The Philippines: A society long held hostage by the Roman Catholic Church

The jury still seems to be out on what could be the long-term impact of Philippine President Duterte’s direct attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. Such attacks by a sitting president and, for that matter, any top politician or official of the government are unprecedented, but it is this vastly different way with which a Philippine president is regarding the Church that is opening doors to a lasting legacy for Duterte and, more importantly, a long-overdue cultural shift in Philippine society. As pointed out by Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao in his piece today, “Duterte is at least lighting a candle in the vast dark landscape of Filipinos’ worldview, by which they would risk life and limb to touch a wooden statue so they’d get a boon from the Deity, such as a visa to the US or a brandnew SUV.”

Indeed, the irony that escapes the huffing and puffing stalwarts of the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) is that the big waves Duterte’s attacks on the Catholic Church have caused actually highlight just how deeply-entrenched a grip on Philippine society the Church enjoys. At the very least, the fact of this very grip should prompt a bit more objective scrutiny into the real nature of the effects of this disproportionate influence on Filipino behaviours and attitudes wielded by a single organisation — and one that answers to a foreign government, no less.

More importantly, given this influence, it is worth revisting just how exactly the Roman Catholic Church came to acquire such vast powers over humanity. Tiglao points out that this was achieved through means that likely wouldn’t appeal to most modern liberals…

Christianity is one of the main religions of the world now, because it was the state religion of one of the biggest civilizations the world has seen: Europe, which originated from the Roman Empire, the most powerful and long-lasting military dictatorships the world has seen. It wasn’t a choice of the vast population of peasants whether to believe in Jesus or not; they had to, or else.

Indeed, no monarch — no dictator — relinquishes power without a fight. So it is no surprise that the rallying cry of those who seek to uphold the status quo that is the Church’s vice-like grip on Philippine society would be none other than Laban! (“fight!”). Change is never painless, thus it is reasonable enough to expect a lot of pained responses to this on-going journey. There is, in fact, a lot of grimacing and gnashing of teeth amongst the Philippines’ chattering classes today. Many of these are, of course, politically-motivated — driven by an opportunity to “finally” turn the Philippines’ religious masses against their popular president.

There is, however, some evidence that the Filipino masses are not biting that hook either. Whilst the noise is palpable amongst the Twitter- and Facebook-equipped chattering classes, there is no conclusive evidence, as yet, to ascertain whether the outrage fad being kicked up by the Yellowtards is resonating amongst the broader base of Filipino voters. Indeed, there are hints of frustration being expressed amongst Yellowtard “influencers” over what some are admitting to be disappointingly weak response from Filipino Catholics at large. Could this be evidence that Duterte has successfully conquered this sacred no-go-zone and emerged unscathed, political capital fully intact?

If, indeed, Duterte manages to break the back of the Roman Catholic Church itself and end the vast blanket emotional blackmail it had been subjecting Filipinos to for centuries, he will have dismantled a major vestige of imperial rule over Filipinos. Within more recent history, he will also have taken down a key pillar of the Yellowtards’ power structure. Recall that the Yellowtards seized power in 1986 backed by the influence gratitiously dispensed by the Roman Catholic Church. It would seem that the days of this conjugal grip on power by the Yellowtards in partnership with the Catholic Church is coming to an end.

By itself, that is an achievement at par with any other major reformist movement in the annals of human history. The Philippines has long been renowned for the voodoo flavour of its Catholic practice — something the Catholic Church has done little to change (and, in fact, has encouraged it). As such, the Catholic influence in Philippine society has long been recognised as a significant contributor to the backwardness of Philippine society. It panders to the poor, does not encourage self-reliance and personal accountability, and emotionally-blackmails the rich to dole out their hard-earned surplus wealth to the “less fortunate”. Such is an environment created by Catholic teachings that encourages mendicancy and mediocrity to thrive and personal excellence and focus on achievement to take a backseat to these.

One can only hope that this rare opportunity to take the Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church to task is finally taken. The fruits of this opporuntity hang low and Filipinos only need to get up off their asses and reach for them.

