Let me begin by invoking three Thomases

Quijano de Manila
Let me begin by invoking three Thomases: the three greatest Thomases whose presence should be
felt on every campus, especially a Catholic campus like this of Santo Tomas.
The first, of course, is St, Thomas Aquinas; patron of this university, possibly the last philosopher
could achieve a synthesis of human knowledge, because he could still take all knowledge for his
St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the age that enjoyed a unity of faith and action and he therefore saw
no conflict between faith and reason, or between religion and science. Both illuminate each other; both
are aspects of individual truth. As Marshall McLuhan says, Aquinas was a pre-Gutenberg man, born
before the printing press divided and subdivided knowledge into specialized fields. The culture into which
Aquinas belonged was a “manuscript culture” but manuscripts were mainly aids to memory in a process
of learning mostly conducted viva voce. You did not get wise pouring over manuscripts.; you became
wise through disputation, through vocal debate, through dialogue, because then you saw the problem
simultaneously from many different viewpoints. Which is why McLuhan calls scholasticm a “simultaneous
mosaic” the coming together of conflicting opinions. According to McLuhan, that “simultaneous mosaic”
became impossible with the invention of the printing press, which replaced the old oral lecture with new
visual culture in which reasoning became “lineal” and consecutives as lines of print.
Which brings me to my second Thomas: St. Thomas More, who stood at the end of one era and the
beginning of another. McLuhan calls Thomas More a “bridge” between the old manuscript culture and the
print culture. The scholastic dialogue of medieval times could “ deal with many aspects and levels of
meaning in crisp simultaneity,” but Thomas More already saw that this method would not do in the culture
of modern centralist and nationalist states, which demanded a “lineal” process of learning, “ one thing at
a time, nothing out of due order and fashion,” as Thomas More put it. But when he wrote his Utopia, ho
looked back with nostalgia to the scholastic past and was happy to record that his Utopians were oldfashioned in that they are like clerks of old, who worked under no restrictions ad could range at will all
over human knowledge, then still unspecialized and indivisible. If Thomas More is a bridge only for us
today, who can, through him, seek a way back to the integration of sensibility: for he was no bridge of his
own time, when his humanistic vision clashed with the rising nationalism o Europe. The unity of faith and
action had collapsed. Knowledge was becoming fragmented and sensibility became “disassociated”. If
Thomas More was a religious martyr, he was also a cultural martyr.
And this brings me to my third Thomas: St. Thomas Didymus, the apostle known as the “Doubting
Thomas”. Didymus means twin- and we can say hat the Doubting Thomas is the twin of Thomas Aquinas.
If Aquinas provides the answers, or the method for reaching the answers, Doubting Thomas provides the
questions. And we should bear in mind that the question is necessary as the answer for discovering truth.
Doubt is not a sin; rather does it indicate a mind honestly concerned with getting at the truth, a mind that
wants the truth.
Among the Twelve Apostles, Thomas Didymus may be said to be the Devil’s Advocate, the skeptic
we need to save us from simply swallowing what may be error or delusion. Though he belonged to an oral
culture, he refused to accept hearsay as truth. He demanded evidence, he required proofs, and he wanted
the testimony of his senses. And we are therefore more ready to believe his assertion that he had seen the
wounds with his own eyes and he touched them with his own fingers. If Aquinas shows us the value of
faith in discovering wisdom, Didymus shows us the value of doubt in finding faith.
I have of late been engaged in delivering lectures on Philippine culture and history and those
lectures have been so controversial I have taken to announcing myself as the “Devils Advocate”, because
the ideas and options I advance seem to shock the intellectual establishment. Yet all I’m doing is asking
questions that for some reason have not been asked before. In this matter of Philippine culture and
history especially, dogmas have been established that none may doubt, none may question, none may
challenge. But I’m devilish enough to ask questions because I believe in the value of challenge-andresponse.
This afternoon, I have come to speak to you on another highly controversial subject: Christianity
and the Economic Culture o the Philippines.
Nationalist was the humor in the 1950’s of a witticism about our history: “ We seem to arouse in
other peoples a desire to convert and civilize”.
The irony there, we realize now, will work only if the statement be true, which it obviously isn’t,
though none has cared to remark how incorrect it is or to point out that exactly its opposite is true: that
we seem to arouse in other peoples a disinclination to convert or to civilize us.
