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The Archivist Fr. Jose Femilou "Long" D. Gutay, OFM

Brief History of the OFM Archives in the Philippines


The Franciscans (OFM) arrived in the Philippines in 1578.  Since their arrival they maintained an archives of their records and materials pertinent to their presence and missions in the archipelago.  The archives of the Province of San Gregorio Magno de Filipinas was located then in the friary and Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Intramuros, Manila. It was also here that the Provincial Curia was situated.


The years preceding the inauguration of Philippine Independence in 1898 were tumultuous for the Franciscan missionaries. Fearing that the worst might befall the archives, the friars decided to ship a big bulk of their archival holdings to Macao for safekeeping.  They hoped to take them back to Manila if conditions in the colony would become favorable to the friars. But it did not turn out that way. The archival materials were then shipped to Spain and kept in the archives of Pastrana. Since then the archives had been known as the Archivo Franciscano Ibero Oriental. The AFIO was eventually moved to Madrid where it is still presently located.


The turn of events shortly after the revolution greatly affected the OFM presence in the country.  The seat of administration of the Province was transferred to Madrid in 1905. Only a handful of Spanish Franciscans remained in the Philippines. To ensure the continuous presence of the Franciscans in the Philippines, the Vicariate of St. Gregory the Great was eventually established in 1970.


Much of the archival materials left behind in Manila was subsequently lost in the aftermath of II World War. The Franciscan church and convento in Intramuros were reduced to ruins during the liberation of Manila by the Americans.


Following the inauguration of the Vicariate, the Vicarial Archives was also formally started in 1971. Fr. Cayetano Sanchez, OFM was appointed as Vicarial Archivist. The archives was temporarily set up at the Santuario de San Antonio Friary, Forbes Park, Makati.


When the Vicariate was elevated into a Province (San Pedro Bautista Province) in 1983, the Provincial Curia was transferred to St. Gregory Friary in San Francisco del Monte in Quezon City. From Makati, the archives was moved to the basement of the friary. Fr. Cantius Kobak, OFM was appointed archivist.


During the term of Fr. Pedro Ruano, OFM as archivist, a classification of the archival holdings was done through the assistance of Fr. Pedro Gil Munoz of the Spanish Province of St. Gregory the Great. Fr. Ruano was later replaced by Fr. Oscar Ante, OFM. When Fr. Ante became minister provincial, Fr. Dan Kroger took over. He was later on succeeded by Bro. Ramon Balana., OFM


In 1999, Fr. Jose Femilou Gutay, OFM was appointed provincial archivist. From the basement of the Provincial House, the archives was moved up to the third floor of the Annex Building. All the archival materials went through a fumigation process and a re-classification of the holdings was done. Air-conditioning units were installed so as to ensure temperature control and dehumidification.


At present, the Provincial Archives and Library is continuously expanding its holdings. It receives researchers and visitors from many institutions, schools, parishes, etc. from different parts of the country, and also from other parts of the world.


The Provinical Archives Office is also administering and maintaining the “Museo Franciscano” at the basement of the Provincial Curia. The Museo houses a modest collection of art works, liturgical and church vestments, vessels, artifacts, etc. from different Franciscan churches and conventos.