‘Christianity’ In The Philippines…

With the up and coming events of Holy Week, I find myself writing this article as a kind of review of the Philippines’ own brand of “Christianity” and how it has been corrupted by our culture of failure and misused by those in power to control the masses. Now look, I was raised Catholic as well and I am also a practicing Catholic, even though I do take cues from Gnosticism here and there (guess that makes me a heretic or something, burn me). However, after reading a bit of the Bible, I came to see that there are actually a lot of discrepancies with the values that many of us Filipinos consider “Christian Values” compared to what is actually espoused in the Good Book.

For our Non-Christian readers, this is more about the influence of the typical Pinoy’s idea of what is “Christianity” than it is about defining Christianity itself. However, if you think this is too “preachy”, I won’t really mind that much if you decide not to read it.

christianity_philippinesAs I’ve said, I’m a practicing Catholic and that means I go to church every Saturday (because I’m busy on Sunday) and I pray the rosary almost every day. However, I am willing to admit to the fact that these do not make me a good person. I go to church and pray the rosary to ask for forgiveness for the daily dickery I do. That’s right, I am such a jerk and a troll to other people that I have to ask God not to take a personal interest in punishing me. I do not think that doing so makes me “good” in his eyes, it just means that I’m willing to admit to the wrongs that I’ve done and I also try to promise God that I’ll fix some of the stuff that I’ve done later on. I’m not exactly to confident about the last that I said though…

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But enough about me. Anyway, as I’ve come to see, a lot of people in the Philippines do not see their religion the way they should. Christianity, as I’ve come to understand it through both the Bible and some of my more devout friends, should be a philosophy or lifestyle. It is about espousing the ideals Jesus put forth into our daily lives, holding ourselves to a higher standard and making ourselves accountable before a Greater Being. Unfortunately, here in the Philippines, it’s a different story. Allow me to point out some of these ideas to you…

God is a fairy!

This is probably one of the most egregious things I’ve noted in our culture. I have been through quite a bit and time and time again, I find myself in the presence of people who are convinced that God is some sort of fairy or genie who grants wishes. Never mind even that the original genies of Islamic lore are nothing like the way most of us think of them.

These are people who like to sit and pray (often in an unfelt way) and actually expect God to fulfill all their expectations even when they themselves do nothing. And then, when nothing happens, these people play the victim card and either say that they’re being victimized by the system or that God Himself abandoned them even when it’s clear that it was they who abandoned themselves. This is not at all helped by the many fantasy-themed teleseryes we have that are chock-full of Deus Ex Machina moments that would be outrageous or even laughable to a more progressive audience. Even a certain local show I remember about a little boy who is supposed to be “favored” by God, has elements of this even though I could feel that the writers of the show were trying very hard to shake it off.

Look, I’m a believer because I can attest to God’s benevolence. I think that He does answer our prayers but, if we want to make the best of it, we have to learn to look around and use wisely what we find. The best way I can describe God’s benevolence is similar to the following: You find yourself lost in a forest and, while looking around, you suddenly find a knife or a compass which any survival expert can tell you is essential for surviving the deeps woods. Or say, you find yourself in a dark room and suddenly find a small flashlight in your pocket.

However, what most Pinoys expect is that when lost in a forest, they will be rescued from the forest by Coco Martin on a helicopter or, when trapped in a dark room, will find a classy smartphone that can also allow them to watch local TV and play video games.

Everything is About Fame and Pride, Again…

It is stated in the Bible that God doesn’t exactly appreciate people who make a big show of praying or helping others. It is said that doing something good and showing it off to others is often just a way for some to make themselves look “good” in the eyes of the people and not in the eyes of God. Praying loudly in front of a lot of people or giving alms or aid to the poor with media coverage is only meant to please the public eye and is not something that is endorsed by God.

Instead, the Bible asks us to be quiet and discreet about our good deeds. Pray in a silent and largely unseen place instead of where everybody can see you (unless maybe there’s some disaster or something) to show your sincerity. When doing something good, it’s best to do it when no one is looking and don’t try to make it such a big issue because there’s more good to be done in a world that seems saturated with evil.