And to prove that, we need only cite what happened- or, rather what did not happen- to us in the
centuries before 1521.
Were the great religions of Asia then all aflame with the desire to convert us?
Had the Chinese missionaries been exhorting us for ages on the precepts of Taoism and
Did India send us numberless Hindu gurus determined to win us over to the Brahman and a belief
in reincarnation?
Were hordes of Buddhist Monks leading our forefathers on the Eightfold Path to Salvation?
Had the samurai come to enlighten us with the codes of Shinto and the wit of Zen?
And was Islam so zealous for our souls that no sooner had it reached East Asia in the eight
century than it was heading for theses islands and teaching us all to submit to Allah, from Aparri to Jolo?
If it were true that we arouse the missionary fever in other peoples, then these close neighbors of
ours in Asia should, long long before 1521, have converted us to their respective religions, and with the
same fervor with which they were so busy converting one another- for the Chinese, the Indians, the
Malays, the Ceylonese, the Cambodians, the Viet, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Arabs, the Indons were
all eager then to bring everybody else the good news of salvation and enlightenment. But in this general
and widespread missionary activity all over Asia, we were somehow left out. We were ignored, we were
bypassed, and nobody seemed to have been eager to bring us to any Good News. What we seemed to
arouse in other peoples was a desire not to convert us. And the great mystery of our prehistory is why, in
all those ages before 1521, we never became Taoist, or Confucians, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or Shinto’s, or
even really Muslims.
And we cannot even argue that we were bypassed because we were so isolated. Such an argument
would be consuelo de bobo for us who now claim to be the gateway of Asia, or the crossroads of Asia, or
the hub of Asia, or the heart of Asia, or whatever it is we’re supposed to be in Asia. And when we further
argue that, even before 1521, we were already all over Asia as a big-time trader and good cultural
neighbor, we only make darker the big mystery of our history. For if we were already participating so
actively is Asian civilization, how come our own culture didn’t show it? All our culture can show are some
foreign beads and bangles, some foreign cloths and ceramics, and on the meager evidence we are ready
to deny an obvious fact: that we were still in a state of prehistory because Asia was no more eager to
civilize us that it was to convert us.
In economic culture, we were left out by Asia. And again, all we
need to do to prove that is cite what happened-or; rather, what did not happen- in the centuries before
China already had paper. Did we get paper from the Chinese?
Korea already had printing. Did we get the book from the Koreans?
India already had wheel and plow. Did we get wheel and plow from
the Indians?
Indochina already had currency. Did we get banking from the Indochinese?
Japan already had road and bridge. Did we get road and bridge from the Japanese?
Malaya had already cities. Did we get city culture from the Malays?
Indonesia already had masonry. Did we get architecture from the Indons?
Islam already had ocean-going vessels. Did we get the ship from the Arabs?
If we really into Asia then, it’s incredible that so few of the basic tools at least of that culture should
have passed into ours- as incredible as our being, after long intercourse with the United States, still
ignorant of autos, planes, movies, telephones, newspapers and the electronic media. How can we
proclaim profound relations with China when we weren’t even using chopsticks or chinelas or the dragon
calendar like all the nations really influenced by Chinese culture?
The internal evidence provided by our culture makes clear that whatever relations we may have
had with Asia were so slight as to have little or no effect on our primeval culture. We were no part of Asiaand those who now attack us or the West for the non-Asian qualities of our culture are barking up the
wrong tree. If, for instance our painting and our architecture are not Asian, it’s because they did not begin
as Asian- which how they should have begun, long before 1521, had Asia only been more eager to teach
us its arts and techniques, not to mention its theologies. But we aroused in Asia no desire at all to
“convert and civilize” us.
And that is why Christianity is so unique as event for us, because Christianity is the only religion
that has shown a desire to convert us and has pursued that desire with undeniable zeal. Islam arrived in
the Philippines in the 14th century but after more than 200 years had converted a handful of tribes on the
western fringe of Mindanao, and an even smaller handful in the Manila area. It cannot be said to have ever
penetrated the country. But Christianity had a few decades reached almost all the islands and was
spreading everywhere in the land, form the remotest shore to the highest mountaintop.
