The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 - Volume 41 of 55, 1691-1700
Author: Various
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The Catholic faith makes new progress in Philipinas through the preaching of our religious. Death of some religious in Espana of great reputation.

Sec. I

A great multitude of heathen Tagabaloyes who lived in the mountains near the district of Bislig, is converted in the island of Mindanao by the preaching of our tireless laborers.

600. [The author draws a parallel between the capture of Jericho by the Hebrews and the evangelization of the Philippines. When God pleases, the walls of idolatry must fall.] This maxim has followed our reformed order in the Philipinas, and has been proved many times. For contending almost continuously with paganism fortified in the mountains contiguous to the districts reduced to their administration, although they were disappointed by not few fatigues, without being able to sing victory, they were at last crowned with triumphs when it appeared fitting to divine Providence. We have seen and shall see several activities that prove this truth. At the present we are offered the feats performed in the mountains of Bislig.

601. The district of Bislig, which is the last and most distant from Manila among those possessed there by our reformed order, is located in Carhaga, in the island of Mindanao and consists of five villages. These are Bislig, which is the chief one, Hinatoan, Catel, Bagangan, and Carhaga. At its beginning the province was named from the last one, as it was then the settlement of the greatest population. Two religious only are generally designated for the spiritual administration of this district, and they have too much work in the exercise of it. For the villages are located at great distances from one another, the people are especially warlike, they are contiguous to the Moros, those irreconcilable enemies, while the sea of those districts on which they have to travel from one village to another, is extremely boisterous, rough, and at times impassable, and on its reef in the dangers already mentioned, several religious have lost their lives, as will be patent further on in this history. But, notwithstanding that the two religious assigned to those villages can scarcely attend fully to the direction of the Christian Indians, and although because of the dearth of religious from which our reformed order almost always suffers in those islands, but rarely could more subjects be employed there, those few following the maxim practiced there of one doing the work of many, they did not cease to solicit ever the conversion of the surrounding heathens, who are very numerous in those mountains.

602. There is especially so great a number of heathen Indians and barbarous nations in certain mountains that extend along the coast, from opposite Carhaga near Bislig (a distance of about twenty-five leguas, while it is not known how far they extend inland), that even the Christian Indians do not know them all. The nearest nation to our villages is that of the Tagabaloyes, who are so named from certain mountains which they call Balooy. They live amid their briers without submission to the Catholic faith or to the monarchy of Espana. Those Indians are domestic, peaceable, tractable, and always allied with the Christians, whom they imitate in being irreconcilable enemies of the Moros. They are a very corpulent race, well built, of great courage and strength, and they are at the same time of good understanding, and more than half way industrious. That nation is faithful in its treaties, and constant in its promises, as they are descendants, so they pride themselves, of the Japanese, whom they resemble in complexion, countenance, and manners. Their life is quite civilized, and they show no aversion to human society. All those of the same kin, however extensive, generally live in one house, the quarters being separated according to the families. Those houses are built very high, so that there are generally two pike lengths from the ground to the first floor. The whole household make use of only one stairway, which is constructed so cunningly, that when all are inside they remove it from above, and thus they are safe from their enemies. Many of those Tagabaloyes live near the Christians, and those peoples have mutual intercourse, and visit and aid one another. They do not run away from our religious, but on the contrary like to communicate with them, and show them the greatest love and respect. Hence any ministers can live among them as safely as in a Christian village.

603. It is now seen how suitable are all these districts to induce so docile a nation to receive our holy faith. But for all that, very little progress was made in their reduction until the year 1671, and then it was that the care and the continual preaching of Ours obtained it. Besides the will of God, whose resolutions are unsearchable, there were several motives of a natural order, which made the attempts of the evangelical ministers fruitless. The first was the continual wars with the Moros. That fact scarcely permitted the Christians and even the Tagabaloyes to let their weapons out of their hands. With the din of arms the Catholic religion, always inclined to quiet and peace, can generally make but little progress. The second consisted in the little or no aid rendered in this attempt by the alcalde-mayor, the military leaders of Catel, and even some chiefs of the subject villages. All of the above were assured of greater profits in their trade and commerce, if those Indians were heathens than if they were Christians; and it is very old in human malice that the first objects of anxiety are the pernicious ideas of greed, and the progress of the faith is disregarded if it opposes their cupidity.

604. But the strongest reason for the failure of the desired fruit was the third. This reason is reduced, as we have already mentioned, to the fact that there were but two religious generally in the said district, and of those no one could be in residence at the villages of Catel or Carhaga, the nearest ones to the said mountains, and they only went thither two or three times per year. Consequently, although they wished never so strongly to labor in the conversion of the heathen Indians, they could not obtain the fruit up to the measures of their desires. It happened almost always that the minister was detained a fortnight at most, in the said villages, the greater part of which was necessarily spent in instructing the Christians. And although, by stealing some hours from sleep, the minister employed some of them in catechizing the heathens, since his stay was so short, he could not give the work the due perfection, and left it in its beginning, as he had to go to the other villages. He charged some Christians to continue in preparing and cultivating those souls so that they might be ready on his return to receive baptism. But human weakness, united to the sloth, which almost as if native to him, accompanies the Indian, was the reason that when the religious returned after an interval of four or six months, instead of finding the work advanced, he found that which he himself had done in it lost. And idolatry always triumphed, notwithstanding that he did not cease to make vigorous war upon it.

605. Thus time rolled on, and the Church obtained very little increase in those mountains, for the three above-mentioned reasons. The order could not conquer the two first, and there was less possibility for the third. For however much the order desired to apply on its part the only means whereby the desired fruit could be obtained, namely, the assignment of a religious to reside in the said places, who should look after the reduction of the Tagabaloyes, without attending to any other thing, it was continually unable to effect that, for in Philipinas the harvest is very great and the laborers few. I have detained myself in the consideration of these obstacles, which threaten the total devastation of the heathendom of Philipinas, and are transcendental to all the holy orders, who are striving to spread the faith in the said islands. For some believe (and more than two have expressed as much to me here in Espana in familiar conversation) that the reason why the heathenism of those countries has not been ended, is because the missionaries do not work with the same spirit as they did at the beginning. But they are surely deceived, for in addition to the many other reasons that may be assigned, the three above-mentioned suffice to render the most laborious efforts vain. The same tenacity, zeal, and courage of the first laborers accompanies those who have succeeded them. Let the obstacles be removed, and one will see that (as has been experienced many times) Belial having been destroyed and cut into pieces, although many render him adoration, the Catholic faith triumphs in the ark of the testament. This happened at the time of which we treat in the mountains of Bislig.

606. The year, then, of 1671 came, in which that holy province held their chapter and father Fray Juan de San Phelipe, a native of Nueva Espana, who had taken our holy habit in the convent of Manila, was elected provincial. That religious had lived for some years in Bislig, and had known by experience how necessary it was for a missionary to live in residence near the mountains, where so great infidelity was fortified, in order to establish there the health-bringing dogmas of our Catholic religion. Scarcely was he elected superior prelate, since he had a sufficient number of subjects in order to attend to all parts, when he resolved to place one of them in residence at Catel, and to order such an one solemnly that he should from there procure the reduction of those heathens by all means without engaging in other cares, however useful they seemed to him. He also gave very rigorous orders to the father prior of Bislig to the effect that whenever they could without any omission in the spiritual administration of the other villages, he or his associates should go to reside in the village of Carhaga, and be there in residence as much as possible, all three religious concurring in that great work and aiding one another mutually for the attainment of so well conceived desires. Finally he arranged matters with so much acumen that if the lack of religious had not rendered it impossible after such ideas had been put into practice, it is probable that they would have subdued all the heathens of those mountains.

