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The early Filipinos had a traditional religion before the Christian missionaries came in the

Philippines in the fifteenth century.


According to Mercado, the indigenous Filipinos are closely related with nature.
This is the reason why they respect and take care of the environment. They do not cut trees
because a denuded forest will mean the death of their tribe. If someone cuts trees, they must
plant a new one to restore the forest's pristine status. (in reference to Mother Nature providing
for them)
[^more on influence of their religion on their lives]
Even at the present times, the traditional belief in the power of a likha is customary among
Filipino devotees. Mercado speaks of a popular Filipino devotion called punas-punas or the
wiping or touching of a sacred image with a piece of cloth. The devotees believe that the
handkerchief that touched the sacred image obtained a bisa or efficacy to cure sickness and ward
of [sic] evil spirits.
Through the urging of Ferdinand Magellan, the kinglet of Zzubu named Raja Humabon, his
wife, and around 800 natives received the sacrament of baptism of the Catholic Church.
Nobody can ever know the inner workings of Gods grace but one cannot help but wonder why
the early Filipinos of Cebu accepted the Christian religion of Spaniards. Catindig believes that
fear and greed moved the early Filipinos to accept the Catholic faith.

While Catindigs argument on fear, greed, and Christianization is plausible, an event narrated by
Ilustre about the re-discovery of Queen Juanas Santo Nio points to the other possible reasons
for the Christianization of early Filipinos.

Theology arose from the mutual interaction between the Gospel proclaimed by the early
missionaries and the culture of the early people in the Philippines. Redemptoris Missio explains
this interaction between faith and culture as inculturation.

The Catholic history is a witness of the different forms of dialogue between faith and culture.

De Mesa mentions the folk Catholicism in the Philippines as an example for the second type of
relationship between the Gospel and culture. He says that in the second type of relationship
between Gospel and culture, one finds fundamental but not total agreement between them.

The striking similarity between the roles of the indigenous spirits and Catholic saints as
understood by the native population illustrates this. Though officially presented by the Church as
particular models of holiness, the saints are regarded like the spirits who are asked to grant
favors, to refrain from inflicting harm or remove harm they had inflicted. Interest in the powers
of the spirits spill over to what the saints are capable of doing. If there are spirits of particular
places, or definite life phases or specific needs, there are also singular saints with their respective
specialties.

Secondly, theology is a critical intellectual aspect of our faith; therefore it is a human and
cultural product. It is a way to understand ourselves and the world around us from the
perspective of faith.

However, in order to authentically establish the faith, it is necessary that the people appropriate
the doctrine to their local cultural context. The propagation of Christianity from the fifteenth
century onwards through the Spanish medium and culture gave way to the misappropriation of
the faith and led to popular religiosity of early Filipinos.

It is necessary for Christianity to meet the peoples deepest needs and penetrate their worldview.
In doing so, the recipients of the Gospel will be able to authentically follow Christ while
remaining faithful to their culture.