In our history that event is not only unique but also almost miraculous; we had finally aroused in
other people a desire to convert us. Even greater is the miracle of our economic transformation, from a
subsistence agriculture to- in a couple of centuries- a culture of town life, large-scale farming, specialized
jobs, and production for export. In this sense, Christianity civilized us; and since we we’re so touchy on
he subject, we should be reminded that he opposite of civilization is not barbarism or savagery. Strictly
speaking, civilization means city or urban culture and therefore the opposite is properly village or tribal
culture-, which was the culture we left behind when we were gathered “under the sound of the bell”. Only
when we had left tribe and clan did we become ready to be a nation. And the tools that Christianity
brought in, and which became the generators of our new culture, the dynamo of the nation-to-be,
developed this readiness.
Which is why, in the Philippines, Christianity can have for a symbol not only the cross, but also
such tools as the wheel and plow, road and bridge, map and book, cement and printing press, because
these tools were brought to us in the name of Christ, for the love of Christ and by the agents of Christ.
Revolutionary were the techniques that Christianity introduced to the Philippines, as can be seen
in the sexual revolution brought on by the new methods of farming.
Our primeval farming was either slash-and-burn (the Kaingin), or stick-and-mat, with the stick used
for tilling and the mat for transplanting. This later method was the one prevalent in the lowlands, where, as
in all primitive agriculture, farming was a function of the women, because hunting was the function of
men. But lowland hunting declined, the women’s agriculture became the more important function- and
women therefore became the predominant figures of society. They were the food-rowers, the priestess,
and the queens through whose side of the family ran the right to succession. Men were in a subordinate
position; the female was, you might say, in power. Such was the sexual picture in our society when
Christianity arrived among us. But the tools it introduced were to revolutionize our society and to
transform it into the Christian idea of an economy where it’s Adam who delves and Eve who spins.
The stick-and-mat of primitive agriculture requires little strength and can thus be handled by
women. But agriculture of plow, harrow, and spade and draft animal requires muscle. What happened
therefore among us was the introduction of the plow was male brawn had to take over such that had
traditionally belonged to women. Men became the agriculturist. And because men now are the foodgrowers, the male sex replaced the female as the dominant figure in the economy.
The rise of the Filipino macho was but one of the effects of Christianity on our economic culture.
Another was our advance from the subsistence level.
The early Spaniards found the Visayas a land of periodic famine. Lack of food forced Legazpi to
move from Cebu to Panay, where it turned out, the specter of hunger stalked us miserably.
The heartland of Luzon (the Tagalog and Pampango provinces) proved to be better provisioned,
but even there the picture was spotty. Just outside Soliman’s Manila was the village of Laguio (presentday Malate and Ermita), which an early Jesuit mission lamented as a place of destitute in everything.
Beyond the heartland’s fertile Central plain were the highlands of the north, where the food
problem was determined by the rice terraces so significant visually, so heart-breaking as the record of a
people’s struggle for subsistence on mountain rock.
That indeed was the problem: those bare hands, for the problem was a primitive agriculture and
almost total dependence on one kind of grain-rice- for survival.
The introduction of the plow was thus a major event in the Philippine culture; perhaps the major
event if coupled with such allied advances as the introduction of the draft animal, the irrigation canal, the
harrow, the spade and the hoe. A mountain of labor had been lifted from the farmer’s back by these tools,
where a beginning of technology spelled the end of purely manual agriculture. The machine entered
Philippine history and it symbolized by the wheel that revolutionized our culture at the same time as the
plow. The wheel means not only a shift to greater social mobility but also the start of industrial conditions.
Where the wheel has entered, the factory and the dynamo will not be far behind, nor the idea of mass,
surplus or production.
A few generations before Christianity brought us the wheel and plow, the Philippines was
exporting rice in Asia.
Moreover, wheel and plow made it possible for more food to be produced by fewer people. Not all
of society now had to be engaged in the soil-which meant that energy could now be released for activity in
the fields, like the sciences and the arts, endeavors which in turn improved the quality of life and widened
the latitudes of man’s freedom, now no longer confined to the effort of food growing.
It was wheel and flow that made it possible for us to produce, a Rizal, Juan Luna, a Manuel
Along with shell and plow came other events that by ending our total dependence on rice, brought
us ever closer to that condition which is the ideal society; freedom from hunger. One of these events was
the introduction of new livestock like the horse, the cow, the turkey, the goose, etc. and another event was
the introduction of new crops like corn, tobacco, camote, guava, coffee, cocoa, tea, pineapple, potato,
peanut, radish, lettuce, cabbage, squash, tomato, cassava, and so forth.
