|Members of the IFI from Toronto join IFI members from Montreal, and solidarity friends, at the Monthly Migrant's Mass, to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the IFI, Sunday, August 19, 2019 at St Paul's Anglican Church, Montréal.|
Le Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP/CPC) joins you to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the IFI - Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
CAP/CPC is a solidarity group active since 1983 and is made up of Filipinos and non-Filipinos here in Montreal. We are connected to many people’s organizations in the Philippines and in the migrants’ community in Canada. We have long admired the courage and the work of the IFI in providing an alternative place of faith and spirituality that is based on social justice and human dignity.
Born out of the struggle against Spanish colonialism and American imperialism, progressive nationalist priests rose up against the collusion and participation of the Roman Catholic church in colonial domination. The Roman Catholic clergy and friars were some of the largest landowners in the colonial Philippines, and participated in the plunder of the country, committing all kinds of abuses against the local population and Filipino priests.
The formal establishment of the IFI was prevented by the intrusion of the United States of America in the revolutionary war against Spain in 1899.
It was during this period, when the institutional and missionary churches were cooperating with the colonial government, and patriotic Filipinos continued to sustain the struggle for national democracy, that the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was born in 1902.
The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy and even Reformation churches did everything they could to try to stop Fr Gregorio Anglipay and his progressive nationalist church from surviving and thriving.
The traditional churches have the monuments, wealth, land, institutions and resources gleaned in large part during the colonial plunder of the Philippines.
But the IFI, despite the adversity, has managed to set itself apart and thrive. It is the church of the poor and the oppressed, of those who thirst for justice and for the respect of human dignity. It has formed alliances with other progressive churches around the world.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente has played a key role in the national democratic movement in the Philippines over the years. The church was with the people in their struggle against the Japanese occupation in 1940’s and during the Marcos dictatorship of the 1970’s. The IFI has had many martyrs in this struggle over the years
I remember the morning of October 3, 2006 when my partner Malcolm and I were living in the Philippines and we were taking Tagalog lesson from a church worker, Agong, and she received an urgent text message. Her face crumpled in tears when she read the news that Bishop Alberto Ramento, a bishop of her church in San Sebastian, Tarlac City, had been slain.
Faceless assassins had broken into the rectory and stabbed the Bishop in his sleep. The police initially said it was a mere case of robbery with homicide. But there was nothing to steal at his home, which was a simple house with no objects of wealth whatsoever. The brutal killing was clearly politically motivated; Bishop Ramento was an advocate of a just peace, and part of the Monitoring Group in the Peace Talks between the Government and the National Democratic Front. His killing was the consequence of his principled engagement with the people and their struggle for the fullness of life.
Today, the IFI bravely takes a stand against the growing tyranny of the Rodrigo Duterte government.
It advocates actively in favour of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The lack of material wealth and resources means IFI priests have to support themselves, and are often worker-priests, like our own Fr Art. This makes it difficult to build a congregation, but on the other hand, means that this church experiences first-hand the lives - the oppression, exploitation and struggle - of ordinary working people in the Philippines and the diaspora.
The IFI has over two million members and thousands abroad who carry on the rituals; the church is a beacon of comfort and spiritual support to the thousands of migrants abroad.
It is a church which has distinguished itself as the church of the migrants... and their struggles. Members of le Centre d’appui aux Philippines – Centre for Philippine Concerns are proud to be here to celebrate the IFI’s mission and history and wish it a bright future.
|Participants at the community dinner held after the Migrant's Mass at St Paul's Anglican Church, Côte de Neiges, Montréal, Sunday, August 19, 2018. The Migrant's Mass is held monthly.|