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Christian religious facts in the Philippines


(Research project of Elisabeth LUQUIN, affiliated researcher at IRASEC)


Christian religious facts in the Philippines, more particularly on

  1. the independent Christian worships (especially the Iglesia Mistica Filipina) and
  2. the place of women.

The Iglesia Mistica Filipina central church in CalapanWhile studies on Philippine Catholicism and Evangelisms are relatively numerous, few focus on the various local churches — except from the Rizalist churches (which transformed the national hero José Rizal, among others — into a deity or a saint, and are most often millenarian). These small independent churches (simbahan), called cults (kulto) or sects (sekta) as well, are also defined as syncretic indigenous religious movements.

The study of the common features between non-Christian religions and independent Christian cults (but also the different forms of Christianity or syncretism) concern, among other things, the beings or divinities invoked (the Mother of the mountains and the Virgin Mary for example), prayers and invocations, amulets or Catholic scapulars. We can examine the fact that saints would have replaced the ancestors/divine entities/spirits who grant wishes for good harvests, protect, ensure fertility and income, etc. as long as the living invoke them and nourish them ; see, for example, All Saints’ Day (Elesterio 1989). These motifs of pre-Hispanic religions refer us to the non-Christian ritual practices of the different linguistic minority groups of the archipelago. It will be interesting to identify which elements have been maintained or rebuilt following colonization.

The second theme will identify the place of women in Christian cults independent of the Vatican, Protestantism or the evangelical currents.

We will therefore question the diversity of the Filipino religious fact more particularly in the Churches or cults/local independent religious movements (and particularly in the Iglesia Mistica Filipina) : how is it linked to extended families (“clans”), congregations, land ownership, personal power or politics and finally to the power of dead ancestors who have become — or not — saints ?

This research is part of the IRASEC research axe Social Dynamics : rights, education, place and status of women , migrations, health.