LIFE AND WORKS OF FRAY JUAN DE PLASENCIA
Fr. Jose "Long" D. Gutay, OFM
1. BIRTH AND FAMILY BACKGROUND
Fray Juan was born to the illustrious family of the Portocarreros in Plasencia in the
region of Extremadura, Spain in the early 16th century. His father, Don Pedro Portocarrero, was a captain of a Spanish schooner, who died in Naples, Italy in 1574. Juan was one in a brood of seven which
included D. Alfonso Pacheco Portocarrero, D. Pedro Portocarrero, D. Rodrigo Pacheco,
Doña Beatriz, Doña Ana, and Doña Inés Portocarrero.
Having had a father who constantly plied the waters of the 16th century Spanish domain
in the Mediterranean Sea which
extended from the coast of the Iberian peninsula to the ports of Naples, some of his biographers believed that the young Juan might have spent his early childhood in Italy. In fact, this brought about some speculations that he could have probably even joined the Italian Conventuals
in his later teens.
2. FORMATION IN THE FRANCISCAN ORDER
Following Santa Inés' and La Llave's accounts, the young Juan could have possibly entered
the Franciscan Conventuals in Italy and later on joined the Observant Franciscans of Santiago on his return to Spain. The biographer Eusebio Platero also supports this argument. However, the historian Fray Marcelo de Ribadeneira
maintains the contrary when he implied in his Historia that Fray Juan could have not joined the Italian Conventuals because
he was always with the Province of Santiago, and later on, however, entered the Province of San José, also in Spain.
Juan de Plasencia's upbringing was spent against the backdrop of the spiritual and religious
resurgence effected by Spain's siglo de oro, and the Observant and the post-Cisneros reforms.
This favorable ambience which had taken place even in his own region of Extremadura might have inspired him to suit up the Franciscan habit at a very young age. This
is doubtlessly proven by the sudden upsurge of the number of those responding to the call of religious life even in their
youth, most especially if they knew that they would be eventually suiting up for the missions.
The spurt of energy which helped maintain the missionary fervor in Juan de Plasencia could
have not been produced spontaneously. It has, of course, to undergo a long and
thorough process which, as in the case of Fray Juan, had surely happened contemporarily or could have began much earlier. In order to understand well this process it would serve a lot to go through the various
historical factors which had shaped the Catholic Church in Spain, in general, and the Franciscan Order, in particular, from the 14th century until the time of Juan
de Plasencia. Most certainly, these factors, in many concrete ways, influenced
the missiological principles, not only of our main protagonist, but all the other missionaries who were involved in the missionary
enterprise at that time, whether in the Orient or in other parts of the New World.
3. ARRIVAL IN THE PHILIPPINES
Fray Juan de Plasencia came together with the first batch of Franciscan missionaries
in the Philippines. In the list of missionaries bound for the Philippine
Islands which was dispatched from the Casa de la Contratacion of Seville, dated May 21 1577, the name Fray Joan de Puerto
Carrero, del convento de Villanueva de la Serena was mentioned. This name undoubtedly belongs to Juan de Plasencia.
On May 31 of the same year, Fray Juan, with his other companions, left Seville for the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda, and on the night of the 24th of
June sailed for the high seas. They arrived in Mexico on the month of September. After staying here for about six months they resumed voyage on March 15, 1578 from the port of Acapulco dropping anchor only for their muchneeded supplies
near the coast of the Marianas
Islands. After a brief respite they sailed for the Philippines. Finally, the ship with Fray Juan de Plasencia on board, arrived at a port in Cavite, a few kilometers south of Manila on the 2nd of July 1578.
4. VARIOUS ASSIGNMENTS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Only two months after their arrival in Manila, Fray Juan de Plasencia and another confrere,
Fray Diego de Oropresa, were already preaching around Laguna de Bay area and as far as Tayabas (the present Quezon Province)
converting souls to the Catholic fold. In June 1579, before leaving for the missions in
China, the Custos Fray Pedro Alfaro, transfered temporarily the administration of the Custody to Fray Juan,
an office he held until 1580.
His untiring work and missionary zeal pushed him further in the foundation and organization
of several towns not only in Laguna and Tayabas but also in the present Provinces of Bulacan and Rizal, and these were: Tayabas,
Calilaya, Lucban, Mahayhay, Nagcarlang, Lilio, Pila, Santa Cruz, Lumbang, Pangil, Siniloan, Morong, Antipolo, Taytay, and Meycawayan.
As his biographers testify, his life was characterized by zeal, prayer, and dedicated
service. When he was moving about on foot and visiting areas where the natives
dwell he devoted himself wholeheartedly to their conversion. His great interest
in this endeavor made him plunge himself into the laborious study of the native language and the foundation of numerous towns.
The friars recognized Plasencia's achievement and personal qualities, giving him their
vote of confidence by electing him their Custos (i.e. Superior) at their Chapter in May
23, 1584. He held this office until the election of Fray Pedro Bautista in 1588. Fray Juan's new job did not limit him no longer to one area.
As a writer, his biographers ascribe to him a series of literary works of miscellaneous
character of which some - very few - are still existing (his letters especially), while others have been lost, perhaps, forever.
After several dedicated years of hard work, converting the natives, teaching catechisms,
and organizing towns and barangays, he finally succumbed to Sister Death. He
passed away in Lilio (Liliw), in the Province of Laguna, in the year 1590.
His apostolic zeal indeed earned him respect among the people to whom he dedicated his
life, and his confreres with whom he lived and worked. His biographers, like
Juan Francisco de S. Antonio throughout his "Vida del Apostolico Varon, y Siervo de Dios, Fr. Juan de Plasencia" referred
to him as "el incansable". The Franciscan Order honors him with the
title "Venerable". Bishop Domingo Salazar himself, the first bishop in the Philippines, described the kind of friar, minister and missionary Fray Juan de Plasencia was with this eulogy:
"Ecclesiam Dei illius morte magnam incurruisse jacturam, quia cecidit columna christianitas."
5. NOTABLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE MISSION
5.1. Promoter of Language Inculturation
In the area of evangelization, the Church always finds herself confronted with
the problem of inculturation. History would attest to this fact. The task of
inculturation has always been difficult, problematic, and many times arousing passions and creating divisions and polarizations. The fifteenth century and later Franciscan missionaries
did not escape this major problem with ease. The controversies about the diversed
methods applied by the missionaries like
the Jesuits and the
Franciscans in the
New World also found their
way in the Far East, esp. China and Japan. However, the situation in the Philippines was very much different. Here the controvery did not exist. The relationship between
the Franciscans and the Jesuits in the 16th century was more, in fact, complimentary than supplementary. The approach of the friars and the Fathers (Jesuits) showed that they were missionaries
who possessed sincere knowledge and good-willed appreciation of the culture of the people they wanted to evangelize. What the historian Ribadeneira wrote about the friars could attest to
"Those men strove
to use every means possible, undaunted by numerous difficulties surrounding them, e.g.
learning to speak the dialect of the particular region assigned to their ministry. Because
the work of salvation is a divine commitment, superabundant grace was bestowed on the Franciscan missionaries, who learned
the different dialects one by one, laboriously through lack of texts and teachers, but in the final analysis, successfully,
enough to amaze the filipinos who marveled to hear those holy men utter the Word of God in their own native tongue."
In those places where the friars were assigned, their first task was to learn the language
or dialect of the people. An anonymous friar once wrote, "Nothing can be
done in the missions if the religious do not learn the language of the natives." This was indeed accomplished when the first group
of friars arrived in the Philippines. They wrote a grammar and dictionary of the native language and translated the
Christian doctrine into both Tagalog and Bicolano. The same anonymous friar maintains
"The first missionaries
left many writings in the Tagalog and Bicol languages, the best of which are those left by fathers Fray Juan de Oliver, Fray
Juan de Plasencia, Fray Miguel de Talavera, Fray Diego de Asuncion, and Fray Geronimo Monte.
Mention is made here of the above fathers because they were the first
masters of the Tagalog language, and since their writings are so common and well-received by all the orders. They have not been printed, because they are voluminous,
and there are no arrangements in this kingdom for printing so much."
Among the friars mentioned above, Fray Juan de Plasencia clearly stood out in the front
In 1580 the friars held their first Chapter in the Philippines, a general meeting
which served as an evaluation of their almost two years experience in the country. Of
the many resolutions approved, one was to appoint Fray Juan to the task of composing a grammar and a dictionary of the Tagalog
Fray Juan was not an alien to Tagalog. As
soon as he arrived in Manila, he started to learn the language through the young Miguel de Talavera. The latter "who had come with his parents on the expedition with Legaspi, then quite young, became in a manner of speaking
a disciple of Plasencia, and while the Father taught him Latin, he in turn taught Plasencia the elements of Tagalog which
he had picked up." One should take notice that despite his tutorship under the young Miguel, Fray
Juan still had to learn a language which was completely foreign to him without the help of grammars, dictionaries and other
printed books, and he managed to learn it in a comparatively short period, and exceptionally well too. This was attested by the several works he wrote barely after two years of his arrival in the Philippines.
5.1.1. Linguistic Works
When the Custos of the community, Fray Pedro Alfaro, turned over temporarily to Plasencia
the administration of the Custody between 1579 and 1580 (see above), it seemed that the latter's task would become unsurmountable
considering the fact that the Custody was just in its initial stages. But this
did not impede him in his work with the native language. For Fray Juan the role
of mastering the language of the people in order to facilitate evangelization, religious instructions, and the training of
an effective missionary has a more basic role to play than his administrative job.
In his letter to the King of Spain dated June 18, 1585 he mentioned some of his first works:
"In the language
more common in these Islands,
I have written some works like the "Arte de la lengua" and "declaraci_n de toda la doctrina xtiana," and now I am writing
the "Vocabulario." These are very necessary for all the ministers if they would
only be printed. It would be particularly favorable if Your Majesty would
send me a "cedula" so they could be sent for printing in Mexico at the expense of His Real Hacienda. It would be of great use for these souls." 
Reading through carefully this excerpt from Fray Juan's letter
to the king, we could immediately strike out two interesting elements: first, "they are very necessary for all the ministers,"
and second, "it would be of great use for these souls." These elements would
clearly spell out the methodology of inculturation of this simple friar which is evidently way ahead of his time. The technique of obliterating totally the culture of the natives in favor of the more dominant western
culture of which the missionaries were accused of especially in China was practically out of the question here. The biographer La Llave, besides providing more information about Fray Juan's
earlier writings, confirmed this fact when he wrote:
"Seeing that, since
the beginning, there were less fruits because there were no ministers for the work of conversion, and for not knowing well
the language of the natives and not putting it in good order, he (Fray Juan) took the initiative to study it (Tagalog), reducing it into an Arte, and from
this, he also wrote a Vocabulario; he composed it with so much clarity that, according to those who knew of it, he gave it
more light than those who came after him and tried to explain it (the language) outside the Vocabulario and Arte; he polished
the many ways of speaking it and took special attention not to divert it from its original meaning and pronunciation in order
that it would come out better understood by the ministers whenever they teach the natives."
Fray Juan, ostensibly, took such task as learning the language and systematizing it in
his Arte and Vocabulario primarily because he was aiming for a more effective way for himself and the ministers to reach out
to the natives in order "to preach to them the Word of God and inculturating it in their local situation" (see above). Ribadeneira himself took note of this with what he wrote about Juan de Plasencia:
"he did not cease to urge the ministers not to give up their study of the language, for it was obviously noticeable that great
spiritual fruit was being reaped among the natives."
The early biographers ascribed to him some other works in the Tagalog language namely:
Colecci_n de frases tagala, which he might have written in 1580; and Diccionario tagalog, in 1580. But since so far at present no trace of their original
texts and contents have been brought out into the open except this little information from his biographers, nothing about
their authenticity and authorship could be discussed.
5.2. The Catechist
Basic religious instructions on the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith is one of
the most important components of missionary evangelization. Every minister should
know that the task of spreading the Message of Christ does not consist mainly on administering the sacraments and counting
the number of baptisms and those receiving communion. The minister should also
devote more of his time in teaching the faithful the meaning of the Message as taught by the Church. And this should be done in a manner that each one would be able to comprehend it clearly and convincingly.