An invent itself would be the introduction of just the corn and camote because these two crops
have come staples almost as vital as rice to us Filipinos. It is said that one out of every three Filipinos is a
corn-eater, and one would guess that one out of seven Filipinos has camote for daily bread. If endemic
famine has been eradicated from the Visayas it’s because of the coming of the corn, a grain that has
proved to be better suited than rice on exhausted Visayan soil. And the threat of starvation no longer
looms so grimly over our isolated regions, its because of the coming of the camote, a crop that can
withstand the destruction wrought of typhoons even in such exposed areas as Leyte, Samar, Benguet and
the Batanes.
In more senses than one can corn and camote be called the crops of Christian charity, because
those who would give us not only the word of Christ but also his miracle of the multiplying loaves and
fishes brought them to us. From one seed of corn that an agent of Christ buried in our soil, and from one
camote plant that he trained to grow here, have ripened how many harvests to feed how many generations
of Filipinos. And those who bewail the coming of Christianity among us seem to be unaware that the are
still being fed today by those who fed our forefathers in the past and will still be feeding our children’s
children in the future. Against them cannot be hurled the old insult that they came promising us pie in the
sky by and by instead o giving us jelly in the belly right here and now. It’s they too who are responsible for
that guava jelly on your hot pan de sal being, incidentally, another of the multiplying foods they brought to
our stomach.
Yes who remembers who they were: these agents of Christ, these true culture heroes? Do we even
know their names? Are they credited for they brought to our country?
When ride that wheel or push that plow; when we munch mani or peel a piña, when we print a book
or use the Roman alphabet; when we feast of Laguna Turkey broil Batangas beef; when construct an arch
or build in stone; when toss a salad of Baguio greens or sauté a guisado of habichuelas verdes; when we
enjoy the shade of an ipil-ipil grove or bask in the beautiful garden; when we feel thankful for the horse we
ride to market or for the martin bird that kills the locust; when we breakfast on papaya or sup on repollodon’t we just assume that all these things have always been part of our own immemorial native culture?
During a PEN conference, a poet turned the folksong “Bahay Kubo” into an allegory in the
sincamas, sigadillas, mani, upo, calabaza, labanos,mustaza, sibuyaz, and kamatis of our bahay kubo
attact and are coveted and stolen by the invading agents of Christ. It never occurred to that poet that, in
fact, it was the agent of Christ who brought the sincamas, sigadillas, mani, upo, calabaza,
labanos,mustaza, sibuyaz, and kamatis to the Philippine bahay kubo. And that the poet is not alone in his
belief that our bahay kubo was already rich in sincamas, sigadillas, mani, upo, calabaza, labanos,mustaza,
sibuyaz, and kamatis etc., even before 1521. or in picturing the bringer of those food as thief us those
On a different occasion, another writer snorted that there may have been some good persons
among he so-called agents of Christ who invaded our land; but if these person did some good, why give
them any credit? Were they not, after all, supposed to do good.
The point of this writer seems to be that anyone who comes preaching the Gospel of Christ, is
expected to plant corn, raise vegetables, grow root crops and fruit trees, construct irrigation systems,
breed cattle, build roads and bridges, establish factories, organize towns and cities, promote the export
trade bring in new good tools and arts and techniques, and teach everyone how to use them. Whether or
not all these are expected from the agents of Christ, it’s certainly what the agents of Christ did in the
Philippines. And perhaps it’s true that they don’t deserve any credit, since they did it in the name of Chris,
we should feel grateful not to them but to their Master.
And so it’s maybe just as well that they are mostly unknown to us that they have no names or
faces for us, and move anonymously in our history. Thus, we now can, for example, say that it was Christ,
in the person of Jesuit, who in the 16th century introduced masonry in the Philippines, built our first stone
edifice, started quarrying Philippine adobe, was the first to teach us the art of planting, experimented with
the growing of mulberry trees here and the local manufacturer of silk cloth.
As we can also say that it was Christ, in the person of a Dominican, who introduced printing in the
Philippines and published the first book.
As we can also say that it was Christ, in the person of this or that Franciscans, who established
our first school, our first hospital, our first lepers asylum.