Unfortunately, this is not what happens in the Philippines. People always make a big show of things from garish weddings, celebrities shown going to church and pretending to be reflecting on their sins (which could probably fill a football field), politicians giving away dole outs (that I think actually belong to the people anyway) with their names writ large upon it and sadomasochists who masquerade as “penitent” people. I once knew one of these “penitents” who would boast on and on about how he was part of a spectacle in a town plaza.

The Philippines has a Special Place in God’s Heart

I have always believed that God loves us all equally, even those who do not seem to know Him. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, how old you are, who your parents are or who your spouse is, God loves you the way only a doting father or loving mother could.

Problem is, a lot of Pinoys don’t see it that way. A lot of them insist that, since we’re probably the only predominantly Catholic country here in the Far East, He must have some special interest in us.

Well, I would agree that we do have some advantages compared to other countries in the world. A Ukrainian friend once told me that we Filipinos are very lucky to have so much food all-year-around. But while God does bless us with natural resources, we utilize and manage them poorly and often require aid from other countries just to make the best of them.

Yes, we have a special place in God’s heart, but so do the children of Latin America, his rowdy Irish sons and daughters, the troubled peoples of Africa, the snobs up in Western Europe, the impoverished masses of India, the ever-hairy Americans, his Jewish kids who never seem to stop arguing and just about everyone else. Just because we’re “special” doesn’t mean we’re His “favorites”. We aren’t God’s only kids and he has to look after so many, especially all those kids in Africa who are now infected with AIDS or are starving to death. If anything, I think we should stop being a burden to God and learn to help ourselves so He can take His attentions to where it’s really needed and, if we can afford to do it, maybe even help in His efforts.

30 Replies to “‘Christianity’ In The Philippines…”

  1. I am sure you like the story of Ona?
    I am sure your god will protect you and will keep you from getting all kinds of ugly illnesses and diseases. You will die old and god is in charge of that and he is watching.

    1. Correction, he gives me a lot of ugly illnesses and diseases, at least, every now and again. See, Mr. Haighton, back when I was a student nurse, I was occasionally rude or apathetic towards patients. I suppose God caused that so I would realize where I went wrong.

      Of course “God” is such an exclusive term, eh?

      1. Sir Grimwald,
        Either is was caused by stress factors or you would have got those diseases even when you werent rude and apathetic at that time. Your best Friend cant have done that. Its a powerless, imaginery thing.

        BTW: how do you explain that every time when I am in Cebu, churches are fully packed when there is a church service?

        1. Let’s just say that I believe in the idea of a final authority. That perhaps during or even at the end of our lives we will be held accountable for the things that we do.

          But, of course, that’s what I’d like to believe. What you believe is something entirely different…

          However, I do not think this same sense of accountability exists for most Pinoys…

        2. Grimwald,
          I guess that everybody in his/her life has been rude and showed signs of apathy – once or more often. In most cases such behavior will boomerang.
          Do you mean a final authority or higher authority?
          You know, I always wonder how often people get an answer to their prayers (I mean, an answer from your best Friend). How many people do pray for a person thats about to die and then miraculously the person cures completely and still has 40 years to live?

          “However, I do not think this same sense of accountability exists for most Pinoys…” =>
          I am totally not surprised about this. For me that all has to do with the Phili culture. When everybody is taking care of everybody and when everybody is looking after everybody, the first thing I can throw out the window is my personal responsibility, knowing that all consequences of my irresponsible behavior and result of it is “covered” by my family members.

          The Philippines has a high number of teenage pregnancies, right? Why doesnt this figure decrease?

  2. The Jews call themselves: “the chosen people of God”…yet, they were almost wiped out by the German Nazi “final solution”. Israel is also surrounded by Arab enemies…with daily harassment of rocket attacks from the Palestinians.