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19 Comments on “The Philippines: A society long held hostage by the Roman Catholic Church”

  1. As far as i know, the CBCP does not discourage anyone from achieiving their dreams and passions in life. One can be a doctor, lawyer or engineer without the need of a blessing from the Church. If indeed as you said, the CBCP promotes mediocrity and mendicancy to its flocks, why would I see many rich, independent and professional people going to Church every Sunday? Engineers, Lawyers and Doctors are indeed attending Christian Church masses. Such sweeping generalization of yours is very easy to make since at the very core of your article is based highly on your emotional lazy preference.

    I feel very sad for Duterte because I think he is mentally unstable and unpresidential. Or maybe that’s his way of deflecting from other more pressing issues like the unprecedented rising cost of basic commodities, transportation, looming crisis of electricity, the backlogs infrastructure programs, the spiraling down of peso value, the South China sea issues, the stock market depreciation and many more that are more important of this country to be addressed rather than debate about the faith and belief of the Filipinos which will not go anywhere? Sorry but we will keep on track about those issues very well. Such things the administration of Duterte is now panicking while Duterte is trying to divert his mind to fool the Filipinos. The Philippines is still not really moving forward nowadays because of those things.

    1. Oh sure they did not PUBLICLY discourage anyone from taking up the professions. But what about the way they actively block millions from achieving a decent standard of living by upholding the pillars of oligarchy? Actions speak louder, mind you.

      The rest of your rant is more of mudslinging trying to appear legit through sheer length. Moving on.

      1. Upholding? Where is your evidence? And how did CBCP affect millions of lives when Filipinos are free to do things and decide on their own? You got some sort of loser mentality there. Trying hard to blame the CBCP as if the CBCP is pointing guns on Catholics heads to force them to remain poor, not go to school and not to find a decent jobs after they graduate. Do you really think Filipinos aren’t smart? Such an insult to their intelligence.

        1. You’re clueless, unfortunately. There is poverty back, there is still poverty today, now with CCT. The church also helped the Yellows of wanting the poor to remain poor by teaching them mendicancy. It is the institution of pauperism, so that oligarchs can be institutionalized. One time that Catholic church opposed Claro M. Recto’s bill on including Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo for schools because they said that “the youth will lose salvation”. And how and why did they oppose the Reproductive Health Law? That means they oppose any family planning methods, etc because there is no more money for them.

          And yes, Filipinos aren’t smart because of one thing: they hate critically smart people. Why don’t you realize that? This is not a loser mentality, this is reality check.

        2. Now with an expanded CCT with Duterte administration thanks to TRAIN law as you said. And I am not clueless. Filipinos have freedom and those adults can comprehend what is best for them. We have schools anywhere that offer enlightenment if Filipinos wanting to improve their learning and their status in lives. You are over generalizing everything to blame CBCP. Just like what I said, this country promotes too much freedom that Filipinos can avail almost everything, they just have to make the right decisions for themselves. They don’t need to be mendicant and they don’t need to rely on their decisions from the CBCP if they apply their thinking and skills to advance.

          You can blame the government and not the CBCP. If government has the political will, it can move mountains because it has the power to make, amend and implement laws and it has vast resources and budget to make changes in the status quo. The CBCP is just like any other interest groups, it can lobby its interest based on its beliefs but the government still has the final say.

        3. We have schools anywhere that offer enlightenment if Filipinos wanting to improve their learning and their status in lives. Just like what I said, this country promotes too much freedom that Filipinos can avail almost everything, they just have to make the right decisions for themselves. They don’t need to be mendicant and they don’t need to rely on their decisions from the CBCP if they apply their thinking and skills to advance.

          No, our education is not even in higher standards and some of them are promoting subversive teachings so where’s the ‘improve their learning and their status in lives’ there?

          Speaking of too much freedom, that is also lead to disillusionment (like you exhibited). They have too much freedom to do anything they liked that they violated every law and they have no respect for law and order. Yep, there’s your freedom. And wow, your claim is far from reality and it seems you sound like a socialist with that comment. You’re still ignoring the fact that mendicancy still exists and the CBCP still had a lot of influence.

          You can blame the government and not the CBCP. If government has the political will, it can move mountains because it has the power to make, amend and implement laws and it has vast resources and budget to make changes in the status quo. The CBCP is just like any other interest groups, it can lobby its interest based on its beliefs but the government still has the final say.

          Sad to say, both should be blamed. With much influence the CBCP had, it’s really common knowledge that they had much involvement in politics and other affairs. They even made a list of fake news sites (and it includes GRP) so I guess it’s not surprising that you get it from the CBCP itself.

