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Pila Laguna / Vocabulario dela Lengua Tagala

SOURCES FOR THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCISCANS IN THE PHILIPPINES

MARCELO DE RIBADENEYRA’S “FRANCISCAN HISTORY” (Barcelona, 1601 is a foil to Medina’s / his chronicle is characterized by its tone of disillusion /.  Ribadeneyra was an eloquent spokesman of the first generation of missionaries, who were inspired by a seemingly boundless optimism about the total success of the missionary enterprise. Ribadeneyra’s chronicle is invaluable for its account of Franciscan methods of indoctrination.  Actually, both the optimism of Ribadeneyra and the pessimism of Medina were exaggerated manifestations.  Subsequent chroniclers would take a more realistic view of missionary possibilities and accomplishment.

 

FRANCISCO DE SANTA INES ,  Whose work covers the period to  1600, does not add an unusual amount of new material about Franciscan activity. Juan de San Antonio’s three volumes, which bear a Manila print of 1738 – 1744, are more informative.  Based largely on Ribadeneyra’s published work and Juan de LLave’s unpublished manuscript, San Antonio’s work has much detailed material dealing with resettlement and indoctrination methods.  Like Santa Ines, San Antonio did not describe the 17th Century.  The Franciscans Emphasis on the 16th century to the exclusion of the seventeenth century can only be explained in terms of events in Japan.  They martyrdom of San Pedro Bautista in 1597 was the spectacular events that absorbed a good deal of the attention of the Franciscan Chroniclers.  Domingo Martinez’s compendium (1756) attempted to fill this wide vacuum in Franciscan historiography by covering the whole seventeenth make it, however, one of the least interesting of the Franciscan sources.

 

Two extra-Philippine accounts throw considerable lights on Franciscan activity in the islands. They are Moarcos de Alcala’s chronicle of the Discalced province in Mexico. The former is useful for the Spanish background of the Philippines Franciscans.  The latter also contains pertinent information, for the discalced province in Mexico belonged to the Observant branch of the Order” (John Leddy Phelan, The Hispanization of the Philippines / Madison, 1959 /, pp. 199-200).

 

To the authoritative information of Phelan we would like to add the following details.  Fr. Marcelo de Ribadeneyra was a close relative of Governor Dasmariņas, former Theology professor at the famous University of Salamanca,  and arrived in the Philippines 1594.  he went to Japan.  Where he was imprisoned and finally expelled from the country, hence he retuned to the Philippines passing through Macao. In 1598 he traveled all through the provinces entrusted to the Franciscans, gathering information for his Chronicle. A special attention deserved the chapters devoted to the missionary methods of the Franciscans and the results achieved, especially in the Bicol region.

 

In 1970, the Historical Conservation Society published an English translation of Fr. Rivadenayra’s Chronicle.  This laudable effort to make available to non-spanish readers the first printed account of the history of the Franciscans in the Philippines looses much of its value due to the extremely careless translation of the original Spanish.  This is the more regrettable as Fr. Ribadeneyra’s work is the only source available to English readers who would like to know something about the Franciscans.

 

Fr. Sta. Ines’ chronicle, though written as early as 1678 and approved by the General Commissary of the Indies in the 1681, remained in manuscripts form until 1892.

 

Granting Mr. Phelan’s contention that Fr. Martinez” Chronicle is one of the least interesting for lack of details and some superficiality, its interest on biographical data might make it one of the friars during the seventeenth century.  He wrote his Chronicle between the years 1705 and 1708.  but it was denied the official approval of the Provincial Definitorium, and remained in the archives till 1756.

 

For the first years of the history of the province, the most authoritative source is actually Fr. Antonio de Padua or de la Llave’s Chronicle.  Fr. Antonio arrived in the Philippines in 1590, as a valet of Governor Gomez Perez Dasmariņas, but two years later, probably moved by the fiery sermons and example of San Pedro Bautista, he became a Franciscan, changing his name of Gonzalo to that of Antonio.  He wrote the first Chronicle of the province, on which most of the others are based as far as the first years of the history of the province is concerned. The main characteristics of Fr. La LLave are his objectivity and reliability.  His accounts are also important for civil history due to his close relationship with Dasmariņas.  Unfortunately, however he refused to have it published, and until now is kept in manuscript form in our Provincial Archives in Pastrana, Spain.  The Biblioteca Filipina association had decided to have it published at the end of the last century, but the break of the revolution aborted its long overdue plan.

 

Franciscan and non-Franciscan historians are very familiar with two modern works that deal also with the history of the Province, namely Fr. Felix de Huerta’s Estados Geografico, published in the nineteenth century.  It gives a short summary of all the towns founded or administered by the Franciscans at that time, a list of the main writers of the Province, Bishops, saints, superiors, etc.,etc.

 

Then we have the well- known Catalogo-Biografico, by Fr. Eusebio Gomez Platero, printed in 1880, in which a short biography of all the missionaries that worked in the Philippines from the Inception of the Province to the time of publication of the book may be found.  Fr. Platero’s style is sobre, but objective and extremely reliable.

 

The most important and reliable author is Fr. Lorenzo Perez.  Though  the most modern of all historians of the Province, he was able to make ample use of the first hand sources not available to others, which enable him to tstraighten out many points no one ever questioned before,  and bring out a series of extremely important documents that draw new light on entire periods of the history of the Province.  He died in 1937 and his publications are scattered in a good number of Spanish as well as international periodicals, of which the most important is Archivo Ibero Americano.

 

Fr. Antolin Abad and Fr. Mariano Rubio, in a more recent times have also made valuable contribution to the history of the Franciscans in this country.  Their publications have appeared in Archivo Ibero Americano, Espana Misionera, Missionalia Hispanica and other Spanish publications.