607. In August 1671 that project was begun to be put into operation; and although we have not yet been able to get detailed information of the laborers, who were employed in it, on account of which we cannot place their names in this history, we shall have the consolation of knowing that they will not be omitted from the book of life. It is certain that all three religious conspired together in bringing to the delicious net of the Church those misguided souls, and they shirked no toil that might help in their object. They made raid after raid into those mountains; one from Catel, one from Carhaga, and one from Bislig, penetrating to their highest peaks, and their deepest valleys in all their extent from the promontory of Calatan nearly to the cape called San Agustin. All three of them at the same time were careful to assist the Christians in the spiritual administration. They preached, catechized, attracted the people by argument, by art, by prudence. And as some truce occurred in the war with the Moros at that time, and as they obtained at the same time a very Christian alcalde-mayor who aided them and caused all his subordinates to aid them in so holy zeal, so much fruit was obtained that when the father provincial went on his visit in February 1673, he found that they had already baptized more than three hundred adults without reckoning those who had been purified in the waters of grace in sickness and had immediately died. The latter were as many as one hundred counting great and small.

608. Thus did the above-mentioned father provincial, Fray Juan de San Phelipe, write to our father vicar-general under date of July 5, of the same year. And after, on June 26, 1674, he adds that, according to the relations sent to the chapter by the father prior of Bislig, that district had increased by two hundred tributes. This, according to the reckoning in vogue there, means eight hundred souls. They had all been allured from the mountains and from the horrors of their paganism to become inhabitants of the villages already formed, and to live in civilized intercourse among the pleasant lights of the Christian name. This well premeditated idea has since then been followed as has been possible by the successors of our father, Fray Juan de San Phelipe, whenever the small number of religious has not rendered it impossible. For in some chapters of that holy province, repeated determinations are seen to place a minister in residence at Catel, so that he may exercise the means conducive to that end. Hence it is that father Fray Juan Francisco de San Antonio has inserted the following narrative in his seraphic chronicle. He says: "Some of the Tagabaloyes are living now in old villages who have become Christians, and others are being reduced by the zeal and cultivation of the discalced Augustinian fathers, who hold them as inhabitants of Bislig." [29] And it is confirmed that although the district of Bislig was formerly one of the smallest in the number of its parishioners, it is now one of the largest in Mindanao, and there is no other reason for its increase.

[The two following sections of this chapter detail several miraculous happenings that aided not a little in the conversion of the region inhabited by the Tagabaloyes. In 1662 when the Spaniards abandoned the island of Ternate, because of the Chinese pirate Kuesing, one of the religious images taken away with them was of the Virgin. That image was given by the governor of Ternate to the alcalde-mayor of Caraga, who in turn gave it to the garrison of Catel. From its position there it was known as "La Virgen de la Costa" or, the Virgin of the hill, "for costa in the language of the country, is the same as castillo [i.e., redoubt]." The influence of this image was far reaching and it distributed many blessings and favors to its devotees in times of drought, in plagues of locusts, and during epidemics, and performed other miracles that gave it lasting fame. Another image of the Christ crucified was revered in a village near Bislig, and was later given a place in the Recollect church at Manila. It was a small ordinary image such as was used on the altar during mass. As it was very ugly and misshapen the priest determined to bury it, ordering some of the natives to perform that task. But when the hole was dug, and they went to get the image, in its place they found the most beautiful and symmetrical image that they had ever seen, and nailed to the same cross. The transformation was announced to be of divine origin, and this image was accordingly revered as miraculous; and it proved itself to be so in the future. On account of the miracles that occurred in the Caraga district the people became more devout Christians and many abandoned their ancient practices. The remainder of this chapter does not deal with Philippine matters; as do neither of the two following chapters.]


The Catholic faith is advanced by the preaching of Ours in various places in the Philipinas. The death of two religious in Talavera de la Reyna with great reputation.

The year 1677

Sec. I

The evangelical trumpet resounds in various territories of Philipinas, and especially in the ridges of Linao, and in the mountains of Cagayan, in the island of Mindanao, by the means of our missionaries; and many heathens are converted to the Christian religion.

714. It has ever been a very common complaint among historians of the order, and all make it, of time the destroyer of all things and of the neglect in leaving advisory news thereof. There is no doubt that for these two reasons the memory of many valiant deeds of excellent religious, who have filled our discalced Recollect order with honors in the Philipinas Islands, who have extended the Catholic faith untiringly at the cost of unspeakable hardships, and destroyed the abominable altars of heathen blindness, have been lost. But never more than at present does that complaint appear justifiable, when we begin to treat of the progress of Christianity in the districts of Linao and Cagayan, villages of the island of Mindanao, one of the Philipinas. There was the evangelical trumpet heard by dint of members of our reformed order, with memorable fruit.... Let us pass then to mention what we have been able to bring to light from the confused memories which time excused.

715. In the year 1674, father Fray Joseph de la Trinidad, a native of Zaragoza, was elected provincial in Philipinas. That apostolic laborer had always had great zeal for the conversion of souls. Agitated by that sacred fire that burned without consuming his heart which fed it, he worked in his own person, as much as he who did most, so that all the heathens of that distant archipelago should embrace, believe, and reverence the faith of the true God, in whose name only is found salvation. For that purpose he went not only once into the highest peaks of Zambales, in order to illumine their darkness with the Catholic light or to lose his life in so heroic an act of charity. He desired with unspeakable anxiety to be given the opportunity to make a sacrifice of his blood by shedding it in so good warfare, in confirmation of the truth which he was preaching. "When shall I have the desirable happiness," he exclaimed to his pious fellow countryman, San Pedro Arbues, "of being made a good martyr from a bad priest by the merciful God?" That desire we see already had made him leave every fear; and consequently, without any horror of death, notwithstanding that it represented itself to him as to all, full of bitterness, he placed himself in excessive dangers, in order that he might whiten with the water of baptism the souls of the inhabitants of those ridges, so that in their darkened bodies they might obtain the beauty of grace. Thus was his practice throughout his life, not only in the above-mentioned district, but also in other places of the many which are entrusted to us in those vast territories, and if he did not effectively obtain the crown of martyrdom, yet the merited reward will not be lacking to such prowess.

716. He did that when he was not the superior prelate, but afterwards when he became provincial, he flew with his cares to undertakings of almost infinite breadth. He beheld very near the great empire of China, peopled by an incredible multitude of souls, almost all of them seated in the shadows of death, and their acute intellects ignorantly disturbed in the obscure darkness of their errors. The mission so often craved by our reformed order to those countries, was the first object of his zealous heart. He could not be satisfied with trying to send others as evangelical laborers, but he tried with the greatest seriousness to abandon the glory of the provincialate, in order that he might be employed personally in an expedition so much to divine service, and his inability to accomplish it cost him many a bitter sob. He became a sea of tears, when he thought of the distant kingdoms (also almost in sight) of Japon, Borney, Sumatra, Tunquin, Cochinchina, Mogol, Tartaria, and Persia; for most of those who have their wealth and amenities live but as mortals basely deceived by their brutish worships, in order to die eternally in the more grievous life. To some of those places and especially to Japon, he had practical ideas of sending missionaries, and even of going thither in person, and he made the greatest efforts for that purpose. And although he did not obtain the end of his desires, because of the obstructions which the common enemy is wont to place to such works, such eagerness cannot but be praised very highly; and consequently, they will have been rewarded with great degrees of glory, because of what he was trying to communicate to the souls of others.

717. Since, then, he could not accomplish so well conceived love which extended itself to the salvation of the whole world, he set in operation the maxims which his burning charity dictated to him in regard to the extensive limits entrusted by the Lord of the vineyard of the Philipinas for the cultivation of our holy discalced order, with a so visible utility to the Church. In the first place he arranged with admirable prudence that certain missionary religious should incessantly travel through the villages of our administration, like swift angels or like light clouds in order to preach the obligation of their character to the Christian Indians. They were to advise them at the same time to take the sacraments frequently, of the horror of idolatry, of the love of the faith, of obedience to the Church, and to the appreciable submission to the Catholic king from which so many blessings would follow to them, and by which they would be delivered from innumerable evils. For that purpose he assigned two religious of the Visayan language, one of the Tagalog, and one of the Zambal—all of the spirit that such an occupation demanded. He ordered each one of them to make continual journeys through the large and small settlements of the district of his language, preaching the mission with the same formalities that they are wont to observe in Europa. He also ordered the father priors of the respective districts to give such fathers every aid for that apostolic ministry, both temporal and spiritual, as such was for the service of God and the greater purity of our Catholic faith.