As we can also say that it was Christ, in the person of an Augustinian, who turned indigo into a
major Philippine manufacture and export.
And again, Christ, in the person of this Recollects, who carried the new tools to Mindanao and
there started the fight against slave trade.
And again, Christ, in person of a Jesuit, who by producing the first complete and correct map of
the Philippines, made it an entity visible to all the world, made its form and shape recognizable and
familiar to all Filipinos, and thus established the image of the Philippines and the idea of the Philippines
nationalism. For how can you love anything you’re ignorant of? It can be said that this land did not exist
as the Philippines until it emerged, fully revealed, in that missionaries map. From that moment of
epiphany, the Filipino had a nation that one of his forefathers- not Lapu-lapu and not Soliman and not
Kudarat- had any idea of. They were depending what we now see as parts of the whole, though, for each
of them, each respective part was that whole. But the wholeness of the Philippines, from Batanes to Sulu,
had become a commonplace for us who are nom longer aware that the look, the shape, the extent, the
very nature of the Philippines used to be unknown, were a mystery, were a puzzle, until this terra
incognito was turned into a national geography by a tool brought here by the agents of Christ: the toll
called a map.
That’s only one example of how such tool created in us a national consciousness. Which is the
reason I consider the coming of these tools so fateful, so momentous, for the Filipino. Whenever I’m
asked what I consider the twelve greatest events in history, it’s these economic revolutions triggered by
the coming Christianity that I cite, rather than the political events more usually cited, like the Cavite
Mutiny, the Propaganda, the revolution of the Malolos Congress – because I see this latter events as being
but the consequences of the more epochal events at the beginning of history. And I think that every
Filipino would give the same answer if he could only reply with this entire body, his entire being, with his
stomach as well as with his mind, with his guts as well as his heart. For the events I mean affected, and
continue to affect us in our total person: mind, heart, belly guts, bone and blood.
You can see what I mean from the list of what I consider the twelve greatest events of the
Philippines history:
The introduction of the Wheel
The introduction of the Plow.
The introduction of the roads and bridges.
The introduction of the new crops like corn, cabbage, tobacco,
camote, calabasa, potato, guava, habichelas, lechugas, coffee,
cocoa, tomato, melon, atis , cucumber, etc.
The introductions of the new livestock like the horse, cow, sheep
turkey, goose, and the carabao as the draft animal.
The introduction of the Fabrica of Factory.
The introduction of the paper and printing.
The introduction of the Roman alphabet.
The introduction of the clock and the calendar
10. The introduction of the map and the charting of the Philippine
11. The introduction of the arts of painting and architecture.
12. The introduction of the Guisado.
This is of course highly controversial and people have thought I was joking including the guisado
as an event. But the guisado is a technique we use at least three times a day, everyday of our lives. It
would be hard to overestimate its importance, possible to ignore that importance, unless we are bodiless
angels who can look down on the stomach as a gross human organ. Intellectuals may be shocked that I
should consider the guisado as event more that, say the printing of the Noli Me Tangere- but housewives
in their kitchen will surely agree that the guisado has more definitely enriched our culture. Its no insult to
Christianity, but rather an honor, to call the guisado a basic factor in Philippine Christian culture. And be
sure I’m not joking when I say that the guiosado has “baptized” such food as the pancit. Pancit may be
Chinese, but in our culture it is Christian Creole, because pancit came to us only with Christianity and
because of Christianity, and was transformed by the guisado into our Pancit Malabon, Pancit Luglog,
Pancit Palabok and Pancit Guisado.
Which brings us to major consequence of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines as to have
little or no effect on our primeval culture. But after the coming of Christianity, how radical the change is
geography! The Philippines, which for ages lay in the far-out fringes of the Orient, suddenly moves to
center stage, as it becomes during galleon days, the entrepot of oriental trade. Asia is suddenly upon us
and we suddenly all over Asia. The military campaign of 16 th, 17th, and 18th centuries carry the Filipino so
far and wide in the Orient that it becomes an identity in Borneo, in the Moluccas, in Formosa, in the Malay
Peninsula, in Indochina, in Macao, and even in Japan, where, as we now learn in astonishment, a Filipino
suffered Christian Martyrdom in the 17th century.