The first missionaries in the Philippines, who were ministers themselves, were fully
aware of this immense task which lay before them, especially after they have realized that they would be teaching a people
who have never heard of Christ nor the Catholic Church before in their lives. They
saw that "the effectivenes of prebaptismal instruction depended upon a subsequent indoctrination through the teaching of catechism."
The Franciscan themselves knew so well this exigency that among their decisions in their
first Chapter in 1580 was "to translate the Christian doctrines in Tagalog" (see Part One).
Evidently, this effort was meant to make the teaching of catechism more comprehensible to the natives. The religious instruction of the friars was an integral part of the whole method of evangelization
applied by the friars which includes, among others, the system of reducciones and the escuela de ni_os. This will be discussed in the later part of this paper.
5.2.1. Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana (1581?)
The task of translating the Christian doctrines in Tagalog evidently fell into the hands
of Juan de Plasencia. The chronicler Santa In_s referred to that decision in
the chapter held in 1580, presided by Plasencia himself in lieu of the Custos Pedro de Alfaro:
"The third and last
thing that was determined in this chapter was that a grammar and a dictionary of the Tagalog language should be made and a
translation of the Doctrina Christiana completed. And since Fr. Juan de Plasencia,
the president of this same chapter, excelled all in the language, he was given this responsibility, and he accepted it, and
immediately set to work. And then after great study, much lack of sleep and care,
together with fervent prayers and other spiritual duties, of not little importance in the good profit of such work, he reduced
the language to a grammar, made a catechism, a very full dictionary, and various translations."
La Llave also mentioned that "he composed the Doctrina christiana in their language,
and the Catecismo of the faith, which were entitled Togsohan (sic); and during the Provincial Synod called by the first bishop
(Salazar) with the prelates of the religious and ministers, it was approved. Until
at present, it is still being used but already with some modifications."
In 1593 a book bearing the title Doctrina Christiana en lengua espa_ola y tagala...
was printed xylographically for the first time in the Philippines. Although it was not mentioned in the printed book "historians are now agreed
that Plasencia was the author of the text that appears in this Doctrina." It was the same catechetical guide approved during the synod of 1582. As a matter of fact, in that Manila Synod presided by Bishop Salazar, the historian Juan de la Concepcion
gives an account of what has transpired:
"His excellency presided
at the meetings... At this convention or diocesan synod it was discussed whether
the Indians were to be ministered to in their native language, or if they would be obliged to learn Spanish, and it was decided
to instruct them in their native tonque. The divine office, the Doctrina Christiana,
which Father Fr. Juan de Plasencia had translated into the Tagalog language, was approved.
His work, the Arte y Doctrina Christiana proved most useful because of the ease by which it permitted an understanding
and thorough knowledge of so foreign a language."
This Doctrina of 1593 which was taught to the Filipinos
from the time of
its printing and thereon was quite dogmatic although reduced to its essential minimum. It included the following: a syllabary (phonetics),
the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, the Credo, the Salve Maria, the Articles of Faith, Ten Commandments, Commandments of the
Holy Church, the Sacraments, Seven Mortal Sins, Fourteen Works of Charity, the Act of Contrition and Catechism consisting
of thirty-three questions and answers, all in Spanish and Tagalog and transliterated into the pre-hispanic Filipino Syllabary
Alphabets. Here in a small compass is prospected the simplest,
most easily learned and most essential tenets of the Catholic Church.
When the Jesuits took over the parish of Silang, Cavite, from the Franciscans in 1601, they found out that
the teaching of catechism, aside from a established school for the children (the escuela), had already been introduced by
John Phelan maintains that this Doctrina closely followed the Nahuatl catechisms previously
compiled for the Mexican Indians. This only shows then, as mentioned already earlier,
the method used by the missionaries in the Philippines was practically the
same as the one used in the evangelization of the Americas.
5.2.2. The Tocsohan of Plasencia As Practiced.
In the parishes administered by the Franciscans the Misa Mayor did not only mean the
celebration of the community's Sunday Eucharist, it is also the festive indoctrination integrated in the liturgy. When the people gathered for the mass, it
was also time to teach them the Doctrina Christiana. This kerygmatic practice
became adjunct to the Misa Mayor, almost as an integral part of the Sunday (and holy day) morning liturgical function.
This catechetical instruction consisted in the ingenous practice of the communitarian
recitation or singing of the Tocsohan. This word in Tagalog literally means 'playful
teasing' or 'teasing game', in which one party asks a question to be anwered by the other party, the questioning and answering
roles being given reversed alternately after the correct answer has been given. It
has a become a practice for the friars to apply some group dynamics like this to make the learning process more pleasant and
attractive to the children.
The emphasis, however, was heavily placed on learning by rote memory, although understanding
was also tested by regular question periods. The method is described well in
"Taking into account
what the Holy Council of Trent disposes concerning the days on which the Minister has to preach to the souls under his charge,
we order that on Sundays and feasts (of three crosses), when there would be no formal platica, two or four sacristans or tiples
of the escuela who know the doctrina best, donned in surplices, shall go to the center of the church, before the start of
the Misa Mayor or at its end -- whenever the Minister thinks there would be more people in the church. And they shall recite aloud - or sing - the prayers of the Doctrina at one time and at another the Tocsohan
to be complete, while all those in the church answer. In this way they shall
not forget it. After the Mass and the recitation or singing of the prayer, the
Minister shall go to the center of the church and shall ask the Indio about what they prayed in order to find out how they
undestand it. He shall teach them briefly what they do not understand, and without being very profound shall explain some
points towards the understanding of the said doctrine."
5.2.3. Other Catechetical Works
The biographers Gomez Platero and Cassanova ascribed to Plasencia another work entitled
Un tomo de sermones varios en tagalog in which they assigned 1585 as the year Plasencia had it done. No other account made mention of this work although
it is possible that Fray Juan made this collection for two reasons: as a supplement to the Tocsohan and a guide for homilies
especially for ministers who were still starting to learn Tagalog, and most probably as a reading help for the faithful and
catechumens who would want to deepen more their knowledge of the Word.
On the otherhand, all his biographers, are agreed that he composed a mystical work which
he entitled La Santina in 1585. Faithful to his Alcantarine background Fray
Juan composed this opus on prayer and contemplation "para dar rreposo y descanso de las forzosas obligaciones de su oficio." But apparently it was not for himself nor
even for his fellow Spanish missionaries. The work was done in the Tagalog language. This goes to say, then, that he wrote it for the
catechism of the natives who did not know Spanish so that they may also have a share of the spirituality of their teachers.