    We call ourselves: “the only Christian country in Asia”; yet we have the most corrupt political leaders; and the most evil criminals, masquerading as “political leaders”…

    Grimwald, whatever your concept of God. I respect it. I have my own concept of God. I believe that God is not a “Santa Claus”…or a Diety in the sky, watching every mistake you commit. Then, sentence you to “Hell” forever, for committing those mistakes (sin). We, humans have the capacity to improve ourselves; to better ourselves…Goodness and God are the same..

        1. It’s on wikipedia, so it must be true. Well done.

          “So What” is this: an entire country following a perverse religion that encourages wrongdoing and irresponsibility is in big trouble.

          Philippine culture has taken something good – Christianity – and turned it into a disgraceful parody. It is no longer recognizable as Christianity.

        2. Not sure what I’m supposed to get from that Wikipedia link. Which bit did I get WRONG? Not the only Christian country in Asia, or the largest Catholic country in Asia?

          I just found it surprising that according to HT, Filipinos think they are “the only Christian country in Asia.” If anything, that should suggest they’re doing something wrong…

  3. Frankly, Grimwald, I don’t think you go far enough with this one. The Philippines is one of the most godless places I have ever had the misfortune to set foot in. There are probably more Christians in Korea than in that benighted place. I’m willing to bet the majority of self-proclaimed “Catholics” have never read the Bible in their lives.

    Catholicism itself is fundamentally different to Christianity in any case, in that it regards the Church as the source of salvation, not Christ. This is, at best, a distortion of Jesus’s message and a rejection of divine forgiveness; at worst – with the Pope setting himself up as Christ’s mouthpiece and priests as the dispensers of forgiveness – it’s blasphemous. I dislike this intensely, not just from a theological point of view but because the practical ramifications are clear for all to see. The Philippines is essentially a vassal state of the Vatican (which, let’s be clear, is a political entity, not a religious one), where everyone from the government on down obeys its pronouncements.

    Worse than that, the version of Catholicism in the Philippines is really just a fusion of traditional beliefs – animism, spirit-worship and witchcraft – with the nomenclature of Christianity. Even the Commandments are ignored: idol-worship, blasphemy, covetousness, adultery, theft, false witness – these are not only not regarded as sinful but as normal or admirable. Maybe I’m just being melodramatic, but I’ve felt Satan walking through that country, and the people calling on his name.

    1. Kudos to you for a very accurate view of the system of evil that prevails in this country. I would to point out to what happen in the aftermath of that destructive magnitude 9 earthquake & tsunami in Japan that left many properties destroyed, even on that desperate situation no one reported any incidence of any looting/theft, which is astonishing. Japan has over 100 million population w/ about 84-96% of those are atheists. Proves Japanese culture is well disciplined and belief in God unnecessary to know what is MORAL & what is NOT.

      1. Japan has a 130m population. 84% are not atheists; they practice Shintoism and Buddhism. If you get close to Japs, I will say they are quite a religious people, i.e. they believe in some spiritual power. Been to Japan many, many times. They are the most homogeneous among all people on Earth, I think.

        Problem with Pinoys is they think God is a genie in bottle. Rub the bottle and voila, your wish is my command thing kind of mentality. Childish religion in short. In that sense, Pinoys are more pagan than the Japs.

        There is more than meets the eye, I tell you.

        1. Many adherents to those religions are atheists in the first place. Atheism = No God/gods. Spirituality doesn’t always mean religious.

          Pinoy “faith” or “pananampalataya” is not TRUE faith in Jesus/God but rather a necessity to reaching Heaven and avoid torture in Hell. Greed is one of the typical Filipino trait, guess where it came from.

      2. I’ve lived in Japan and I can say with confidence that their aetheist stance is but a mere label. Plenty of them go to Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines and even marry in Christian churches (it’s considered cool and stylish to do so.). The main difference is they don’t internalize religion obssessively as Filipinos.

        1. Completely agree with the comments about Japan. Although that country still has some unpleasant cultural undercurrents, there is a much higher level of (what do we call it?) spiritual awareness – a realization that life is bigger than the next balikbayan box.