        4. Wow! Sounds like you really have that defeatist mentality. All you are thinking is there is no chance to improve the impoverished state of all the aspects in the Philippines as a whole. Aren’t you a DDS? You are contradicting the mandates of your president.

          Mendicancy = Catholics are not entirely true. There are other groups who are non-catholics or are non-believers like the natives. Mendicancy is always present in every country. We have mendicants because millions of Filipinos are poor. That doesn’t mean CBCP is the caused of it. As I said Catholics are always free to leave if they think their religion is not helping them. They have brains that are not controlled by any one. The government has got to find a way like providing job availability and stability, low cost housing and affordable basic commodities in order to uplift the moral of these “mendicants”. They have to figure out how to do that no matter how difficult if they really have vision for this country.

          The CBCP is just like any other interest group as I said. If government really wants to have genuine change, it must protect and advance its interests over the interests of other groups no matter how influential they may seem to be because the government has the final say.

        5. Wow! Sounds like you really have that defeatist mentality. All you are thinking is there is no chance to improve the impoverished state of all the aspects in the Philippines as a whole. Aren’t you a DDS? You are contradicting the mandates of your president.

          You’re grasping on straws. It’s more like reality-check than a defeatist mentality. Clinging on positive vibes as if you say “Everything is a-ok” while it’s not is a sign of being delusional. I’m just merely pointing out the dysfunctional culture this country had and how the Catholic church is involved in this. Aren’t you a Yellowtard? Too bad you don’t even realize that you’re always talking as such.

          Mendicancy = Catholics are not entirely true. There are other groups who are non-catholics or are non-believers like the natives. Mendicancy is always present in every country. We have mendicants because millions of Filipinos are poor. That doesn’t mean CBCP is the caused of it. As I said Catholics are always free to leave if they think their religion is not helping them. They have brains that are not controlled by any one. The government has got to find a way like providing job availability and stability, low cost housing and affordable basic commodities in order to uplift the moral of these “mendicants”. They have to figure out how to do that no matter how difficult if they really have vision for this country.

          Millions of Filipinos are poor, and mendicancy makes them poorer. The government provides these job availability, low cost housing, etc. but if they can’t change their dysfunctional mentality then all will be worthless. You didn’t even give me a concrete answer about why the church opposed family planning methods i.e. the Reproductive Health Law.

          The CBCP is just like any other interest group as I said. If government really wants to have genuine change, it must protect and advance its interests over the interests of other groups no matter how influential they may seem to be because the government has the final say.

          And like I said, the CBCP is more than just any interest group. Yes, the government has the final say but they can also hold anyone because just like I said, they have a big influence in politics as well.

        6. Your reality check the government has to fixed and with that there is still hope if governments will push thru on their reforms, but you are thinking always about dysfunctional society so where are we going to start? Are we going to stop there? I say we start from the initiatives of the leaders to reform the dysfunctions so that followers might follow suit. I’m talking about not being stagnant in present situation. Not like yours who is always thinking at the present times misery. If our educational system is below the average standard of the elite schools in the world, it is government’s chance and responsibility to reform the system to upgrade the level of knowledge and skills of Filipinos to be competitive globally. If Filipinos abuse their freedom, it is the responsibility of the government to put some restrictions and put some teeth in the implementation of laws to regulate/minimize the abuse of freedom. So, where is the Church here? The church does not hold public funds. The Church does not craft and implement laws. It is still the governments’ fault on why they fail to condition the minds of the masses to love education and get rich and be happy. Why other countries, in spite of being highly Christianize, their governments were able to uplift them from poverty and mendicancy? Philippines can do the same. Government just need to be aggressive in pushing the right environment with all the necessary elements the Filipinos need to achieve more.

          And for the RH program, the RCC contradicts what is in store of that program because it is against their belief. Of course, government will not just favor the RCC always. As I said, government’s interest is the primary importamce over the Church. If government cannot decline the RCC, despite of it being supreme over the RCC and other interest groups, that means philippine government is still inutile until today . LOL! So that means it is still government’s fault for being a puppet of the RCC. That means government has no balls to stand-up. Kawawa naman.

        7. ^Look, you can’t just blame the government about corruption etc. but also the people because both are affected with this kind of dysfunctional culture we have.