In the later years, the various works of Juan de Plasencia, especially his Doctrina,
Arte y Diccionario were continued and improved by another linguist, Fray Juan Oliver, who arrived with the second batch of
missionaries in the Philippines in 1580.
5.3. The Pedagogue: Promovedor singular de las escuelas
In the education of the natives, although credit is given to Fray Sebastian de Baeza
for being the first to put up a primary school in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, in the very same year of their arrival in the Philippines, it was the well-reputed Fray Juan de Plasencia who "took the leading role... in fostering the spread of primary education." In the Chapter held in 1580, as a supplement to the establishment of poblados
or reducciones, he also proposed that an escuela de primeras letras be constructed beside the church.
Evergisto Bazaco, a famous historian of the Philippine educational system, recognized
the efforts done by this friar by writing some lines about him:
"Among the propositions
of Fr. Plasencia for ecclesiastical and goverment approval was the following one: 'Formar escuelas de primeras letras, en
donde se ense_ase a los filipinos no solo la doctrina cristiana, a leer y escribir, sino tambien algunas artes y oficios,
con el fin de que fueran despues, no solo buenos cristianos, sino tambien utiles ciudadanos.'
This was approved in the conference presided over by the first bishop of the Philippines."
The pedagogy employed by Plasencia was many years ahead of his time. He is said to have introduced the Lancaster method about in the Philippines two and a half centuries before Joseph Lancaster himself
applied it in the Americas. Fray Juan made use of his creativity to supplement the deficiency of educational
materials, utilizing sand boxes as blackboard, banana leaves for paper, and bamboo sticks for pen. In his account on Plasencia, Vicente Barrantes, describes the method quite poetically in Spanish:
"Figuraos... a la
sombra de un tapanco de ca_a o nipa, sentados en el suelo como los arabes, cuya melancolia y actitudes han heredado, muchos ni_os de color verdoso, inteligente y
vivaz... Tienen a la mano sendos cajones llenos de blanca y fin_sima arena, donde
un dedo m_s experto que el suyo ha trazado letras y palabras. Tienen otros hojas
extensas de platano, turgentes y blanquecinas como pedazos de cielo alboreantes, donde con una astilla de bamb_ graban los niños las mismas palabras
que oyen pronunciar a sus compa_eros de lectura. Entre ambas filas se pasean
con gravedad otros niños que ya saben aquella lecci_n; y ac_rcandose ora a un compa_ero, ora a otro, les corrigen... En el
fondo del cuadro... un fraile... apoya los codos sobre una mesa, do van poni_ndole delante los infantiles directores aquellas
hojas de pl_tano, por el rustico estilete agujereades. En el mismo idioma tan
sonoro como carinoso... les hace el padre en voz baja sus
The escuela, however, was not only a venue to learn the three "R's": reading, writing,
and arithmetic, it was also put up as a way to teach the natives to disregard their old superstitious beliefs and practices
which still hindered them to become real Christians. The adult natives, albeit
baptized, were still submissive to the customs laid down by their ancestors. And the friars saw the difficulty in convincing
these adults to renounce completely their heathen past.
As a consequence, the friars, inspired by their brothers in Mexico established the escuela
de niños (school for boys). They realized that the most effective way of teaching the natives was to start
when there are still young. At first the gathering the boys in the escuelas was
not easy because their parents strongly opposed it; but by masterful persuasion, abounding patience and inexhaustible charity
of Plasencia and his friars, who developed a profound understanding of the nature of the native Filipinos, and saw in them
great docility and propensity to learn and work hard, these schools for boys prospered.  In the ensuing years, the escuelas become the so-called seminarios built close to the church and the conventos of the friars where young boys from age eight to twenty were
trained in Christian values, reading, writing, and also in music.
5.4. Pastoral Organizer: Father of the Filipino Barangay
The pre-hispanic Filipinos did not possess a high level of social organization. Although they lived in small communities called the barangays, this did not guarantee
an organized socio-political and religious network comparable to European standard nor to the Aztecs and Incas of the Americas. These communities were scattered all over the many islands of the archipelago. And the natives were mostly
subsistence farmers or fishermen, and occupied an area where they could easily farm, hunt and fish. In this kind of circumstances, the friars discovered it too difficult to pursue a systematic instruction
especially for the neo-converts. However their six months stopover in Mexico gave this first Franciscans
in the Philippines a chance to experience -not only theoretically but in
practice, as well- the methods employed by the brothers there and this provided them a solution on how to remedy this problem. The solution
was the reduccion system, i.e., to "reduce" or "re-settle" the natives in central
5.4.1. Basic Principles behind the Reduccion System
Reduccion was the technical term used in Spanish laws concerning the Indies, referring to the congregating of native inhabitants
in pueblos. This policy was part of the Spanish colonial experience in the New World, and it also became the model for the Philippines, with the difference
that whereas in Spain's American colonies resettlement was carried out jointly by Church and State, the system in the Philippines was mainly and practically
the work of the friars.
This method of colonization and christianization applied by the missionaries is based
on the anthropological view of man prevalent during the Middles Ages. The medieval idea of the unity of God,
the unity of mankind and of society, the concept of order and hierarchy, the vision of things sub specie aeternitatis, and
the humanitarian preoccupation of the developing Modern Age, all these inspired the Spanish missionaries to dispel the darkness
of error among the indigenous inhabitants so that they too could be part of the one Catholic Church and subjects of their
Catholic sovereigns of Spain. According to the mentality of the age, new people
who were to be accepted into the fold of the one Church must also conform to the new life-style and new mode of thinking. Being inheritors of the Greco-Roman urbanism, the missionaries instinctively then
noted down that the Filipinos were not conforming to this form of civilization, hence, they are "living without polity, i.e.,
sin pulicia, which is synonymous to barbarism." Therefore, they should be re-settled together in
villages or pueblos because "man as a social being ought to be in communion with his fellow men, and it was only through this
daily contact with others that he might hope to achieve a measure of his potentiality."