At the same time that we were going out of Asia, Asia was coming to us. It was too late to convert
us to use of chopsticks, or the craft of porcelain, or the tenets of Buddhism, but not too late to bring us
the last Indian Bazaar, the Chinese Panciteria, Arab bronze ware, Malay curries. Indochinese jewelry and
Japanese, halo-halo.
The best example of course, is the Chinese. Throughout the centuries before 1521, how many
Chinese settled in the Philippines? That didn’t do so implies that they considered us ” barbarians” for the
Chinese migrate only where city culture and organized government are well established. So, four relations
with the Chinese were confined to superficial trade more important to us than them. In this people whom
we claim to be our oldest visitors, we aroused no desire to convert and civilize” much less any desire to
dwell among us. To the Chinese we were ‘ a land fit for snakes and savages”.
But what a change in that attitude when the Philippines becomes Christians! Suddenly we aroused
in the Chinese a desire to invade and conquer us. Suddenly there is mighty influx, a mass immigration, to
our islands. And suddenly the Chinese among us who used to number in dozens begin to number in the
One result, alas, was the Chinese takeover of our retail trade. But another result, at last, was
acculturation. Every Chinese who became a Christian and married a Filipina brought into our culture the
culture of ancient Cathay, brought into our bloodstream the blood of Asia. Into Philippine life came
flooding such equipment as singkao and siangse, such loanwords as kuya and suli, such food as
sotanghon and lumpia, such wear as camisa and chinelas, all those other things that we now believe to
have been brought to us in ages past but which really entered our culture only after 1565, when the
Chinese began to settle here in great numbers and to intermarry with us. Then only then, did we become
pancit eaters.
Our “Signification” our “ Asianizing” was made possible only by Christianity.
Yet there are certain of our historians who now say that the coming of Christianity “alienated” us
from Asia! If the entrance of pancit into our culture is “alienation”, maybe we should ban pancit from our
However Asia did not pay for its previous snubbing of us. Asia should could no longer “convert
and civilize” us to the Asian manner. The Asian artifacts that came flooding into our culture after 1565
quickly acquire a Christian character quickly lost Asian style. Our kari kari is – and is not – Indian curry.
All the acculturation after 1565 could no longer “Asianize” us completely- as the critics of our culture
today so loudly regret. But who the hell is to blame. Asia had all those ages before 1521 to “Asianize” us,
and it failed to do so. After 1565-alas or hooray-we could no longer be stopped from developing a culture
with a Christian accent. I’m using the term Christian in a purely cultural, not a religious, sense. So, when
we say “culture with a Christian accent’” I am referring to the tradition that developed among us after
1564, when, despite the flood of Asian artifacts flowing into our culture, what the critics bewail as
“Western elements” prevailed over and overwhelmed what they call our “Asian heritage”, was actually a
belated effort of Asia to “convert or civilize” us. Alas, we were already “lost” Asia had been “aroused” too
To repeat, a tradition had already developed among us that emphasized, that accentuated, our
Christian culture. And the relation, in our economic culture, between trade and religion- as exemplified,
amusingly illustrates this tradition for instance, by the Philippine town fiesta.
A good example of this tradition still surviving to this day is the Fair of Knives in Malabon during
the fiesta of Saint Bartholomew in August. During the Malabon novena., the main street of the town are
lined with stalls manned by knife manufacturers from the southern Tagalog provinces, especially
Batangas; and at those stalls you can buy (and order) every kind of blade, from dainty table knives to
huge butcher’s cleaver, and from kitchen choppers to the deadly balisong, as well as the classic bolo and
But why this Fair of Knives in Malabon? Because the town patron id San Bartholomew, whose
image at the town church wields a bolo-, which is the reason, our knife makers have made him their
patron saint and his Malabon fiesta “Feast of Knives”. That native gulok (or bolo) is also known as the
sangbartolome, and has gone down in history as the weapon of the Katipunan.