          I say we start from the initiatives of the leaders to reform the dysfunctions so that followers might follow suit. I’m talking about not being stagnant in present situation. Not like yours who is always thinking at the present times misery.

          I’m always thinking at the present misery because how can we address the problems if we don’t? How can we make solutions if we don’t address it all?

          If our educational system is below the average standard of the elite schools in the world, it is government’s chance and responsibility to reform the system to upgrade the level of knowledge and skills of Filipinos to be competitive globally.

          Most of the elite schools had low-level education. I would never regard UP as a high standard because of the subversiveness it brings while there are Catholic schools that even recruiting kids into “activist campaigns”. You try to connect the dots.

          If Filipinos abuse their freedom, it is the responsibility of the government to put some restrictions and put some teeth in the implementation of laws to regulate/minimize the abuse of freedom.

          It’s not a matter of if when THAT is exactly what happened after 1986:

          “What resulted is a mob rule. Anarchy. Everyone “gained freedom” when the evil dictator left Malacanang. Freedom to do whatever they liked. Instead of peace and order, people held on to their “freedom”. Look at the country now. Poverty, unemployment, squatters, garbage in very street corner, dilapidated public transport, snatchers holdapers, etc. There is your freedom.

          The way I see it, filipinos loved their freedom to violate every rule and order. It is evident from the results. Look at us now. Disrespect to our law and order, disrespect to each other and to ourselves.”

          So, where is the Church here? The church does not hold public funds. The Church does not craft and implement laws. It is still the governments’ fault on why they fail to condition the minds of the masses to love education and get rich and be happy. Why other countries, in spite of being highly Christianize, their governments were able to uplift them from poverty and mendicancy? Philippines can do the same. Government just need to be aggressive in pushing the right environment with all the necessary elements the Filipinos need to achieve more.

          Influence doesn’t always mean that they always have public funds (but they’re also raising funds) and crafting and implementing laws. It’s more on the belief that they have the monopoly of what is right.

          “The church has had a history of having connections with government since the Spanish era. I remember reading that in the 1800s, friars were being thrown out of other countries and colonies probably because of a wave of secularism happening. There was one place thought where clergy influence on government remained… you guessed it, here. The friars all scrambled to go to the Philippines, where they had political authority of sorts. So the priests expect to maintain that connection even today. It’s the problem of people who believe they have a monopoly of what is right… they will want to impose what they believe on the whole society, screwing the freedoms of others.”

          And yes, kawawa nga talaga. For the past 30 years, the government albeitly becomes the puppet of the Catholic church. And it all started with Cory Aquino. And you don’t even know about this? Kawawa ka naman.

        8. Your biased against Aquino makes you inconsistent with your statement. You cited about the history of spanish colonial rule in the Philippines and how the Church wielded its influence over Filipinos all throughout the years since the RCC came into the Philippines and then in your last paragraph, you stated that the Philippines became a puppet only 30 years ago?! Make up your mind.

          Let’s cite one example of how the Church got hold on the lives of Filipinos. Say divorce law. FYI the absolute divorce law was abolished during Spanish era but became effective during American and Japanese times. But was abolished again since the implementation of the Civil Code of the Philippines in 1949-1950. The presidents in the past including Marcos did not do anything to restore absolute divorce for Christians. Marcos did recognize absolute divorce law but only for Muslims thru the passage of PD 1083. That means presidents from Marcos and down to his predeccesors cuddled the RCC well. And you will say that only during Aquino that government became a puppet of the RCC? Only maybe because of people power? You bet! it was only during the Cory Aquino era that we have at least relative divorce law in the Philippines which is a declaration of marriage as void in the beginning because of psychological incapacity of either of the spouse. So see the history of how the presidents in the past did not try to challenge the Church. The government is a puppet way before Cory Aquino era and until now where the government cannot pass liberal laws like divorce and same-sex marriage to at least oppose RCC’s influence over the country.

  2. With all the shit religion (here as the RCC) has spewed on us for decades and decades, I’m just happy that their parade is getting rained on right now. I’ve been waiting for it for ages.

    Let’s just hope that Duterte will pull through. If not, the stupid and the stupidly religious in the philippines will just brand the whole Duterte era as a failure due to its “irreligiousness” and “blasphemies”, therefore putting more power to the men-in-robes in the following admin and the next.