Then, the missionaries began to speak about their task as a spiritual as
well as a temporal conquest. Like the civil conquistadores, they were as zealous
in promoting the glory of the ambas majestades, i.e., the glory of God and the
king. To reach these objectives among the natives, again
they must be resettled in communities or villages where they could live as children of the Church and vassals of the Catholic
5.4.2. Carta al Rey (1585)
Thus, it was for the above reasons and principles that in June 18, 1585, in Manila, Juan de Plasencia wrote to the Spanish
king requesting him for authorization and funding to form "poblaciones de a mil o seiscientas casas... Y asi, ni se les puede
ense_ar christianidad ni pulicia" (communities of one thousand or sixty houses...and in that way, one can teach them Christianity
In the First Synod of Manila which was held three years earlier, this reduccion policy
initiated by Plasencia was unanimously agreed upon by the ecclesiastical authority and the superiors of the religious communities
present. Consequently it also received substantial backing from the civil authority. The ordinance of the then Governor Santiago de Vera suggests:
"Fray Juan de Plasencia,
Father Custodian of the Order of St. Francis, informs me that in the province (i.e., Camarines, Bicol) many of the natives
live in scattered settlement far from each other, and that the sacraments cannot be administered to them unless they come
together in larger communities to build towns for themselves; also, that none of the towns in the royal and private encomiendas
of that territory have any churches or church furniture; and he petitions that suitable provision be made. This matter having been duly considered, you are hereby ordered... to call into consultation Fray Juan
de Garrovillas, the Father Guardian of the city, and jointly with him decide what townships are to be formed and what shall
be the size and plan of the churches to be built."
5.4.3. Building of Basic Christian Communities
But this initiative of re-settling the natives into reducciones was already started by
Plasencia himself four years earlier, just shortly after their arrival and his first assignment in the Laguna de Bay area. And two years later, during the first chapter of
friars, this became the first proposal decided upon by the Custody. The
chronicler San Antonio describing the feeling of the friars about the urgency of this measure narrated:
"They realized the
great dispersion in which these natives were living, who, not content with living in the corners of the mountains, had their
houses far apart from each other. The religious were neither able to serve them
nor take care of their instruction and conversion without encountering many grave difficulties and dangers in mountains, rivers,
abysses, crypts, and most especially the perils from beasts, venomous animals, as well as from the Negritos and Cimarrones,
who are more bloodthirsty than the wild animals. For this reason the religious
unanimously held that it would be convenient... to build some permanent churches where all the natives could be gathered to
hear the Christian doctrine, and partake of the spiritual food, and where the religious could teach, instruct, and administer
the holy baptism and other sacraments..."
The beginning of the re-settlement was signalled by the erection of a church in the center
of the site. Then an open atrium or patio was laid out in front of it, around
which houses in rectangular street block were built. A small edificio to serve
as convento was also constructed beside the church, and also the escuela closeby. The
physical lay-out of the re-settlement was "ecclesio-centric", i.e., the church in the center, so that the houses were metaphorically
located bajo la campana.
The community, then, was divided into smaller groups according to kinship and/or friendship
ties, and a cabeza de barangay (chief) was appointed for each group. With the
Church, the convento, the escuela, side by side in the center, and the natives' houses around them, the early barangay, then,
became the nucleus which developed into a pueblo or town in the later years until at present.
At first, the natives resisted this reducci_n policy because of practical reasons, espcially
for subsistence farmers who wanted to remain close to their rice-fields And some of them who had bad experiences living
close to the sea coast, did not want anymore to become easy prey of Moro raids. But despite this, through religious and other
persuasions and enticements, the initiative was effective and successful. Only
after a brief period of time since it was started, Plasencia and his companions were able to found the following pueblos of
Calilaya, Tayabas, Lucban, Mahayhay, Nagcarlan, Lilio, Pila, Santa Cruz, Lumban, Pangil, Paete, Siniloan, Morong, Pililla,
Antipolo and Meycauayan. In the Friars' Chapter of 1583 presided by Pablo de
Jesus, and when Juan de Plasencia was elected as the next Custos, other doctrinas in Bicol founded the previous years were also approved.
This initiative of Fray Juan de Plasencia which has shaped immensurably the present and future set-up of the Philippine
towns and cities, and the society in general earned him among his biographers and historiographers the title "Father of the
Filipino Barangay" or Padre de la reducci_n.
5.5. The Ethnographer
In 1583, there were some reported cases of natives' uprising against the encomenderos. Apparently the reason was the abuses and maltreatment that the native workers received
from these encomenderos who tried to enrich themselves by enslaving the latter. The
delay of a goverment action complicated more the problem. This account of D.
Trinidad Pardo de Tavera narrates the situation encountered by Santiago de Vera who came in 1584 to preside over the new Audiencia
"the state of things
in which he found the country, the injustices which were committed on every side, the violent means to which the oppressed
found themselves obliged to resort for self-defense, impressed him deeply - above all - when in 1585 rebellion was declared
by the Pampango and Tagal Indians. That prudent magistrate comprehended that
the first thing which he must do in order to rule with justice was to understand the usages and customs of the country which
he was commissioned to rule; and it was then that, knowing the remarkable abilities of the virtuos Fray Juan de Plasencia,
Dr. Vera wrote to him, asking that he would inform him in regard to the social and political organization of the Tagalogs."
That Plasencia responded positively to De Vera's request is a proven historical fact
given that the title of his work, the Relaci_n de las costumbres que los indios sol_an tener en estas islas... bears his name
and the work itself concluded with the date and place of composition and his signature. Another work, the Instrucci_n de la costumbres
que antiguamente ten_an los naturales de Panpamga en sus pleitos, is attributed to him but with some reservations because
of the lack of date and his signature. However, a third one, Relacion del culto
que los indios tagalos tenian y dioses que adoraban sus entierros y supersticiones, still casts stronger doubts on his authorship,
although many of the chroniclers assigned it to him. This third work, notwithstanding important and
significant as the rest, would not be discussed here due to the prevailing circumstances mentioned.
5.5.1. Relacion de las costumbres que los indios sol_an tener
en estas islas, hecha por fray joan de Plasen_ia, de la Orden de San Francisco, y enviada a el doctor Santiago de Vera, presidente
de la real audencia que reside en estas islas, Nagcarlang, 24 de octubre, 1589.