The relation between trade and town fiesta is, in fact, so old and intimate that a treatise on that
relationship would come as a shock to those who decry the town fiesta as a symbol of waste, indolence
and extravagance. Rizal, who was so furious of the custom, maybe have forgotten hat his hometown fiesta
of Calamba, for instance, was the occasion for a great trade exposition, to which merchants from the lake
towns to sell their cottage cheese and turkeys (for which Laguna used to be famous)’ and also merchants
fro Batangas to sell their mats and oranges; and also the merchants from Tayabas to sell their honey and
dried deer meat, or tapang usa. At such times, the Calamba waterfront was crowded with cargo boats,; the
vessels of Chinese wholesalers from manila came hither to buy up the produce and manufacture of the
east coast. And the market place of Calamba would be lined with posts and railings at which to hitch the
ponies of tradesmen from the boondocks, on whose carts would be piled he products of southern Tagalog
As in Calamba, so it is everywhere else where its town fiesta turns community into a trade fair. So
picturesque are those May time carabaos that kneel in honor of San Isidro that we tend to forget how
those carabao fiestas used to serve (and generally still serve) as cattle fairs, to enable visiting dealers to
appraise the quality of stock. To the great fiesta of Naga you went not only to venerate the Virgin of
Peñafrancia but also to stock up on abaca rugs, candied Pili, and bottled nata de coco and nata de piña. It
would be strange to attend the fiesta of Baliuag and not come back with new hats, brooms and feather
There was a time when the fiesta of Parañaque and Las Piñas were also embroidered napkins,
tablecloths and baby dresses. The The Pangasina fiesta, especially that of the famed pilgrimage town of
Manaoag, served as showcase for the tobacco stocks of Ilocandia, and ment dealers traveled the fiesta
circuit in the Cagayan Valley, from Bayombong to Appari, to inspect the cows and goats brought in form
the hinterlands by the rancheros come to attend the fiesta.
As can be seen, a tradition like the town fiesta is a part not only of our religious but also our
economic culture. And San Bartolome, San Isidro and the Virgin of Peñafrancia belongs not only in
church also in field, shop, market, factory, brokerage, export office, commercial bank and stock exchange.
My point we end to think of Christianity in the Philippines as a matter of novenas and processions
when it’s time we realized how total is its presence in our culture, in every department of our culture.
Because we don’t recognize that fat, we can say and believe- that Christianity for us is but veneer, a
surface, a foreign coating, when it’s actually roots, massive roots going deep into our soil, into our
history, into our lives. I have only to mention the guisado to make you see in astonishment how
Christianity daily affects us. I have only to mention corn and camote to make you realize with a shock how
the agents of Christ are still feeding us today. If they did evil here, it can at least be said that the effects of
the good they did here have been far more enduring.
What then is Christianity in the Philippines?
What it is as religion- that is, Inner experience- only God can know. But what it is as a culture, as
culture, should be plain enough?
Christianity in the Philippines is wheel and plow, is irrigation dam and canal, is grain in the field
and fruit on the tree and vegetable in the garden, is Pangasinan oxen and Batangas beef and the horse at
eh rancherias, is tobacco factory and sugar refinery, is calendar and clock and recorded history and our
sense of Faustian time, is the cuisine that make us people and the map that makes us a nation, is the
trade that continuous to gather us under the sound of the bell.
We are always ready to say what Christianity is not?
Are you eager to say what it is?
Four centuries ago, an Englishman named Thomas More stood up to bear witness to what
Christianity is, at a time when people were more angrily concerned about the many things the Church was
not. Thomas More was no blind believer, if he did not fear to criticize, neither was he afraid to reaffirm.
And he made up for what the Christians of his time were not; by being what a Christian would be, both in
his life and in his death. He is a man for all seasons because he was a man of reason. If he had the strong
faith of an Aquinas, he also had the honest skepticism of a Didymus. He was not afraid to doubt, who was
not afraid of truth. And because he was a Doubting Thomas who insisted on asking questions, even
unbelievers can respect his testimony as a martyr to the cause of human culture.
O great Thomas More, unite in us as you so boldly unite yourself, both Aquinas and Didymus, both
faith and doubt, both the answer and the question. Make us realize the value of challenge-and-response,
of dialogue a dissent, and a sense of humor. And many all of us here, in our search for truth and wisdom,
be ever accompanied by the spirit of the three great Thomases: Aquinas, Didymus and More.
Thank you. I have spoken.
Reaction Paper
Due Date
: AUGUST 22, 2011
Title of Article :
What is the perception of the speaker on the influences made by Christianity on us as Filipinos?
Is the point of view of the author in accordance with your own insight? Explain
What is the relevance of the article to you?
Is this article worthy reading? Why?