718. The profits and good effects that followed that undertaking happily instituted, and reduced to fact with rare success, cannot be easily explained. Oh would that the lack of religious almost transcendental in all times in that province did not prevent the prosecution and perpetuity of so holy a custom by which unspeakable harvests of spiritual blessings were obtained, although some temporal riches should be spent in it. It is true that the ministers of parish priests of our said order who live continually in the villages, attend to those duties without avoiding any toil. But since they always live among their parishioners, and treat them so near at hand, and since they exercise over them a certain kind of authority, greater than that which the curas in Espana possess, it will not be imprudent to observe (considering human weakness, and the cowardice of the Indians), that some will not go to confess to those said parish priests without great fear, the common enemy infusing them with fears lest the parish priests perhaps will punish them for the sins that they might confess. Let us add to this that there are no other confessors on whom to rely, especially in the districts which are at some distance from Manila. Also it is almost impossible as our ministries are located, for the Indians to go from one village to another for that purpose. For these reasons, I myself have experienced, and I have heard it asserted by many curates that too many sacrilegious confessions are made, for sins are kept hidden out of shame, to the deplorable ruin of souls. All the above impediments cease undeniably so far as the missionaries are concerned. Hence one can infer the great fruit that would be gathered in spiritual matters by means of the profitable idea which was invented by our father Fray Joseph and put in practice in his time with the utmost ardor.

719. Besides that, by causing his subjects to multiply, since not in number, at least in their courage for work, the vigilant superior ordered those who were in the ministries to perform with the utmost effort what they had always done, namely, that they should not be content with directing the souls of the faithful to heaven, but should strive with might and main for the conversion of the heathen. And since the fire of love as regards God, their provincial, and their neighbors, burned with intensity in those gospel laborers, one can not imagine how greatly the activity of that fire, strengthened with the breath of the exhortation of so worthy a prelate, was increased and worked outside. We can assert without any offense to anyone else what has already been suggested in other parts of this history, namely, that our discalced religious in the Philipinas Islands, outstripped all the other religious in the so meritorious quality of suffering hardships. [30] The villages most distant from Manila, those that offer less convenience for human life, those with the most ferocious people, and all surrounded by Moros, by heathens, and by other barbarous Indians, in regard to whom any confidence would be irrational, are the ones in our charge. And adding to this that one minister generally has charge of many settlements, which are at times located in distinct islands, one can easily see how many fatigues, sweatings, and how much weariness will be caused by the spiritual administration of those who are enlisted in the Catholic religion. What will all that be then, if they have to attend also to the reduction of so great a number of souls, who live lawless in idolatry in sight of the law of grace! I repeat that our Recollects, equal in their zeal to the other gospel laborers, exceed them there without difficulty in the necessary opportunities for suffering. Moreover, if our brothers have the advantage at all times in this regard of other missionaries, those of the triennium of which we are speaking, excelled themselves, for they labored more than ever in the administration of the faithful and in the conversion of the heathen.

720. But the greatest efforts that the venerable father provincial put forth, and the places where the religious assigned for that work labored with excessive fervor, were in the districts of Butuan and Cagayan, which are located in the island of Mindanao. There was a heathen Indian called Dato Pistig Matanda, who had been living for many years on the banks of the river Butuan between the villages of Linao and Hothibon. He was of noble rank, a lord of vassals, and had great power and a not slight understanding, although he was corrupted with an execrable multitude of vices. He, instigated by the devil, had caused all the efforts of the evangelical ministers to return fruitless for many years; for idolatry maintained not only in the castle of his soul, but as well in all the territory of his jurisdiction, the throne which it had usurped, and the continual assaults which were made without cessation against that obstinate heart by the members of our discalced order had no effect. Several religious had endeavored to make him submit to the sweet yoke of the evangelical law, and they availed themselves with holy zeal of all the stratagems which, as incentives, generally attract the human will to reason and open the door to grace in order that it may work marvels. Especially did the holy father Fray Miguel de Santo Thomas, make use of all the means that he considered fitting to reduce the Indian chief to the true sheepfold as well as those who were strayed from it in his following, during the whole time that he graced that river by his presence. But experience proved that God reserved the triumph solicited on so many occasions for the happy epoch of which we are treating at present, for his own inscrutable reasons. At that time then the divine vocation working powerfully and mildly, and availing itself as instruments of our religious who resided in Butuan and in Linao, softened that erstwhile bronze heart and he not only received baptism, but also tried by all means to have his vassals do the same. Hence, leaving out of account a great number of children, the adults who were reengendered in the waters of salvation and became sons of God and heirs of glory, exceeded three hundred.

721. At the same time another father, who had a residence in the village of Linao, notably advanced our Christian religion in places thitherto occupied by infidelity. The mountains of that territory are inhabited by a nation of Indians, heathens for the greater part called Manobos [31]—a word signifying in that language, as if we should say here, "robust and very numerous people." When those Indians are not at war with the Spaniards, they are tractable, docile, and quite reasonable. They have the very good peculiarities of being separated not a little from the brutish life of the other mountain people thereabout; for they have regular villages, where they live in human sociability in a very well ordered civilization. Although the above qualities, as has been seen, are very apropos for receiving the faith, notwithstanding that fact, although some of them are always reduced, they are very few when one considers the untiring solicitude with which our missionaries unceasingly endeavor to procure it. The reasons for so deplorable an effect are the same as we have mentioned in regard to the conversion of the Tagabaloyes Indians. But during the provincialate of our father Fray Joseph de la Trinidad, either because those obstacles ceased, or because divine grace wished to extend its triumphs, the results were wonderful. A very great number of those Manobos were admitted into the Church—how many is not specified by the relations which we have been able to investigate, but we only see that they were many; for it is asserted that while the district of Butuan, to which Linao belonged, consisted before that time of about three thousand reduced souls, its Christianity increased then by about one-third, the believers thus being increased for God and the vassals for the king.

722. In the mountains of Cagayan, shone also the light of disillusionment, without proving hateful but very agreeable to rational eyes, for it caught them well disposed. The zealous workers of our Institute, shaken with the zeal of the venerable father provincial, devoted themselves to felling that bramble thicket which was filled with buckthorns of idolatry and even with thorns hardened in the perfidious sect of Mahomet. Three religious, who glorified that district, attended to so divine an occupation, stealing for it from the rest of the moments that were left to them from the spiritual administration which was the first object of their duty. They extended their work toward the part of Tagaloan, and even penetrated inland quite near the lake of Malanao through all the mountains of their jurisdiction. There like divine Orpheuses they converted brutes into men by the harmonious cithara of the apostolic preaching and those who were living, in the most brutish barbarity to the Christian faith, which is so united to reason. Thus did they reduce more than one hundred tributes to the villages of the Christians. That was a total of five hundred souls who were all drawn from their infidelity or apostasy. That triumph was so much more wonderful as at that time the war of the Malanao Moros against the presidio of Cagayan was more bloody, and it is verified by experience that in all contests, the Catholic faith generally advances but little amid the clash of arms. But their increases, which we have related (as obtained in the triennium of the venerable father, Fray Joseph de la Trinidad, which was concluded in April, 1677) appear from several letters written in Manila by the most excellent religious in June and July of the above-mentioned year, and directed to our father the vicar-general, Fray Francisco de San Joseph, which have been preserved in the archives of Madrid.

