Carvajal: Filipino-centric

Break Point

NOT a whimper so far but Catholic bishops might raise a howl yet over Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 103 that orders a “Filipino-centric point of view” in the commemoration of the “circumnavigation of the globe, the battle of Mactan and other related events.”

The planting of the Cross by Magellan and the first Mass are being painted to the “other-related-events” corner instead of in the center of the commemoration or celebration. The Catholic Church will have to celebrate those religious events on its own, without any government help, except maybe from some politicians who are known to kowtow to bishops for public relations mileage.

I like EO 103 for a couple of reasons. One, we need to stop looking at 1521 as the year Magellan discovered us. That’s a Spanish point of view. From a Filipino-centric viewpoint, 1521 was the year we found strange looking men wading onto our shores. They could not have sailed around the globe if we did not replenish their bottoming out provisions for the journey.

Instead, however, of thanking us for saving them from hunger and thirst they came back later to confiscate our land from us. Overnight from owners of ancestral lands that we tilled communally, we became their serfs. That began the marginalization of millions of Filipinos who became their serfs and later tenants of their successors, most of today’s oligarchs.

Two, we are a secular society, with separation of Church and State enshrined in our Constitution even if previous governments have always given the Catholic Church preferential treatment. The Philippine government cannot spend for a strictly Catholic activity without giving protestant Christians, Muslims and other religions equal right to be spent on. Catholic bishops need to stop triumphalism and start respecting the Constitution by not expecting, least of all in a way demanding, preferential treatment from the government.

In any case, what is there to celebrate? Spain ironically did the unchristian and cruel thing of taking away our land and making us their serfs as a mission of Christianizing us. But what difference has Christianity made? After 500 years of it we are the poorest, most corrupt, and most undisciplined of our neighbors. The leadership of service Christ taught His disciples can hardly be found among our elitist political, economic and even religious leaders.

Medieval Catholicism that Filipino bishops continue to practice today by ignoring Vatican II reforms taught us a suffering and accepting Christ, not an enabling Christ who empowers us to free ourselves from oppression by today’s successors of heavy-handed Spanish and American colonizers. This is no cause for celebration but for Filipino-centric soul searching.


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