Tagkan. It was supposed that Namayan as a rich kingdom, as it was major mercantile area for goods traded by the Chinese. Archeological studies also point out that the kingdom started to flourish in 1175. Pandacan therefore was a part of a greater center of authority and trade. Its culture was drawn from external ties already rooted among the natives of the place.

According to sociologist, Cornelio (2018)., when the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in 1521, more than 100 ethnolinguistic groups already occupied the archipelago of more than 7,000 islands. He added that while they did not exist as one country, the islands were nevertheless connected to each other via trade routes and slave-raiding that included other territories in the region. Trade, in fact, existed before the 10th century. Cornelio (2018) stated that the islands also teemed with religious diversity. In addition to that he said the Ifugao in northern Luzon, the Tagalog in southern Luzon, the Visayans such as in the central islands, and the various indigenous communities in Mindanao each of the settlers had their own beliefs, code of ethics, and ways of worship.

He also stated that there were Muslim communities were also scattered around the islands, including Manila. It has become a ground for transaction in exporting and importing goods passing up the Pasig River. By then, King Philip II sent Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, along with Spanish soldiers or as what they call it conquistadors, to Manila in 1571. When they further explored the islands, they found a place along the Pasig River where the Pandan plants heavily flourished along river banks and marshes, that it was known by a name that means “where Pandan grows” – Pandanan. This word, the Spaniards characteristically mispronounced as “Pandacan”.

The origin of the name Pandacan from the pandan plant is supported by the fact that many names in the archipelago were drawn from plants and trees, setting a pattern. During the Pre -Spanish times, Christian and Pagan codes differed- they did not harmonize. Sitoy (1985), in his review of documents concerning pre-Spanish religious beliefs, notes that there were three core characteristics which shaped the religious worldview of Filipinos throughout the archipelago before the arrival of Spanish colonizers. Firstly, Filipinos believed in the existence of parallel spirit world, which was invisible but had an influence on the visible world, and then secondly they believed that there were spirits (anito) everywhere - ranging from the high creator gods to minor spirits that lived in the environment such as trees or rocks or creek.

Filipinos believed that events in the human world were influenced by the actions and interventions of these spirit beings. According to Querido (2009) Pandacan was established as a community in 1574 when Franciscan priests of the Roman Catholic Church established the first mission in the district. He stated that the first stone church in Pandacan was built in 1732 by Father Francisco del Rosario and took 30 years to complete. In addition to that he explained the image of the Holy Child of Jesus or popularly known as Sto. Niño was enshrined at the church and its feast is traditionally celebrated on the third Sunday of January which according to legend, the image of the Santo Niño was recovered from a well near the church and some say the water from the well resulted in the healing many of the settlers. Querido explained that although the well has long been sealed due to pollutants and that a shrine stands on what was once the well. He added that the original church of Pandacan that was completed in the 1700s was twice destroyed by earthquakes, and went on to explain how despite that the modern church now still stood on the ruins and along with that, a parish school stood on what was the Catholic cemetery of the district.

Originally, Pandacan was just a part of Sampaloc’s parish. When Franciscan priests started their first mission in the district, only then was it established to be a community in 1574and later on, a separate parish in 1712. Shortly after being a separate parish, Fr. Francisco del Rosario initiated the establishment of Pandacan's first stone church in 1732. It is where the 'hidden' Sto. Nino would be preserved. The church took almost 28 years to complete. Although, it has been destroyed twice by the earthquakes. Today, a modern church is situated on its ruins as well as a parish school which is located on what was then the Catholic cemetery of Pandacan.

The Aglipay Schism also strengthen the religious life not only in Pandacan, but in the entire Philippine islands as well. The Philippine Independent Church or what is now more known as the Aglipayan Church is an independent Christian church in the Philippines which was built by the members of the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina when the news broke out about the Spanish priests’ mistreatment towards Filipinos during the Spanish colonial rule. Gregorio Aglipay, an activist and a Roman Catholic priest, was then suggested to be the head of the church by Isabelo de los Reyes, one of the Church’s initiators. The said schism served as a function of the Filipino ecclesiastes’ resentment towards Spanish Catholic order that would then earn the support of the pro-independents as well the American Protestants. Since then, the church has received heavy criticisms from the Roman Catholic Church. However, this would gradually recede as the church draws closer to the Episcopal church.

Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church had its presence be limited to Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines and Mongolia as of now. In most of their branches worldwide, they are considered as autonomous churches. The first recorded Methodist church in Asia was established in China in 1847 named as the United Methodist Episcopal Church and in 1899, the first Methodist mission took place here, in the Philippine soil.

The Philippine chapter of UMC is popularly known as Philippine Central Conference (PCC) and has the coverage of at least three episcopal areas encompassing at least 7,000 islands and 50 languages. The origins of the Philippine Episcopal Methodist church began as an extension of the Malaysian Annual Conference. Over the years, it gradually developed and finally in 1905 the Philippine Islands Mission Conference was formed as the Philippine chapter of UMC. This would be held annually in order to celebrate the festivities of the Methodist tradition and at the same, a jurisdictional meeting would take place. This creation of Methodist church in the Philippines was not greeted warmly by the Filipino leaders and thereby claimed that this is a form of “annexation” of the U.S. government under the guise of a religious organization. Around 1908-09 the first schism occurred and a group formed the first independent and sub division of the PCC and was called Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas.

03 December 2019
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