[Section ii of this chapter relates a number of miraculous occurrences in the villages of Butuan, Linao, and Cagayan, and their districts—miracles which were greater than the recovery of health on receiving baptism, at the reading of the gospels, or after drinking the water left in the chalice after the sacrament, all of which were very common and little regarded. Those miracles had great weight in reducing those people to the Christian faith. For instance the dato above mentioned, Putig (or Pistig) Matanda, was converted after the successful exorcism of demons that had troubled his village. It is related in this section that "for reasons that seemed fitting, the convent and church of Butuan were moved to the beach from their previous location; but it was afterward reestablished there, one legua from the sea upstream." One of these years also the village of Cagayan suffered greatly from the scourge of smallpox which was formerly so common in the Philippines. Section iii treats of Spanish affairs. Section iv deals with the life of Fray Melchor de la Madre de Dios who died in the Recollect convent of Talavera de la Reyna, Spain, May 30, 1677. He was born in Nueva Segovia or Cagayan in Luzon, his father being Juan Rodrigues de Ladera. While still young his parents removed to Manila where he studied until the age of twenty the subjects of grammar, philosophy, and theology. Although he was apt, he found himself below others not so clever as himself because the pleasures of the world appealed to him too strongly. Consequently, he quit his studies in disgust, and gave himself to trade, "the occupation of which is not considered disgraceful there to people of the highest rank." But his evil courses still prevailed and during his several trips to Acapulco he succeeded only in wasting his money. Returning to Manila after his final voyage, he gave up some of his worst vices, but still kept a firm grip of the world. He must have taken up his neglected studies again, but almost nothing is known of him until he reached his thirty-third year. It is said by some that he became a priest before joining the Recollect order, but there is a lack of definite knowledge on that score. At any rate he did not abandon his rather loose way of living. In the midst of his vices he had always been greatly devoted to St. Augustine, and his conversion finally occurred on the eve of that saint. Then a vision of the saint who appeared to him caused his conversion and an enthusiasm that never left him. He became a novitiate in the Recollect convent of Manila that same year 1639 and professed in 1640. After preaching with great clearness and force in Manila which had been the scene of his excesses, he was sent as missionary to the Visayan Islands, where he worked faithfully and well. But breaking down in health because of his strenuous life in the snaring of souls, he was compelled to retire to the convent of Cebu and then to that of Manila. It being impossible for him to accomplish much work longer in the Philippines because of his health, he begged and received permission to go to Spain for the remainder of his life. When he went is uncertain, but it was after 1656, for that year he was in Siargao in the province of Caraga. After his arrival at Madrid he was assigned to the convent of Talavera de la Reyna, where his memory was revered after death for his good works.]

[Chapter viii notes the twelfth general chapter of the Recollect order held at the convent at Toboso. Philippine votes were lacking, due probably to the non-arrival of delegates in time. The remainder of the chapter does not concern the Philippines.]


Our province of Philipinas takes charge of the spiritual administration of the island of Mindoro where several convents are founded. Several religious venerated as saints, end their days in Espana.

The year 1679

Sec. I

Description of the island of Mindoro, and considerations in regard to its spiritual conquest, which was partly obtained before our discalced order assumed its administration.

... 785. Mindoro is located in the center of the islands called Philipinas. It is surrounded by all those islands, and is encircled by them in a close band as the parts of the human body do the heart. It has a triangular shape whose three ends are three capes or promontories, one of which is called Burruncan and looks to the south, another looks to the north and is called Dumali, while the third which looks to the west is called Calavite. In regard to its extent, Mindoro comes to be the seventh in size among all the islands of that great archipelago. [32] It is about one hundred leguas in circumference. Its climate is very hot, although the continual rains somewhat temper its unendurable heat. In its rains it exceeds all the other nearby islands. However this relief bears the counterpoise of making the island but little favorable to health, because of the bad consequences of the heat accompanied by the humidity. But for all that it is a very fertile land, although unequally so because of its rough mountain ranges, and the thick forests. There are many trees of the yonote, [33] and of the buri, from which sago is made, which is used for bread in some places. There are also wax, honey, the fruits of the earth, flesh, abundance of fish, and rice where the people do not neglect through laziness to plant it. That island was formerly called Mainit, but the Spaniards called it Mindoro from a village called Minolo which is located between the port of Galeras and the bay of Ilog. [34]

786. Its inhabitants had sufficient courage to cause all their neighbors to fear them. Especially at sea were they powerful and daring as was lamented at different times by the islands of Panay, Luzon, and others, when they were attacked by the fleets of Mindoro which they completely filled with blood and fire. But at the same time they showed a very great simplicity, which was carried to so great an extreme, as is mentioned by father Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, that when they saw the Europeans with clothes and shoes—a thing unknown among them—they imagined that that adornment was the product of nature and not placed through ingenious modesty. [35] That simplicity produced in them the effect of their not applying themselves to the cultivation of the earth, but of contenting themselves with wild fruit and what they could steal as pirates, or better said, robbers. The sequel of that so far as their laziness is concerned, has lasted even to our own times; for as says father Fray Juan Francisco de San Antonio, all who have discussed the matter, agree that they are the laziest people and the most averse to work of all the inhabitants in those islands, notwithstanding that they are corpulent enough. [36] However, my experience of the Philipinas obliges me to say that so blamable a peculiarity is only too common to all of them, almost without any distinction of more or less. Neither could that courage of theirs save them from subjection to Espana, and if they earlier considered that subjection unfortunate in the extreme, now they regard it with the light of the faith as their greatest fortune.

787. A beginning in its conquest was made on the Mamburao side in the year 1570 by Captain Juan de Salcedo. [37] That conquest was completed so far as the seacoasts are concerned from the cape of Burruncan to that of Calavite at the beginning of the following year by the adelantado, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The balance of the island has been subdued gradually by dint of the evangelical laborers with the exception of the mountains which are located in its center. From that time, then, the seacoast Indians of that island have been subject to the mild yoke of the Spanish crown, and have given signs of extreme loyalty. For, although the great Chinese pirate Limaon attacked the Philipinas in the year 1574, in order to seize them if possible, there were some signs of insurrection in Mindoro, which was put down very quickly, even before one felt its effects which are generally very painful in popular uprisings. That good fortune was due to the moderation of the natives and to the temperance of Captain Gabriel de Ribera, who knew how to sweeten with very pleasing acts of kindness the bitter crust of justice. For that reason of the Indians being entirely well inclined to the Spaniards, the encomiendas of that great island were very desirable to the primitive conquistadors. In spiritual matters the island belongs to the archbishopric of Manila. In regard to civil matters, it is governed by a corregidor and captain of war, who generally has residence in it and extends his jurisdiction to the neighboring islands of Marinduque and Lucban.

788. Let us now speak of its spiritual conquest, which is the principal object of our consideration. In the year 1543 the Observant religious, the sons of the best beloved Benjamin, our common father, San Agustin (to whom fell the first and greater part of the possession for the conversion of the heathen, so far as that archipelago is concerned) made the Philipinas Islands happy by their presence by commencing to establish their apostolic preaching; [38] and later in the year 1565, they settled in order to complete what they had begun. Like stars rain-laden with the evangelical doctrine those most zealous ministers fertilized their Philipinas inheritance with their voluntary showers. So much did they do so, that when the new laborers, the sons of the seraph Francisco arrived at the field, there was scarce an island which had not produced most abundant fruit for the granaries of the Church because of the work of the first sowers; as is shown in several places of his history by father Fray Gaspar de San Agustin; [39] and that lover of truth, father Fray Francisco de San Antonio confesses it, thus honoring as he ought the Augustinian Hiermo [sic]. The island of Mindoro also shared in this good fortune. In its cultivation were employed 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 with 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 some regions." [40]

789. The discalced sons of St. Francis (minors for 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 received with innumerable applauses of their inhabitants, who regarded them as persons who despised the riches of earth, and thought 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 calced Augustinian fathers. There, not being content with what had been reduced, they extended the lights of the Catholic faith at the expense of 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 Estevan Ortiz and Fray Juan de Porras, who were great leaders among the first religious of the seraphic discalced order who went to Philipinas. [41] 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 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 abandon the little for the much, and to go first to Ilocos and secondly to Camarines where they hoped for more abundant fruits in return for their holy zeal.