The oldest copy of this work is found in the Autos de buen gobierno prove_dos por la
Audiencia de Filipinas, unos de oficio y otros a peticion del Fiscal (desde el 8 de Junio de 1598 al 13 Julio de 1599). The Relacion, clearly Plasencia's most important
work, was also oftentimes quoted, cited and even sometimes copied in its entirety, later by the folowing authors: La Llave, San
Antonio, Pablo Rojo, Pardo de Tavera, Alejandro Paterno, A. Morga,
Lorenzo Perez, Blair and Robertson, and other contemporary historians and writers.
This Relacion, as far as the history of the Philippines is concerned, is quite
exceptional, not to mention, as well, with its effects to the early legal system of the country. It did not only preserve to posterity the formerly unwritten customs, traditions and beliefs of the natives,
but it also gave the Philippines its first Civil Code, used by the alcaldes-mayores in their administration of justice.
The Relacion treats of the government of the Tagalog, their administration of justice,
slavery, inheritance, social system, and marriages. It speaks of the barangay,
consisting of one hundred houses, as the unit of government, ruled by a datu or maginoo; the people divided into three distinct
social classes: the maharlica (nobility and freemen), the aliping namamahay (commoners), and the aliping sa guiguilir (the
slaves); of the ownership of property; of the children - natural and adopted -; of marriage; and of crimes and punishment. It also explains the relation between these social classes and the origin of each. Thus, it states three ways of how a man may becaome a slave; namely: birth, debt,
and captivity in war. It tells, as well, of the king and of the duties he rendered
to his subjects.
This "Civil Code", in a way, gave the natives the opportunity and indispensible tool
to protect and defend themselves in legal cases, and for the administrators of justice, to conduct their duties and obligations
5.5.2. Ynstruccion de las costumbres que antiguamente
ten_an los naturales de Panpanga.
It was the Jesuit, Pablo Pastells, in his edition of the Labor evangelica of Francisco
Col_n, who first gave notice of the existence of this work. The difference of this Ynstrucion with the
other Relacion, is that it does not have a heading caption, date and signature of the author, except that it concludes with
these words: "Todo lo dicho he procurado saber de los mas viejos desta provincia y de todos los priores della; si no fuese
puesto por tan buen estilo como debia, suplico a V. Se_or_a, por mi voluntad, sea perdonado el malo que lleva et." Lorenzo Perez convincingly attributed this work
to Plasencia on the basis of the above and a certain letter written by Pastells confirming the authorship by Plasencia.
The Ynstruccion contains 22 paragraphs which appear like a series of penal codes. Except for the last, which serves as the conclusion, and the first and second paragraphs
(introduction and the legal order), the work could be summarized as follows:
a) On the corresponding penalties for each crime
(nos. 3 - 15).
b) On marriage, dowry and inheritance (nos. 16-19).
c) On the delivery and distribution of slaves
d) On the oath of the constituents in a lawsuit
A report bearing the title: Relacion de las islas filipinas is said to have been found preserved
in the Library of the British Museum, the Lilly Libray of Indiana and in the Archives of the Indies in Sevilla. This Relacion, considered as the first printed news on the Philippines, is a very important
document since it is totally dedicated to the spreading of information about the country in the early years of the Spanish
colonization. Cayetano Sanchez, taking into account the style, content, and date,
and obviously without discounting other possibilities, suggests that Juan de Plasencia could be its probable author.
Lorenzo Perez, quoting an early chronicler of the Province of San Jose, P. Marcos de Alcala, noted that Plasencia also
composed another Relacion de las cosas memorables de Philipinas, bearing the date 19 June 1585. Huerta also mentioned the same thing. Unfortunately a copy of the text could not be located elsewhere.
5.6. Defender of the Rights of the Native Filipinos
One of the visions of the Franciscans who came to the Philippines is the genuine living
out of the evangelical counsels. As has been noted already in the previous section
of this study, the main reason that these discalzed friars branched out from the main Franciscan stream was their desire to
live especially the vow of poverty more radically and, if not, to the fullest. All
the chroniclers of the Province and even non-Franciscan writers of the friars' history in the Philippines would attest to this
fact. This was shown not only in their very own poor lifestyle but also in their
dedication to the care of the poor, the sick and the abused. This option for
the poor among the friars was manifested in two forms: first, in their preferential care for the sick and second, in their concern for justice and the defense of the rights of the natives.
When the Dominican Bishop, Domingo Salazar denounced, among others, the oppressive collection
of taxes by the encomenderos, some of those religious who rallied behind him were the Franciscan superiors. And when the same
bishop called a council to address the issue of the emancipation of the Filipino slaves, again the Franciscan superiors (Plasencia
was one of them.) were present to support him.
This was basically the main objective of Plasencia when he composed the Relacion de las
Costumbres and Instruccion, i.e., to put an end to some injustices being committed against the natives by certain government
officials. The chronicler, Francis enemies, and so I can hardly express the sadness
I feel any time the news of such incidents reach my ears or I myself am involved; however, if one is to choose between enmity
and friendship and between peace and war, I believe enmity is to be preferred. For
considering the kind of persons most of the alcaldes mayores are nowadays, nothing indicates that friendship with them will
help the missions in any way. On the contrary, it will destroy them. Because, as I have observed, you can hardly find one that is not blinded and moved by greediness, thus
destroying his own soul as well as the lives and possessions of the poor Indians.'"
All of the early chroniclers of the Province of St. Gregory agree to this fact. Cfr. La Llave, IV
tiennio, cap. 10; Santa Inés, I, pp. 512-522; San Antonio, II, p. 512 ss.; Huerta,
pp. 499-500; Gómez Platero, pp. 17-18. Sources on the birth and family background
of Juan de Plasencia are unfortunately few and sketchy. However, these various
information contained in the accounts of these chroniclers would serve enough to reconstruct the more important events in
the life of Fray Juan.
Lorenzo Pérez in Pérez-Plasencia,
p. 52 n. 1, wrote that biographer Barrantes in his Narraciones extremeñas, part.
II, pag. 197, n. 3, Madrid, 1875, quoting the Memorial de la calidad y servicios de
D. Alvaro de Ulloa, fol. 123v., Madrid, 1675, mentioned that in a certain testimony dated June 20, 1574, Don Pedro Portocarrero
declared his children as namely: D. Alfonso Pacheco Portocarrero, D. Pedro Portocarrero, D.