  3. It has been some centuries ago that Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, were crowned by the reigning Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Spain colonized us, introduced the Roman Catholic religion. The Catholic Church became one to the powerful rulers in the time of our Spanish colonization.

    Spain was a Province of the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. So, you can see the factors of which the Roman Catholic Church had played a part in molding the mindsets of Filipinos.

    You can see Pnoy Aquino and past Filipino Presidents bowing and kissing the ring of the Pope , of the Roman Catholic Church.

    There is a separation of the Church and the State in our constitution. However, it is not followed. Every Filipino President must be subject to the Roman Catholic Church influence.

    Divorce and birth control are examples of the influence of the church in the government. Kris Aquino, who have influence and money, can marry several times, thru church annulments. While the ordinary Filipino, who have no influence and money, cannot divorce and marry, even when, they are in difficult marriage. Birth control also, is one. Birth control pills are prohibited; so the Filipinos are now multiplying like rabbits…

    Now, that Diggong Duterte is the President. The Roman Catholic Church, thru its , cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns; tried to overthrow Duterte in tandem with various opposition groups. And tried to put Leni Robredo, the three times Law Bar exam flunker, in the Presidency.

    The Roman Catholic Church is grasping its last grasp to power in the Philippine political landscape. As I have written earlier in the blog. We are not a Democracy. We are a Feudal Oligarchy, with a full contrast of Theocracy. If we remain this way, we will be continuing the political mess, we are all subject to every year and thruout the years.

    Idiot and incompetent politicians , “blessed” by the Roman Catholic Church, will continue to be elected. And incompetence and mismanagement of the government will continue, with the “blessing” of the Church.

  4. it’s about time pilipino society to know who the roman catholic church they called ‘god’ is.

  5. CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ITS PRIEST, ARE THE BIGGEST, CONCENTIDOR OF ALL TIME AND MAKE EXCUSES FOR EVERYTHING, NOT TO MENTION THE MOST CORRUPT. BEGET AND FULL OF SHIT. GROWING UP CATHOLIC MADE ME ILL ALL THE TIME. NOW THAT I DONT PRACTICE ANY RELIGION NOR GO TO SO CALLED CHURCH, I FEEL MORE LIKE A HUMAN BEING RATHER THAN A ROBOT OR LESS OF A PERSON. THEY ALWAYS TAUGHT TO BE FEARFULL YET THEY ABUSE THEIR WHITE ROBE ALL THE TIME. COVER UP A LOT OF ABUSE AMONG CHILDREN AND USE GOD AS AND EXCUSE. THEY ARE THE MOST PRETENTIOUS CRIMINAL WEARING WHITE ROBES.

  6. What I’m reminded of is that misinterpretation of forgiveness precluding the justice system on earth. Perhaps some of the Catholic clergy believe in that, so when a thief is about to be jailed, they should to step in, “hey don’t jail that guy, his sins are forgiven!” But according to my protestant leaning, especially in the book 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe by Larry Osborne, forgiveness of sins does not preclude the human justice system. So even if you forgive the thief who robbed your house, that doesn’t mean you should let him go. Instead, let the justice system do its work; he goes to jail or pays the fine, etc, for what he stole. Forgiveness is more of a personal and spiritual attitude, not a basis of policy. Perhaps this also leads to the Church wanting to run every arena of affairs on earth, including the political arena, because they had that power under the late Roman Empire and some of Europe after that. But for me and others of the same persuasion, that has run its course, so the current secular system is best left running without interference from them.

  7. Actually the Philippines is one of those countries where there is such a huge contrast between mainstream religion and true spirituality that those two actually turn out to be polar opposites.
    Given the huge amount of churches scattered throughout the country there should be nothing but peace, love, flowers, rainbows and butterflies when, in fact, things like awayan,patayan, suntukan, barilan, corruption, alcohol abuse run rampant through the Philippines.
    Surely the Philippines and Filipinos are seriously held back from making progress by a religion (along with many other denominations) that puts a lot of emphasis on traditions, rituals, mystical blabbermouthery while it seems to be doing very little to really teach true spirituality which is theoretically supposed to be about stuff that is very hard to come by in the Philippines: unselfishness (instead of “ako muna”), self-control (instead of inuman or eating to get “busog”), looking inward instead of wanton consumption and so on and so forth….

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