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Christianization of native Boholanos
« on: June 12, 2007, 12:45:30 PM »
          Ferdinand Magellan, the briliant Potuguese navigator believed that the Orient could be reached by sailing west. He presented his plan to the king of Portugal. After the Portuguese king rejected his plan, Magellan approached king Charles of Spain, who agreed to finance an expedition. Five ships with 264 men left Spain in 1519 and navigated the treacherous passage at the tip of South America to find their way to the Pacific. On March 16, 1521 they sighted the island of Samar and on the following day the Spaniards landed on Homonhon. After resting for 8 days, Magellan proceeded to Limasawa; met its chief, Rajah Kulambo and his brother, chief Rajah Siago of Butuan and the three men sealed their friendship with a blood compact. On easter Sunday, the first Catholic Mass on the Philippines was celebrated before the Spaniards and the natives. Magellan then erected a large wooden cross and claimed the land for Spain. The Spaniards proceeded to Cebu where Magellan was killed by Lapulapu. When the Cebuanos became hostile to the Spaniards, they left across Bohol and burned the ship Concepcion for lack of sailors to man the three ships on their way to Tidore Moluccas. The ship Trinidad went to Panama and only the ship Victoria arrived at the port of San Lucar, Spain. Only eighten out of the 264 men on board came back on September 6, 1522. Thus, the first ship to circumnavigate the world with Sebastian de Elcano in command.

          Delighted and encouraged by the succes of Magellan's expedition now under the command of Elcano, the king of Spain sent several expeditions, namely, Louissa, Saavedra, Villalobos and Legaspi. Only Legaspi's expedition touched Bohol. His expedition was motivated by two overriding considerations; to search for gold, silver and spices, and to Christianize the natives of the islands. In conformity with the second aim, Legaspi was accompanied by six Augustinian missionaries in addition to Fr. Andres de Urdaneta who served as navigator and spiritual adviser. His four ships left Mexico and arrived Cebu in 1565. Owing to the Cebuanos hostility, he explored the island of Samar, Leyte, Limasawa, Dapitan and Bohol where he made a blood compact with Chief Sikatuna and Sigala. He then decided to conquer Cebu and make it his base of operation. With the Augustinian missionaries with him, he wanted them (the misionaries) to convert the Cebuanos to Christianity. But the conversion of the Cebuanos to the Catholic religion was made possible only after the Cebuanos were subdued by the Spaniards in a fierce battle that ensued where the Cebuanos were driven to the hills by the superpower fire of the Spaniards on March 21, 1568. Fr. diego de Herrera baptized Tupas, the chief of Cebu with Legaspi himself acted as the godfather. Here he established the first Spanish settlement int the Philippines, calling it the "City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus".

          On November 17, 1595 two Jesuit priests, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, left Cebu for Bohol. They established themselves and started the mission in the village of Baclayon and its nearby hamlets, now the towns of Alburquerque, Corella, Balilihan and Sikatuna. They were at first coldly recieved by the natives, but after some hard work and patient dealing, they succeeded in winning their confidence. With the people's help, they built a big church which still stands today as the oldest one in the province and one of the oldest in the Philippines.

          Encouraged by the success in Baclayon, the priests decided to extend their missionary work. Fr. Torres went to Loboc, an inland village where people from the coast used to barter fish for farm products. Fr. Sanchez stayed in Baclayon to gain more confidence and friendship of the natives who helped him build a church and a convent in 1602. From Loboc, Fr. Torres went to Talibon. He celebrated his first mass with the natives in a chapel already built by a Spaniard gold prospector. After the subsequent successes of the missionary work of Frs. Torres and Sanchez and the enthusiastic acceptance of the natives top the Christian faith where hundreds of the natives were baptized more missionary priests were sent to Bohol to attend to their spiritual needs of the villages of Loboc, Baclayon, Maribojoc, Panglao, Inabanga, Calape and Tubigon. Later on after the Jesuits expulsion from the Philippinses, Augustinian Recollect missionaries took over and more villages were taken charge. They took charge of the missions at Loon, Maribojoc, Tagbilaran, Dauis, Jagna, Dimiao, Loboc and Inabanga. Because of the goodwill of the Recollect missionaries, they were received without repugnance and were loved and respected. From the foregoing account of the work of the Augustinian recollect, it is evident that the people of Bohol readily accepted the Catholic religion. (compiled by JHAD Computer Services)

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