500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines

By: Sr. Marilyn Salamida —

As we all know, Christianity was first introduced in the Philippines when Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who led a Spanish expedition, landed in the Philippines in 1521. The Philippine archipelago was colonized by Spain and named after King Philip II – Las Islas Filipinas. Religious orders from Spain started evangelizing and the Filipinos embraced Catholicism. The Philippines now has the largest Catholic population in Asia.

In commemoration of this historic event in our land, the arrival of Christianity in the country, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released an official Theme, “Gifted to Give” (taken from Matthew’s Gospel 10:8), an official Logo, and a Theme Song, “We Give Our Yes” (composed by Fr. Carlo Magno Marcelo).

On February 6, 2021, the Celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippine was launched in the Archdiocese of Manila with a Holy Mass at the Manila Cathedral presided by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, together with the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles Brown.  

The celebration also marked the 442nd anniversary of the establishment of Manila as the first Catholic diocese in the country. The Eucharistic celebration was attended by the clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila, Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and official representatives from the City of Manila and lay representatives from the Shrines, Parishes, and religious communities of the Archdiocese of Manila.  

The event was also highlighted by the blessing and wearing of the “Mission Cross” by the participants of the Mass. The Mission Cross bears the name of Jesus inscribed in Roman characters and ancient Baybayin script. It “symbolizes the encounter of the faith from Western missionaries and our own culture resulting in a colorful and vibrant Filipino faith that now becomes our contribution to the universal Church.” 

Capping the Eucharistic celebration, Ms. Jamie Rivera sang the theme song, “We Give Our Yes”, with the youth performing the actions of the song. The song “conveys the power of faith and hope in these trying times and reminds Filipinos to keep giving their yes to the mission of Jesus.”

In participation of the launching activity, the Rector of the Shrine of Jesus, Rev. Msgr. Bobby C. Canlas, delegated the Shrine Rector’s Council Head of the Worship Ministry and Education Ministry as representatives of the Shrine to the said event. The official theme song, “We Give Our Yes”, is now being used as the recessional song after every Mass at the Shrine of Jesus. 

In thanksgiving to God for the gift of the Christian and Catholic faith, as Bishop Pabillo said in his homily, we need to continue our mission with zeal, to reach out to the poor and the needy.  Let us continue to connect with people, proclaim God’s Word, and live out our faith as one universal church.