As The Bamboos Sway: The historical clutch of Spanish friars on the Filipinos


As a Christian, I can forgive President Rodrigo Duterte for calling my God “torpe”. I can also forgive the Philippine Catholics for not abruptly rising against the president for the insult on their faith. Moreover, I will not fault Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle for saying “Be fools for Christ. God is the Savior. We do not need to save God. It is God who will save us.”

But washing the feet of President Rodrigo Duterte to show Christian humility as planned by a number of prelates?

Actually, with some kind of respect, bubbling or not, Fentanyl drunk or not, I could admire Duterte for he had the guts or blunder to insult a Supreme Being and a faith that had been used by Spanish Friars to keep the indios of old to be slaves and be oppressed by the Spanish exploiters for over 300 years. I am referring to the same God and faith that still, I believe, have a hold on current Filipino Catholics to be meek and disunited on issues that they should actually be, unitedly, fighting against.

Graham Green saying, “Religion is the opium of the people” comes to mind.

In Philippine History, it is always said that the Spanish conquestadores subdued the indios with the sword on the right hand and the cross on the left. The first thing that the Spaniards did when they landed at Homonhon was to celebrate the first mass in the Islands and to baptize Rajah Humabon and his family. From then on, for every island they attacked, for every barangay they subdued, after the Spanish soldiers have the chieftains and their native members surrendered, the Spanish friars made sure that the populace stayed subdued.

The friars baptized whole clans. Those who refused to be baptized were considered barbarians, pagans, infidels and gentiles, enemies of God and had to be annihilated. As the Spanish government evolved, in every municipality, fronting the alcalde’s office building, stood a Catholic church. In every sermon, homily, catechism class, or any imparting opportunity, biblical passages serving to protect the ruling oppressors and keep rebellious impulses of the people at bay.

Consider “thou shalt not kill” and “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” These passages were meant for the indios never to raise arms against their oppressors who were the only ones allowed to kill “gentiles”. Consider the eight beatitudes where one has to be meek, poor in spirit so that one will inherit the heavens or the kingdom of God. The friars made sure that their flocks will engage in activities like endless novinas, rosary praying and others that would draw a veneer over their eyes that they may not see the exploitation wrought upon them for such is their station in life.

Patron saints were also instituted where preparations for fiestas occupied the people over the year long, and bringing forth a semblance of competition as to whose fiesta is better compared to others, sublimely institutionalized a disunity among the people. They also prayed to their patron saints like they were the way to their salvation from miseries and all. All with the effect of the indios accepting their state in life and distracting them from the reality that Spain is the exploiter and they are being exploited.

Nonetheless, though it took a long burn, the indios, led by the Katipunan, realized that prayers are not the answer to the miseries and revolted. With or without the Americans, the revolutionaries were able to break their chains from their Spanish colonizers. The Americans also used religion but that is for another article and not at hand.

Now you have Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urging his flock not to “be distracted” from “other pressing concerns” in the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against God, basically telling them to stay calm. While he points out that there are pressing problems saying, “While these questions are extremely important for the dialogue between faith and current concerns, let us not be distracted from addressing other pressing concerns with the fervor of faith and love: for example, the increasing prices of goods, job security, exploitation of women and children, violence in homes and neighborhoods, different types of addictions, crimes, vulnerabilities of OFWs, the daily paralyzing traffic in big cities, flooding, reconstruction of destroyed cities, combating terrorism, corruption, and others…We cannot address these problems just by blaming someone. Those who believe in God must work faithfully and joyfully for the Lord. Those who do not believe in God must serve out of human decency, generosity, and concern for neighbors.”

To me, basically, the Cardinal’s statement is a friar infested muddled statement. While he points out the nation’s problems, there is no one to be blamed and we must “believe in God and act with human decency, generosity, and concern for neighbors.” Question is human decency towards whom, generosity for whom, and concern for who are the neighbors?

Against the cardinal’s keeping the Catholics at bay – in prayers and non-action against the insult and the economic and social situations prevailing, other members of the clergy have become vocal and could not keep calm. Some of them have already been shot dead – just like Jesus Christ and his apostles being killed for standing and speaking out for the sake of the poor. They have used the other passages of the bible to justify revolt. Consider that God drowns evil people like in Noah’s episode. God drowns slave exploiters like in the Red Sea during Moses’s time. That God could not be mocked and He is actually a God of war.

Yes, like the Katipunan, in a slow burn against their exploiters, the clergy who will not heed Cardinal Tagle’s friar like stance will prevail. In the final analysis, it is always actions that will solve economic situations, maybe guided by, but not by prayers alone.

And definitely not by washing his feet which is actually far more overboard than what the Spanish friars have influenced Filipino Christians with.

It might also be worthwhile to note that all countries that were under the Spanish regime and influenced by the friars are the most backward countries in the world today. #


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.