American Board Mission in Cagayan
the natural port of entry to Mindanao from the north, Cagayan was
a most strategic center for Christian missions on the northern Mindanao
coast. Thus, it was not surprising that the American Board would choose
it as their second
mission station in Mindanao, to which they sent toward the end of
1915 the Rev. Dr. Frank C. Laubach (1884-1987), and his wife, nee
Early Evangelical Success in Cagayan
found a prominent Aglipayan leader named Ramon B. Neri to help him
up on his Spanish, and a young man named Pedro Acero, to teach him
began public preaching in July 1916, with Proculo A. Rodriguez serving
as his interpreter. Before long, a small group of inquirers, mostly
and intermediate students, had begun meeting regularly on Sundays at
the Laubach home.
were the products of the public school system and members of the new
generation of English-speaking Filipinos. By September 1916, some 18
persons, including some prominent citizens, had been converted and
the most important reason for the early success of the American Board
mission in Cagayan was Laubach’s perceptive insight into the
nature of the Filipino religious attitudes.
In looking into at
the recent religious history of the province of Misamis, it must have
particularly struck him to know that a very large proportion of Misamis
province, both in the east and the west coasts had turned Aglipayan
in 1902, though by 1916 many had returned to the Catholic Church, while
others had ceased professing any religion at all.
1902, “two-thirds” of
Cagayan and apparently also the surrounding towns had turned Aglipayan,
though by 1916 the movement had appeared, if not moribund, at least
that the reason, or at least part of the reason, for the Filipino revolt
against the Catholic Church had been the indifference and mercenary
motives of the clergy. Laubach puts it in even stronger terms, when
people who joined (the Aglipayans) nominally had thrown over religion
as a fake from beginning to end. There were people who wanted to
join our church when it began so that they would have a place to
be buried, and who told us frankly that the future life did
not concern them in the least.
Laubach the, the evangelical message should definitely show people
who are “strongly
prejudiced” against religion that there is a one which is not “fake”.
What he sought to
achieve in Cagayan was to offset the disappointing religious experiences
which he perceived to have been common among its inhabitants. As he
goes on to say:
found the Catholics tyrants, and the Aglipayan padres largely ignorant,
incompetent or indifferent. The natural thing is for the visayans
to be on the lookout for some of these qualities in the Protestant
pastors or missionaries.
preaching they mistake for a new species of tyranny. Inferior preaching
they will tolerate without complaint, but they will not go to church
to hear it. A combination of severity and ignorance, such as they
hear too often, becomes simply intolerable.
the Protestant preacher has got to produce the goods. His success
is exactly proportional to his capacity. That is a truism everywhere,
but here, with two unhappy memories of church disappointments, the
people are unusually sophisticated.
Thus, it was that
Protestant preaching in Cagayan, Misamis was tailored to appeal to
the local intelligentsia. By and large, the majority of the evangelical
constituency in Cagayan, as indeed in nearly every other place in the
Philippines, had always come from the educated middle class, or from
the lower middle class seeking upward social mobility through education.
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