Juan Portocarrero, D. Rodrigo Pacheco, Doña Beatriz, Doña Ana, and Doña Inés Portocarrero.
Santa Inés, ibid. See also, La Llave, ibid.; Gómez Platero, ibid. The most recent study on the life of Plasencia was the article of Rafael Mota Murillo,
"Juan de Plasencia, Franciscano, Promotor de la Educación y Etnógrafo (1520?-1590)" in Sebastián García, OFM, ed. Extremadura en La
Evangelízación del Nuevo Mundo, Actas y Estudios, Congresso celebrado en Guadalupe,
24-29 octubre 1988, (Madrid: Turner Libros S.A., 1990), pp. 607-623. Using the
informations of the early chroniclers of the Province, he came up with this probable biodata of Fray Juan de Plasencia (Cfr.
- 1520, born in Plasencia.
- 1536-37, investiture
of the habit and profession
in the Franciscan Order.
- 1545, ordained to the
- 1577, resident, preacher,
in the Descalzed
Convent of Villanueva de la Serena.
Platero, ibid.: "Tomó el hábito siendo jóven en la Claustra de
Italia, de donde volvió a España incorporándose a la Provincia observate de Santiago y despues ansiando mayor perfeccion se
incorporó a la Provincia de San Jose."
Ribadeneira, p. 206: "tomó este apostólico varon el hábito en
la religiosissima Provincia de Santiago, seminario que ha sido y será, con el favor divino, de gravissimos religiosos, y por
perficionarse en la santa pobreza, se pasó a la Provincia de San Joseph, adonde de diversas Provincias se recogieron grandes
religiosos que la fundaron".
Cfr. HIE, pp. 253-255.
Cfr. Pedro Borges Morán, "Perfil Sociológico de los Misioneros
Extreme_os en America", and Jesús Gonzáles Valles and Caytano Sánchez Fuertes, "Religiosos Extremeños Evangelizadores de Extremo
Oriente (Siglo XVI-XIX)", both articles in S. García, op. cit., pp. 179-210 and
pp. 567-579 respectively.
Plasencia-Perez, p. 53.
For the copy of the whole text see "Lista de los misioneros que fueron despachadas en la Casa de Contracion de Sevilla
para las islas Filipinas el dia 21 de Mayo de 1577, segun el Asiento de pasajeros, anos 1577-1620. Libro donde se tiene la
quenta y razon de los religiosos que por mandado de Su Magestad passan a las Yndias.- Se comenza el ano de IvDLXXVII en adelante,"
in Perez, Origen, pp. 184-186. The
original document can be located in the AGI, sig. 48.-I.3/19.
Much of this information has already been mentioned in Part One.
La LLave, primer trennio, cap. 4: "a la provincia de la Laguna,
al pueblo de Lumbang, fue el padre fray Juan de Plasencia, predicador, y al pueblo de Pila el padre fray Diego de Oropresa,
confesor, y desde alli corrian los dos las serran_as hasta Tayabas y toda la 'silangan'
de la Laguna."
Perez, Origen, pp.
25-26. In 1580 the community held the election of the new Custos, Pablo de Jesus.
Cfr. Perez-Plasencia, p. 53.
Gomez Platero, p. 18.
Cfr. Enciclopedia Universal
Ilustrada Europeo-Americana (Espasa-Calpe), s.v. "Plasencia, Juan de."; See also, Biograf_a
Eclesi_stica, vol. 8 (Madrid, 1863), pp. 847-857.
San Antonio, pp. 525-579.
Ante, op. cit., p.
See J.S. Cummins, "Two Missionary Methods in China: Mendicants and Jesuits," Espa_a en Extremo Oriente,
ed. by Victor Sanchez and Cayetano S. Fuertes (Madrid, 1979), pp. 33-108. See also C.R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan,
1549-1650 (Berkeley: UCP, 1967), pp. 230-247.
These authors made some interesting studies on the methods applied by both the Franciscan and the Jesuits. There were indeed controversies which arose from the approaches used by these Orders. These works however gave us a chance to review somehow the problems and re-evaluate the distinct positions
of these two groups of missionaries.
The Filipino historian, Horacio de la Costa, SJ, even mentioned
that "As soon as it (the permission to accept mission stations) was received, the priests (Jesuits) of the Manila community got down to a really serious study
of Tagalog. They borrowed the grammar and vocabulary which the Franciscans had
composed and held regular classes for three months (July-Sept. 1590)." H. de
la Costa, S.J., The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581-1768 (Cambridge, 1961), p. 136. More accounts
on the relationship between the Jesuits and Franciscans could be found in pp. 10, 35, 72-73, 180, & 203 of the same work.
Ante, op. cit., p.
Ribadeneira, pp. 338-339.
"Early Franciscan Missions, 1640-1649", in BRPI 35:310-322.
Leandro Tormo Sanz in his article, "Metodo de aprendizaje de lenguas
empleado por los franciscanos en Japon y Filipinas (ss. XVI-XVII)", en AIA, v.
38, pp. 377-405., maintains that some friars of the first expedition to the Philippines were well-acquainted with the missionary
methods of Fray Alonso de Molina, a 16th century franciscan missionary in Mexico (see p. 385). His works include: Doctrina Xtiana breve (1546), Vocabulario en la lengua Castellana y Mexicana
(1555), Confessionario breve en lengua Mexicana y Castellana (1565), and Arte de la lengua Mexicana y Castellana (1571).
Cfr. "Early Franciscan Missions", BRPI.
Perez, Origen, p. 120:
"Que se escribiese una gram_tica y un vocabulario de la lengua tagala, y se tradujese al mismo idioma la doctrina cristiana,
lo cual encomendaron al P. Juan de Plasencia, como mas aventajado en la lengua."
This young lad was called Salvador before he changed his name to Miguel when he
entered the Order. Cfr. Huerta, pp. 499-500.
"Fr. Miguel de Talavera, predicador..., natural de Nueva Granada (the present Colombia), en America.." Cfr. Huerta, ibidem. The
young Miguel also helped Father Plasencia in the compilation of his earliest works in Tagalog, and to him in part must be
attributed the extraordinary efforts done for the production of the texts in so short a time and with so few years in the
country. Miguel de Talavera, inspired by his mentor Plasencia, entered the Order
later. Cfr. Gomez Platero, p. 49; See also Mariano Rubio, op. cit., pp. 119-120.