 

A considerable number of documents included in this collection have been taken from the monumental collection The Philippine Islands (1493 -1803), by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Roberson, in fifty four volumes (54)

GRANT OF A PLENARY INDULGENCE TO ALL THE FAITHFUL WHO VISIT CHURCHES OF THE FRIARS MINOR / IN THE INDIAS, CHINA, AND THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS / NOV. 15, 1578

 

To all the faithful of Christ who view these present letters, health and apostolic blessing:

 

With solicitude, as is the duty of our pastoral office, for the health of the Lord’s flock entrusted by divine arrangement to our unworthy care, we willingly invite the faithful of that flock, all and singular, to visit churches and perform pious and meritorious works, in order that with aid of divine grace, through spiritual largesse, indulgences (namely), and the pardoning of sins, they may the more easily reach the joys of everlasting happiness.  For in the Indias, China, and the Philippine Islands.  We desire that the churches already founded, or to be founded within the next ten years, and each one thereof belonging to the monasteries or houses of the discalced brethren known as the Order of Minor of St. Francis of Observance be held in due veneration by the faithful of Christ themselves that frequenting to those churches with greater readiness for the sake of devotion, they thereby may find themselves more fruitfully refreshed through the bestowal of heavenly grace.  Therefore, relying on the  mercy of Almighty God and the authority of his blessed apostles Peter and Paul, we mercifully in the Lord grant and bestow a plenary indulgence and remission of all their sins, on all the faithful of Christ of either sex, who truly penitent and confessed each year, visit devoutly the aforesaid churches, or any of them on the first and second day of the month of August, as well as the feasts of St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Clare, St. Louis, and St. Bernardine, and these, during their visit shall, from the first vespers to sunset of those days and feasts, pour forth pious prayers to God for the exaltationof Holy Mother Church, the uprooting of heresies, and the conversion of the peoples of those regions to the Catholic faith.  These presents are to hold for all times.  But, as it would be difficult to have these present letters carried to all and singular the places where needed, we desire, and by our apostolic authority decree, that to copies of them bearing the seal of any person in ecclesiastical rank, the same respect shall be paid as would be given to the originals themselves, were they shown.  Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, under the seal of the Fisherman, on the fifteenth day of November, one thousand five hundred and seventy eight , the seventh year of our pontificate.

 

THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, by Blair and Robertson, vol. IV pages 136 -137

 

 

 

 

THE FRANCISCANS IN MINDORO.

 

The island of Mindoro also shared in this good fortune.  In its cultivation were employ fathers Fray Francisco de Ortega and Fray Diego de Moxica.  They after having founded the village of Baco, endured innumerable misfortunes in a painful captivity, hoping for hours for that death, which they anxiously desired in order to beautify their heads wit a painful martyrdom.  But in order that one might see that although the former worked above their strength, much remained to be done by their successors,  I shall cite here the exact words of father Fray Gaspar de San Agustin in his Historia.  “The convent he says, “that we had in that island / of Mindoro, added by Assis/ was in the village of Baco.  Thence the religious went out to minister to the converted natives.  The latter were very few and the religious suffered innumerable hardships because of the roughness of the roads and the bad climate of the region.”

 

The discalced sons of St. Francis (minor for the their humility, but greatest maximos by the fires which they could cast from themselves in order to burn up the world) arrived in Manila in the year 1577.  thence like flying clouds, whose centers were filled with very active volcanoes, they were scattered through various parts of the islands.  They were regarded them as persons who despises the riches of earth, and though only of filling the vacant seats of glory.  One of the places where their zeal for the salvation of souls was predominant was the land of Mindoro which had been ceded by the discalced Augustinian fathers.  There, not being content with what had been reduced, they extended the lights of the catholic faith at the expense of the great efforts,  in the direction of Pola and Calavite.  Those who labored most in those places to communicate the infinite blessing to souls were fathers Fray Esteban Ortiz and Fray Juan de Porras, who were great leaders among the first religious of the seraphic discalced order who went to Philippines.  But since the fire is kept up in matter in proportion as it abounds in commensurate inclinations, various fields having been discovered in other parts which were full of combustible dry fuel most fitting to receive the heat of charity, which gives light to the beautiful body of the faith; and seeing that rational fuel of Mindoro would not allow themselves to be burned for their good, with the quickness that was desired; they thought it advisable to abandone the little for so much, and to go first to Ilocos and secondly to Camarines where they hoped for more abundant fruits in return for their holy zeal.  (Pedro de San Francisco de Asis, OAR, Historia General de los Religiosos Descalzos de San Agustin, Zaragoza, 1756.  see The  Philippine Islands, by Blair and Robertson, vol. 41, pp. 162 -164).

 

Fr. Juan de la Concepcion, in his Historia gives as the same information, with a few additional ramarks:

 

“Captain Juan de Salcedo made a beginning in the conquest of the district of Manburao, in year 1570.  That conquest was completed from the point of Burruncan to that of Calavite by the adelantado Miguel de Legazpi, in the beginning of the following year.  Gradually the remainder was subdued by the missionaries, by whose treatment the rudeness of the manners of those people was softened.  Consequently, the encomienda of that large island was very desirable.  The Obsevant Augustinian fathers were employed in its spiritual cultivation and founded the village of Baco.  The discalced fathers of St. Francis also labored there for some time it being ceded to them, by the Observant Augustinians.  They worked along Calavite side to Pola which they abandoned either because those natives were not at all disposed /to accept the faith/, or because those fathers had slight esteem for that islands when compared with what was offered them in Ylocos and Camarines.  (Juan de la Concepcion, OSA, Historia General de Filipinas, Manila 1788 – 1792.  See the Philippine Islands, by Blair and Robertson, Vol. 41, pp. 236).

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