790. In the year 1580 the religious of the holy Society of Jesus arrived at the islands. They, in the manner of swift angels ennobling and glorifying those hidden plains, expanded the habitation of Japhet, in order that he might possess the famous tents of Shem. Immediately, or very near the beginning, the superior detached excellent soldiers of that spiritual troop for the island of Mindoro, so that they might with the arms of the preaching destroy the altars dedicated to Belial by giving roots to the healthgiving sign of the cross. They obtained much; for after having penetrated the roughest mountains in search of heathens and Cimarrones they founded the village of Naojan, with some other villages annexed to it. They enjoyed that ministry a long time with their accustomed success. The one who excelled in the missions of that island was Father Luis de Sanvictores, whose glorious memory and reputation for sanctity was conserved for many years among those Indians. They, notwithstanding the rudeness of their style, never spoke of him without praise. But that father having retired in order to begin the conquest of the islands of Ladrones (which were afterward called Marianas), where he with glorious martyrdom gave the utmost encouragement, although others followed his attempts in Mindoro with great zeal; the Society finally abandoned that island into the hands of the archbishop. [42] We cannot give the exact time of their resolution or the reasons which could move so zealous fathers to it, although we regard it as certain that they did it in order to employ themselves in other places where the evangelical fruit was more plentiful.

791. His Excellency the prelate immediately formed two curacies of the entire island, which he handed over to the secular clergy so that they might aid those souls. Later as the two could not fulfil that, a third cura had to be appointed. They carefully maintained what had been conquered, a territory that included the coasts along the north side extending from Bongabong to Calavite. But because there were very few Christians, since it is apparent that they did not exceed four thousand, who were scattered throughout various settlements or collections of huts along a distance of eighty leguas of coast, it was not to be supposed that those missions would produce enough income for three ministers. Consequently, they had necessarily to be aided with other incomes, which were solicited from the royal treasury, and with other pious foundations. Neither was that enough, so that at times it was very difficult to find seculars to take charge of those districts. Those ministries were, it is true, scarce desirable, both because of the smallness of their stipends, because they carried with them unendurable hardships, and because of the unhealthfulness of the territory. But finally, moved, either by charity or by obedience, there was never a lack of zealous seculars who hastened with the bread of the instruction to those Indians. The curacies were consequently maintained there until the year 1679, when our discalced order took charge of the whole island for reasons which we shall now relate.

Sec. II

Being obliged to abandon the ministries of Zambales by force, our province of Philipinas assumes possession of the ministries of Mindoro, and obtains rare fruit with its preaching.

792. In the year 1606, that grain of mustard arrived in Manila, and although it was small, it produced the tree of most surpassing magnitude. I speak of our first mission which was composed at its arrival of a small number of religious. By preaching the glory of God and announcing the works of His power, so few men founded the greatness of that holy province among the illuminations of blind heathenism. It cannot be denied that by that time the sound of the word of God had reached all the Philipinas Islands, which had been announced by the illustrious champions who had preceded us in that vast archipelago, to wit, the calced Augustinians, the discalced Franciscans, the Jesuits and the Dominicans. But there cannot be any doubt either that, notwithstanding that all the above orders had worked in the conversion of souls, with the most heroic fervor, some new locations in which they could enter to work were not lacking to Ours. The harvest was great and the laborers few; and since, however much those destined for that cultivation sweated in continual tenacity, they could not go beyond the limited sphere of man, hence it is that the Recollects on reaching that great vineyard at the hour of nine, equaled in merit those who gained their day's wages from the first hour. And in truth this will appear evident if one considers that even now, after so many years in which the sacerdotal tuba of the apostolic ministry has been incessantly exercised, not a few places are found in the said islands where the individuals of all orders are employed in living missions, and struggle with the most obstinate paganism.

793. The district where Ours first spread the gospel net was in the mountain range called Zambales, in the middle part of which extending from Mariveles to Bolinao they obtained fish in great numbers, as has been told already in the preceding volumes. Those villages of Zambales are located between ministries of the reverend Dominican fathers. For, since the latter held along the great bay of Manila on the side called El Partido almost at the foot of Mount Batan, several missions contiguous to Mariveles and on the other side of Bolinao, the best portion of the alcaldeship of Pangasinan, they also included in their midst the settlements of the Zambals now reduced to a Christian and civilized life by the missionaries of the Augustinian reformed order. For that reason the Dominicans had desired and even claimed without going beyond the boundaries dictated by courtesy and good relationship that our prelates yield that territory to them, as it was suitable for the communication of the Dominicans among themselves between Pangasinan and Manila and would make their visits less arduous. But since that was a very painful proposition to those who governed our discalced order, namely, the abandonment of certain Indians who were the firstborn of their spirit, and a land watered by the blood of so many martyrs, the claim could never be made effectual, however much it was smoothed over by the name of exchange, our province being offered other ministries, in which was shown clearly the zeal of its individual members.

794. The one who made the greatest efforts in this direction was father Fray Phelipe Pardo, both times that he held the Dominican provincialate in the years 1662 and 1673. Although all of his efforts were then frustrated, he obtained great headway by them to obtain his purposes later. For May 30, 1676, his Majesty presented him for the office of archbishop of Manila. Thereupon he formed the notion that the new marks of the ecclesiastical dignity would be sufficient to add authority to argument. For, because of the respect to his person, surely worthy of the greatest promotion, we did not dare to condemn his attempt as unjust; and more even, when he obtained it, making amends to our reformed order for the wrong we received by a recompense which was fully justifiable in his eyes. A chance offered him a suitable occasion for his project in the following manner. Don Diego de Villatoro represented to the Council of the Indias that the island of Mindoro was filled with innumerable heathens all sunk in the darkness of their paganism; and that if its conquest were entrusted to any order, it would be very easy to illumine its inhabitants with the light of the faith. Therefore a royal decree was despatched, under date of Madrid, June 18, 1677, ordering the governor of the islands, together with the archbishop, to entrust the reduction of Mindoro to the order which appeared best fitted for it, before all things settling the curas who resided there in prebends or chaplaincies. That decree was presented to the royal Audiencia of Manila by Sargento-mayor Don Sebastian de Villarreal, October 31, 78, and since his Majesty's fiscal had nothing to oppose, it was obeyed without delay, and it was sent for fulfilment to the said archbishop, December 14 of the same year. On that account, his Excellency formed the idea of taking Zambales from us in order to augment his order and give the island of Mindoro to our discalced order.

795. He began, then, to discuss the matter without the loss of any time, and he did not stop until his designs were obtained, notwithstanding that he had to conquer innumerable difficulties. For, in the first place, our provincial, then father Fray Joseph de San Nicolas, opposed it very strongly. The latter alleged that it would be a violation of the municipal constitutions of the Recollects to abandon the ministries of Zambales, for the constitutions expressly stated that none of the convents once possessed should be abandoned except under certain conditions, which were not present in the case under consideration. Besides that the Indian natives of Mindoro, both Christians and infidels, scarcely knew that there was a question of giving them minister religious and begged Jesuit fathers with great instance, for they preserved yet the affection that they had conceived for them, since the time that the latter had procured for them with their preaching at the cost of many dangers their greatest welfare, omitting no means that could conduce to their withdrawal from the darkness of their paganism. And when the Zambals heard that the Recollect fathers were to be taken from their villages, in order to surrender them to the Dominicans, they declared almost in violent uproar that they would not allow such a change under any consideration, for they were unable to tolerate, because of the love which they professed for their spiritual ministers, to be forever deprived of their company, by which they had obtained so great progress in the Catholic faith.

796. But the archbishop found means in the hidden recesses of his prudence by which to conquer such obstacles. For in unison with Don Juan de Vargas Hurtado, governor and captain-general of the islands, he softened the provincial, Fray Joseph de San Nicolas, and obliged him to agree to the exchange. He quieted the natives of Mindoro by means of their corregidor, so that they might receive the ministers of our discalced order, and availing himself of the services of the alcalde-mayor of Pangasinan, he silenced the Zambal Indians so that they should take the privation of their Recollects gracefully, and lower the head to the admission of the Dominican fathers. Thereupon, the sea of opposition having been calmed, and after the three seculars who were administering to Mindoro had been assigned fitting competencies, which were provided for them in Manila, an act of the royal Audiencia provided that our reformed order should be entrusted with the administration of the said island, with absolute clauses which established it in the said royal decree, and without the least respect the abandonment of the Zambal missions. Then immediately preceding the juridical surrender of them, which was signed by the above-mentioned father provincial, although it was protested by only the father lector, Fray Joseph de la Assumpcion, and father Fray Francisco de la Madre de Dios, a second act was passed by which the missions were assigned to the fathers of St. Dominic. Thus did the archbishop have a complete victory.