          Honestly, I think it may simply be that Japanese people are a lot smarter than Filipinos. They think more deeply. The Filipino religion, or superstition, or whatever you want to call it, is of the most primitive and simplistic kind. God is Santa Claus, who gives you gifts if you do a few rituals. This is a cargo-cult religion, or more likely just a modification of the traditional appease-the-forest-spirits beliefs.

  4. I think I would rather say Catholicism than Christianity, although it is a Christian denomination, I think only the Catholic Church does this though. Not all Christian religions agree on this idolatry and false belief that only happens in a week and back with the old habits after it is done.

  5. From the looks of the Philippines, I’d say its more blessed by NURGLE and SLAANESH rather than the God in the bible. With all the pestilence and decadence going on.

    But all joking aside. Yeah, the Christianity in the Philippines is pretty light compared to other countries. As a child raised Catholic, my family never really did the no meat on a Friday and rather than getting God to be a guiding hand for you to be a better person, its more on who can pray and sing more loudly. Its quite disgraceful now that I think about it, ever since I’ve read the bible.

    To be fair though, this is not exclusive to Filipinos.

    1. I’d chalk it up to Colonial Spain teaching a restrictingly orthodox facet of Catholicism and add that to their toxic siesta culture and what you get is a disaster. It ruined South America and sadly only stopping short of the Philippines.

  6. Forecast is South Korea and/or Vietnam will overtake PHL in 20 to 25 years as a Catholic country percentage-wise of population. South Korea, anyway, has 50 Catholic saints vs two in PHL.

  7. You’re doing well Grimwald.
    While none of us are a burden on God you are so right that in addition to asking for his help we need to do what we can to help ourselves.
    If your car is about to come to a grinding halt and you need it to get to work and you really can’t afford to get it fixed and you don’t have any friends or family to fix it for you then pray.

    But if your car is about to come to a grinding halt and you need it to get to work and you CAN afford to get it fixed then pray. But don’t pray only. Get it fixed.

    Just by way of example.

  8. The Bible has noble poetry in it… and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.

  9. You know, the ‘Old Testament’ is the book of the Jews and anyone who believes Lesus Christ was the Son of God,the Saviour of the human race MUST reject it ! The teachings of Jesus Christ is a great way to live life, and not easy to do.Try screwing up your local banks business by going into it and flipping over the money tables and telling the people who run the bank that they can not do it ‘in YOUR Father’s house’, go ahead…I DARE YA…I DOUBLE DOG DARE YA !!!!

    The embracing of the ‘Old Testament’ by Filipino’s is amazing to many as to isten to the book of the people that murdered Jesus Christ is pretty ridiculous when ya think about it.

    1. You say a believer in Jesus Christ must reject the Old Testament. Do you have verses for that? I don’t mean to be argumentative. I’m being open minded.

      1. I dont read the bible, but i have watched ang dating daan if brother eli, disclaimer:not promoting him though. He said that Jesus waived all the laws from the old testament because it was outdated snd He set the new laws. If we really want to follow the law of old testament, we need to follow it fully, so you know you have to be choosy on what you eat, stone brides that were not proven virgin, be killed when masturbate because you spilt the semen outside of womb, and many many harsh law.

  10. The god worship by humans has a penis that puts the opposite sex inferior in this patriarchal society. Comparing men to women, it is as if that left is better than right or morning is better than evening.

    1. if people just use their critical thinking, bible were written by people who have cultural biases, example is what you have mentioned, this is my theory, God based his commands based on the culture that is why, slavery was alright back then, polygamy was accepted because the population back then is critical, they still need to multiply. In jesus christ time, He changed the laws because the old testament law is already not applicable based on their current culture. But the bottomline is do good and not harm your fellow. That us why i cringe everytime people based their beliefs in verses from old testament. If Jesus adjusted the laws, cant we not do it as long as the golden rule is followed. I fear that some leader might revert back to old testament laws and force it on people, those were harsh laws my friend.

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