797. By virtue of those decrees, which were announced to our provincial, April 17, 1679, that holy province was dispossessed of all the Zambal mountain range, which then contained eleven villages. They were also dispossessed of the missions which father Fray Joseph de la Trinidad was then fomenting in the nearby mountains by the far-reaching fruits of his apostolic preaching, as we have mentioned worthily in another place. [43] The individual members of the province of Santo Rosario hastened to take charge of the ministries and missions of the Zambals which had been surrendered to them by Ours without the least disturbance being observed publicly, although almost all of those governed by the said Father Trinidad threatened violence. Those juridical measures, with what was done in Manila, served much later for the recovery of Zambales without the loss of the new possessions of Mindoro. The necessary papers were also despatched directed to the corregidor of Mindoro, ordering him to deliver the ministries of that island to the discalced Augustinians. Without loss of time, the father definitor, Fray Diego de la Madre de Dios, assumed charge of the district of Baco, while the bachelor Don Joseph de Roxas who possessed it left it. The curacy of Calavite was taken possession of by father Fray Diego de la Resurreccion, who took the place of Licentiate Don Juan Pedrosa. The parish of Naoyan was taken charge of by the father definitor, Fray Eugenio de los Santos, the bachelor, Don Martin Diaz, being removed. All that was concluded before the end of the year 1679 without disturbance, lawsuits, or dissensions.

798. The above-mentioned religious were accompanied by three others of whose names we are ignorant. Immediately did that holy squadron commence to announce the testimony of Christ, with sermons founded on the manifestation of virtue, spirit, and example, and not on illusory persuasion which is built on naught but words, which are confirmatory of human wisdom. They considered especially that they had to give strict account of those souls whose direction had just been given them. Consequently, they watched over their flock, hastening to their sheep with the right food, without avoiding the greatest fatigue. Hence could one recognize the great good fortune of the island of Mindoro, for in the territory where three seculars at most, and generally only two, lived formerly, six evangelical laborers had enough to do. They were later increased to eight, and that number was never or but rarely decreased. Each of them on his part produced most abundant fruits at that time, and under all circumstances the same has been obtained. For although the common enemy diffused much discord during the first tasks of their apostolic labor in order thereby to choke the pure grain of the divine word by making use therefor of a man, namely, Admiral Don Joseph de Chaves, encomendero of almost the entire island, at last by Ours exercising their innate prudence and their unalterable patience, the grace of God was triumphant, while the attempts of Satan were a mockery.

799. Father Fray Juan Francisco de San Antonio remarked very forcibly of our discalced religious that, "although they were the last gospel laborers in Philipinas, they have competed in their apostolic zeal with the first laborers in the fruits that they gathered from their labors in the reduction of the most barbarous islanders." [44] And the father master, Fray Joseph Sicardo, adds very fittingly, that "our discalced religious having received the great island of Mindoro, increased the Christianity of its natives by means of so zealous ministers." [45] Then, as appears from juridical instruments before me, although the Christians throughout the island when our reformed order assumed charge of it did not exceed four thousand, in the year 1692 they already exceeded the number of eight thousand, and in the year 1716 arrived to the number of twelve thousand. It is a fact that the persecution by the Moros happening afterward (of which something was said incidentally in volume three, [46] and which will in due time add much to this history) the number of believers was greatly lessened; for some retired to other islands, where the war was not so cruel, others were taken to Jolo in dire captivity, and others surrendered their lives to so great a weight of misfortune. Notwithstanding that, in the year 1738, when father Fray Juan Francisco de San Antonio printed his first volume, it appeared by trustworthy documents that Ours administered seven thousand five hundred and fifty-two souls in the various villages, visitas, missions, and rancherias in that island. [47] Hence, one may infer that our zealous brothers have labored there especially in destroying paganism and reducing the many Zimarrones or apostates who, having thrown off all obedience, had built themselves forts in those mountains. And if not few of both classes remain obstinate, it does not proceed certainly from any omission that has been found in our zealous workers, but from other causes which are already suggested in other parts of this present volume.

800. Neither can one make from this progress of the Catholic faith which was attained by the preaching of our religious, any inferences against the other laborers who began to subdue the island, or against the secular clergy, who administered it afterward. The Observant fathers, as a rule, employed there no more than one missionary or at the most two. The number of the fathers of St. Francis was no larger, and they had charge at times of the district of Balayan as well as of Mindoro. Since the fathers of the Society had so much to attend to in so many parts, two or three of them took care of Mindoro and Marinduque. Consequently, one ought not to be surprised that so small a number of laborers did not do more, but, that they had done so much must surely astonish him who considers it thoroughly. In the same way the parish priests, who succeeded them, were very few, and since the reduced Indians occupied so extensive a coast, they had scarce enough time to administer the bread of the doctrine to the Christians, so that they had none left to penetrate into the mountains in search of the Zimarrones or of the heathen Manguianes. [48] But, on the contrary, from the time that that island was delivered to our teaching, the number of missionaries has been doubled or tripled. It is evident that victories must generally increase in proportion to the increase of the soldiers in the campaign, even in what concerns spiritual wars.

801. This argument has more force, if it be considered that the evangelical laborers having increased afterward with so great profit, they asserted that at times the greatest strength accompanied by gigantic zeal was given up as conquered, by the continual toil indispensable in the administration of the faithful, for to that task was added the care of the conversion of the heathen. That toil was so excessive that the night generally came without the fathers having obtained a moment of rest in order to pay the debt of the divine office. At times they had to neglect the care of their own bodies in order to attend to the souls of their neighbors. They were always busied in teaching the instruction to children and adults; in administering the holy sacraments, although they had to go three or four leguas to the places where the dying persons were; and in penetrating the rough mountains in the center of the island, in order to allure the heathens and apostates to the healthful bosom of the Church. To all the above (which even now is, as it were, a common characteristic of all our missionaries in Philipinas) is added the extreme poverty there, and the lack of necessities that they endured. For, the reduced product from those villages, in regard to the ecclesiastical stipend, which was formerly insufficient to support two or three curas with great misery, was now sufficient to support six or more religious. Consequently, they endured it with the greatest hardship.

Sec. III

Information of the convents which were founded in that island, and the miracles with which God confirmed the Catholic religion which Ours were preaching.

802. Trampling under foot, then, the above discomforts and others which are omitted, those illustrious champions attended to the exact fulfilment of the spiritual administration, employing themselves in the exercise of missionaries in order to reduce the heathens to the Catholic sheepfold. In the belief that it would be very conducive to the extension of the Christian religion to establish convents in the new territory which they were cultivating, they began to set their hands to the work. The first foundation which they established was in the village of Baco, where the corregidor was residing at that time, although that convent was later moved to Calapan. Two religious were placed there in residence, and they looked after the spiritual administration in several rancherias. Those rancherias have increased with the lapse of time to a great number of Christians, and have become villages that are not to be despised, having been formed anew by the zeal of our apostolic laborers. The villages comprehended in that district in the year 1733 are the following: Calapan, which is the chief one, where the convent is located; Baco, Suban, Ilog, Minolo, and Camoron, which are annexed villages or visitas, as they are called there. Our church of Calapan is enriched with an image of Christ our Lord, which represents Him in His infancy; and on that account it is called the convent of Santo Nino [i.e., Holy Child]. That image is conspicuous in continual miracles and is the consolation of all the Indians of Mindoro. For a long history might be written by only relating the marvels which the divine power has worked by it; now giving health to many sick unto death; now freeing villages from locusts which were destroying the fields, now succoring not a few boats which driven by violent storms were running down the Marinduque coast, whose sailors were in the greatest danger of being drowned in the water, or the ship of grounding on the shoals of the land.

803. [One miracle is related of a Recollect in Calapan who having acquired two hundred pesos determined to send it home to Spain to his mother who was very poor, without saying anything to the provincial as he was in duty bound to do. Being very observant in his outward duties, he said mass before the image just previous to sending the money to America on a ship which appeared opportunely, but the image turned its back on him. Thereupon, being convicted of sin, he burst into tears, and was thereafter free from such temptations.]

804. The above case happened years after when the convent was established in Calapan. Let us now examine other marvels, which happened at Baco, near the beginning, which were of great use for the extension of the Catholic name. The father definitor, Fray Diego de la Madre de Dios, who was the founder of that house, was surely a holy man, and was venerated as such in Manila. Notwithstanding that, however, a corregidor took to persecuting him by word and deed. The servant of God bore the personal insults with great patience, although it pained him to the soul to see that the corregidor's contempt was resulting in prejudice to the Catholic religion. He practiced several secret efforts ordered by charity in order to restrain the corregidor's tongue, but seeing that they were insufficient, generally chided in a sermon the evil employment of sacrilegious mouths which, taking the gospel laborers as the object of their detractions, prevent the fruit of their preaching, although they should aid in the attainment of so holy an end. The chief culprit was present, toward whom without naming him the father directed his aim; and since, after one has once left the hand of God, he precipitates himself easily from one abyss to another (angered by the pain which was caused him by the medicine, which was being applied prudently in order to cure him of his pain and indiscreetly abusing the authority which resided in his person), he rose in anger, with the determination to impose silence on the father who (if he was talking) it was, for his own [i. e., the corregidor's] good. "Sacrilegious preacher" he exclaimed, but when he attempted to continue his face was suddenly twisted, and he could not utter a word, and he was extremely disfigured and was attacked by most intense pains. He was taken to his house, where the venerable father attended him, and by his only making the sign of the cross above the corregidor's mouth the patient was restored to his former state of health in body, while in soul he was completely changed. The courage to make public penitence for his public crimes, and to return his credit entirely to so holy a religious did not fail him.

805. [The same father although very sick with fever did not hesitate, aided by spiritual forces, to go to a distance to administer to a sick person who had urgently requested his presence—a fact that conduced not a little to the conversion of the natives round about.]

806 [and 807]. The second convent was founded in the village of Naojan by the father definitor, Fray Eugenio de los Santos, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino was assigned it as titular. Besides the said principal village, it had in its charge six annexed villages of visitas, namely, Pola, Pinamalayan, Balente, Sumagay, Maliguo, and Bongabong. However, with the change of the district of Mangarin, of which we shall speak later, there was some variation in the distribution of those settlements. That ministry is one of the first in authority in the island, because of the great number of parishioners to which it has increased, because a great multitude of heathen Manguianes who have been converted to our holy faith, have gone thither to live, as well as a not small number of apostate Christians, who were wandering at liberty through those mountains. All that was obtained by the preaching of our laborers by whose efforts three of the said villages were reestablished. [Two prodigies or miraculous occurrences which are related aided in the christianizing of this convent.]

808 [and 809]. Another and third convent was established in the convent of Calavite by the efforts of father Fray Diego de la Resurreccion, and its titular was Nuestra Senora del Populo [i.e., Our Lady of the People]. It has the annexed villages of Dongon, Santa Cruz, Mamburao, Tubili, and Santo Thomas. Of those settlements, those that are on the coast which extends from Calavite to Mangarin, have been founded for the most part by dint of the zeal of our religious. They formerly had many Christians, although at present they have suffered a remarkable diminution because of the persecutions of the Moros which we have already mentioned. [An epidemic that was raging throughout this district when the convent was founded was checked miraculously. In the same district, a heathen Manguian chief who had opposed the new faith surrendered to the personal solicitation of Fray Diego de la Resurreccion, and became a good Christian, and afterward aided in the conversion of many others. The district was miraculously cleared of the pest of locusts which were destroying all the fields.]

810 [and 811]. The fourth convent was erected in the village of Mangarin under the advocacy of our father, St. Augustine. Its prior also governed the villages of Guasig, Manaol, Ililin, and Bulalacao. However, the provincial chapter of 1737 ordered that house removed to Bongabong, for reasons that they considered most sufficient, namely, because Mangarin was ruined by the continual invasions of the Moros, and because of its poor temperature, which put an end to the health of almost all the religious. For that reason, the distribution of the annexed villages of Naojan, Mangarin, and Calavite in another manner was inevitable, so that the correct administration of the doctrina might be more promptly administered. But the convents above mentioned always were left standing, and serve as plazas de armas, where those soldiers of Jesus take refuge in order to go out in the island to war against the armies of Satan. It can be stated confidently that the district of which we have been speaking, has been conquered by our reformed order; for when we entered Mindoro, scarcely was the name of Christ known there, while at present there are many souls there who follow the banners of the cross, and all the power of hell, incited by Mahometan infidelity, has not availed to destroy the deep roots of its faith. On the contrary we have wondered greatly at the power of the divine grace in those neophytes, for after their belief has been proved many times, as gold in the crucible, in the fire of the most raging persecution it has gone up [a number of] carats in value and purity. [This district was also the scene of a miracle or prodigy that showed the force of God and the faith.]

812. Besides the above-mentioned convents, a mission was begun some years later in the mountains of Mindoro for the purpose of reducing the Manguianes heathen. Although many of them had been converted, allured by the zeal of various religious, still not a few remained in the darkness of paganism for lack of ministers, who could busy themselves without any other occupation in busying themselves in illumining them with the evangelical light. That was so abundant a field that it could keep many laborers busy. Thus the project was formed by the province to keep at least three subjects busy in it, so that each one, so far as he might be able, might put his hand to the plough, and without turning back, cultivate so extensive a land, which was capable of producing an infinite amount of fruit for the table of glory. But since the missionaries maintain themselves there at the cost of the royal treasury, which is almost always in a state of too great exhaustion, so well conceived a desire had to be satisfied with one single preacher, whom the superior government assigned for that purpose, although the province assigns others at its own expense, when its too great poverty does not prevent, or the lack of men, so usual there. The residence of those missionaries in the village of Ilog was determined upon and a suitable convent was established there. From that place, entering the mountains frequently, they began to fell their rational thickets, in order to fertilize them with the waters of irrigation of the divine grace, so that the seed of their apostolic preaching might be received. By means of the laborious eagerness of the sowers who have succeeded them, a great portion of that arid desert has been transformed into the most charming garden. When I left Philipinas in the year 1738, it still existed as a most fruitful mission and there were well founded hopes that if Apollos water the plants established by Paul, it will receive the most abundant increase from God. [49]

813. [The way was blazed also in the mountain mission with miraculous occurrences that proclaimed the true God.] It appears impossible that their inhabitants should not come to know God and should not run breathless after the odoriferous delicacias of His goodness. There is still much to do in this regard, for a great number of infidels still live in the said mountains, and if thirty missionaries were assigned there, they would not lack employment. But let us praise God for what has been accomplished, petitioning Him to crown so memorable beginnings with a good end.

[The fourth section of this chapter does not treat of the Philippines.]


The province of Philipinas again receives the ministries of Calamianes, which it had previously abandoned. Abundance of fruit is gathered there. Some religious die in Espana.

The year 1681

Sec. I

Our religious begin again to preach the faith in the islands of Calamianes; and the great fruit which they gather in the conversion of many heathen.

823. [The Recollect missionaries of Philipinas can rightly be called apostolic because of their zeal.]

824. In the year 1661, the Chinese pirate Kuesing sent an embassy to the Philipinas Islands, demanding nothing less than the vassalage of them all, and threatening the Spaniards who did not comply with what he called their obligation that they would feel all the weight of war on themselves. We have already treated of this matter in another place. [50] So far as we have to do with the matter here, various measures were taken in the islands because of the fears caused by the threat, in order that they might be defended in case that Kuesing fulfilled it. One of those measures was the abandonment of the presidios of Terrenate, Zamboangan, Calamianes, and others, in order that they might be able to employ their troops, artillery, and munitions of war in defending the most important places. That decree was opposed very strongly, but the objections although they were thoroughly based on reason could not prevent such action being taken. Consequently, at the end of 1662 or at the beginning of 63 the presidios were actually withdrawn, and the Christian villages were left more exposed than ever to the invasions of the Moros. That so fatal resolution was also necessarily accompanied by the withdrawal of the evangelical ministers, for the fathers of the Society abandoned Zamboangan and other sites, and our Recollect family the Calamianes. Although no special regret was shown for that action at that time by the superior government of Manila, to whom belongs the duty of furnishing spiritual ministers to the subject villages, yet years afterward the wrong was recognized, and the remedy was procured in due manner.

825. The most fruitful preaching of Ours in the islands of Calamianes has been already related in volume II; [51] as has also the conversion of their inhabitants, until then heathens; the marvels which divine Omnipotence worked there; the convents which were established for the extension of the Catholic faith; and the hardships endured by the missionaries in spreading it. Now, then, it must be noted that eight religious were well employed in all the islands of that jurisdiction, who looked after the spiritual administration of the Christian Indians and the conversion of the idolaters who were not few. But when they withdrew, only two remained in charge of the islands of Cuyo and Agutaya while the six betook themselves to Manila or wherever their obedience assigned them. The place occupied by the six (where they labored to excess, as there were many Indians and they were spread out into many islands and settlements) was given to one single secular priest. He having his residence in Taytay, did as much as he was able in the other villages. But it is more than certain that he could do very little, if he did perchance succeed in doing anything. In this regard one can visibly see the spiritual wrong which followed those vassals of the king. Even an undeniable loss resulted to the royal treasury, for in a few years the Indian tributes were lessened almost by half. But notwithstanding that, neither Governor Don Diego de Salcedo nor the bishop of Zebu, to whom it belonged in its various aspects to supply the remedy of one and the other wrong, would manifest that they understood it.

826. Thus did things go on for seventeen years until the year 1680, when the Indian chiefs of Calamianes having united among themselves, presented a memorial to Governor Don Juan de Bargas Hurtado. In it, after mentioning the wrongs above mentioned, and the love which they always professed to our religious, their first ministers, they urgently petitioned that the Augustinian Recollects be assigned them as parish priests. The fact that the cura, Don Antonio de Figueroa, the only missionary in Calamianes, in addition to having been presented for the curacy of Tabuco in the archbishopric of Manila, had now been sick for two months and unable to administer the sacraments, lent force to that representation. On that account he petitioned with double justice that a successor be sent to him, but no secular ecclesiastic could be found who knew the language of the country, nor would risk the mission which was now of but very small profit. For those reasons, the abovesaid governor despatched an order to our provincial on May 11 of the said year, asking and charging him, and even ordering him in the king's name, to assign religious of his order, in order that they might go to reassume possession of the villages of Calamianes, so that they might attend to its spiritual administration. He hoped that by means of their wonted zeal, that province would be restored to its former splendor through their direction and teaching, and that the number of the Christians would increase in the proportion desired.

827. But notwithstanding that, the father provincial negotiated with his definitory in order to interpose a supplication in regard to the said act, and refused to send evangelical laborers, the total cause of such action being the lack of religious. He alleged, then, that since his province had assumed charge of the ministries of the Contracosta and of Mindoro, where many subjects were employed; and in consideration of the lack of men which the discalced order suffered there, which could not be helped: not only was it clearly impossible for him to assign missionaries to Calamianes, but also that he saw that it was necessary for the reformed branch to reiterate his petition made previously to the royal Audiencia, in regard to withdrawing the two ministers who were occupied in the island of Cuyo, as there was a notable lack in other villages. That allegation was sent by decree of the superior government to Don Diego Antonio de Viga, of the Council of his Majesty and his fiscal in the Audiencia of Manila. On the sixteenth of the same month and year, he maintained that notwithstanding the representation made by the father provincial (since no other order contained ministers who understood the language of the Calamianes), the necessary provision must be despatched, in accordance with the second and last warning, ordering the Recollect province to establish missionaries in Calamianes and not to withdraw those of Cuyo. He was confident in the apostolic zeal with which they have ever applied themselves to the ministry, that notwithstanding their small number they would accomplish the task which demanded many laborers.

828. The governor conformed to the plea of the fiscal. Consequently, on the same day he despatched in due form a second decree in the king's name, ordering the superior prelate of our province, in consideration of the extreme necessity of the islands of Calamianes, to immediately establish the necessary ministers therein for the spiritual consolation of those Indians. He added that Don Fray Diego de Aguilar of the Order of Preachers, the bishop recently appointed for Zebu (to whose miter the said islands belonged) despatched ex-officio his decree also charging our province with the administration of all the Christian villages established in Calamianes, or that were to be established in the future; and says that he does so in consideration of the apostolic zeal of our reformed order and the spirit that always assists them in trampling under foot the greatest fatigues, so that many souls might be gathered into the flock of the Catholic church. Thereupon the father provincial, Fray Thomas de San Geronimo, could offer no more resistance and sent father Fray Nicolas de Santa Ana as vicar-provincial of Calamianes, with two associates. The alcalde-mayor of the said province, Don Diego Bibien Henriquez, placed them in possession of the ministry of Taytay (which is the chief one of them all) on the first of November, 1680, to the universal joy of the Indians. The latter showed by extraordinary festivals their joy at seeing that the direction of their spirits was in charge of the same fathers who had engendered them through the gospel. The king, by his decree dated December 24, 1682, confirmed the said possession at the petition of the father commissary of Philipinas, Fray Juan de la Madre de Dios, with great signs of his royal pleasure.

829. Of the three religious newly assigned, father Fray Nicolas established his residence in Taytay; the second was located in the island of Dumaran; and the third in the village of Tancon. From those places they labored according to their strength, until the arrival at Philipinas of the band of missionaries which was conducted by the father commissary, Fray Juan de la Madre de Dios, which entered Manila in October 1684, when a greater number of missionaries could be assigned, as was very necessary for the direction of so many Indians. For the extensive territory which was formerly administered by only one cura, has later given worthy employment to five, six, or seven of our religious, to say nothing of the two at the least, who have been stationed continually in the islands of Cuyo. Hence one may infer how much the Catholic faith has been extended there, now by reducing into the villages the many natives who had fled to the mountains, after abandoning almost entirely their Christian obligations; now by undeceiving others who lack but little of becoming Moros, because of their nearness and intercourse with those people; and now by penetrating into the roughest mountains of Paragua in order to draw the souls from the darkness of paganism to the agreeable light of the Christian religion.

830. In regard to these particulars, we consider it necessary to reproduce at this point a portion of a letter written May 28, 1683, to our father vicar-general, Fray Juan de la Presentacion, by the recently-elected father provincial of those islands, Fray Isidoro de Jesus Maria, a person well known in Europa for the literary productions which he has published. He speaks, then, as follows: "The urgings of the Indians of the province of Calamianes to the ecclesiastical and secular government and to my predecessors, have availed so much, that this province has judged that the precept of Christian charity demands us to return to that administration, trusting in God our Lord for the relief of the very great disadvantages which had compelled our religious who had administered and reared that field of Christendom from its beginning, to withdraw from that province. At the present it has increased by more than two thousand souls who have been drawn from the mountains in less than three years, as can be seen from the relations sent to the chapter. Greater fruits are hoped for, because in the past year of 82, the ambassador of the king of Borney in the name of his prince, arranged with the governor of these islands for the cession of a not small amount of land and number of settlements, which are subject to the said Borney—one in the island of Paragua, one of the islands of Calamianes. The confirmation of the pact with his ambassador is awaited from Borney, so that that district may really be incorporated with the rest which is subject to the king our sovereign; and consequently, to introduce by means of our religious, the Catholic faith among those new vassals of his Majesty."

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