Perez, Origen, p. 136.
Cfr. "Carta del P. Juan de Plasencia al Rey, Manila, 18 de Junio de 1585," en P_rez,
Origen, pp. 287-288. See also, E.
Retana, Origenes de la imprenta filipina (Madrid, 1811), p. 29.
 The "Leyenda Negra". Quoted by Cummins, op. cit., 33-109.
This phrase, "for not putting it in good order" (in the original
Spanish text, "por no estar puesta en buen orden") refers to the controversy regarding the author of the first "Arte" and "Vocabulario" among the Franciscans and the Agustinians. P_rez in his Origen, p. 136, n. 2, maintains
that chroniclers, Martinez (lib. I, cap. XVI, n.113), Huerta (p. 443), Gomez Platero (p. 17), Rojo in Santa In_s (Apendice III), affirmed that
"el P. Plasencia fu_ el primero que form_ el Vocabulario y Arte para aprender la lengua tagala, a lo que no asienten y, al
parecer, con raz_n, los Padres Agustinos, quienes dan la primacia, en cuanto se refiere a la Gram_tica o Arte, al P. Agustin
de Alburquerque (cfr. Catalogo gio-bliografico de los religiosos Agustinos, por
el P. Elviro J. P_rez, p. 14, Manila, 1901), pues seg_n el testimonio del P. La Llave, antes de que el P. Plasencia escribiera su Gram_tica debia existir otra, 'aunque no estaba
puesta buen orden'." See also, Edwin Wolf 2nd, "Introductory Essay," in Facsimile Edition of the First Book printed in the Philippines, The Doctrina Christiana,
Manila, 1593 (Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress, Washington),
La Llave. Quoted
by Perez, Origen, p. 136-137.
Huerta, p. 444; G_mez Platero, pp. 590-603; Cassanova, pp. 81-82.
Cayetano Sanch_z Fuertes, archivist of AFIO and Antolin Abad,
Director of AIA, told this writer that, except for some of his letters which could be located in AGI in Sevilla, the original
texts of his works are nowhere to be found. All citations on his works in this
paper are based on secondary sources by his biographers and other authors.
Phelan, op. cit., p.
Huerta, p. 444, assigned 1581 as the year when the work was approved
by the synod, "Catecismo tagalog de la doctrina cristiana, a_o de 1581, aprobado
por el Sinodo celebrado en Manila el dicho a_o." Clearly he was wrong. The Synod was held in 1582 (mentioned already elsewhere here).
Santa In_s, p. 211. See
also, San Antonio, pp. 532-533 and 563.
La LLave, op. cit. See also P_rez, Origen, p. 137 n. 2: "Este Catecismo del P. Plasencia, con peque_as variantes, es el mismo que hasta el d_a de hoy se viene poniendo en las
manos de los ni_os en los pueblos de administraci_n franciscana del tagalog. En
las ediciones modernas lleva este titulo: Librong pinagpapalemnan nang manga panalangin at Tocsohan
aral nang Dios; esto es, Libro que contiene oraciones y la doctrina cristiana ense_anza de
Doctrina Christiana, en
la lengua espa_ola y tagala, corregida por los Religiosos de las Ordenes. Impressa con licencia, en S. Gabriel, de la orden
de S. Domingo. En Manila, 1593. This is one of the three Doctrinas claimed to be the first books to be printed in the Philippines. The other two
were: Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua China, compuesta por los madres ministros de los Sangleyes, de la Orden de Sancto Domingo.
Con licencia, por Ken Yong, China,
en el Parian de Manila. and Tratado de la
Doctrina de la Santa Iglesia y de ciencias naturales. Cfr. Carlos Quirino, "The First Philippine Imprints", Foreward in
Doctrina Christiana, The First Book Printed in the Philippines, Manila, 1593 (National Historical Commission, Manila, 1973),
pp. iii-xi. The volume was printed throughout by the xylographic method, i.e.,
each page of the text is printed from one wood block which was carved by hand. This
was the manner of printing employed by the Chinese, a thousand years before Gutenberg invented the press with movable type.
Ibid., p. xi. See
also, Cayetano S_nchez, "Los Franciscanos y la imprenta en Filipinas (Notas para la historia de la imprenta franciscana. 1578-1846),"
Missionalia Hispanica 38 (1981), p. 12; and Jos_ Luis Porras Cam_nez, Sinodo de Manila de 1582 (Madrid, 1988), p. 35.
Juan de la Concepcion, Historia
general de Philipinas, vol. 2 (Manila, 1788-1792), pp. 45-46.
Cfr. Edwin Wolf 2nd, op.
cit., pp. 5-6.
De la Costa, The Jesuits...,
It is quite interesting to know how the first Tagalog catechism
was taught by the friars. This method had been institutionalized by the Franciscans
in the later years that it was already included in their statutes. This section here is mostly taken from the Estatutos y Ordenaciones
de la Santa Provincia de S. Gregorio de religiosos Descalzos de la regular y mas estrecha Observancia de N.S.P.S. Francisco
de Philipinas, 1730 (Manila, 1753), p. 132, about one and half centuries after Plasencia composed the Tocsohan.
The Misa Mayor is the community Sung Mass in which the entire
parish (pueblo)was expected to attend on Sundays, holy days and fiestas. Cfr.
Luis Balquiedra, The Development of the Ecclesial and Liturgical Life in the Spanish Philippines (Ph.D. diss.,
Pont. Athenaem Anselmianum, 1982), p. 487.
Estatutos, ibid. A platica
is the exhortation or sermon given by the missionaries to the natives for the purpose of indoctrination; tiple is a boy with a soprano voice, usually supplying the female voice in an all-boy choir. Cfr. Balquiedra, op. cit., pp. 489, 492.
Gomez Platero, ibid.; Casanova, p. 82.
Martinez, ibid.; Huerta, p. 444; Platero, ibid.; Santa In_s, ibid.;
San Antonio, p. 532.
Gomez Platero, pp. 49-50: "...Fray Juan Oliver, que lleg_ a dominar
con perfeccion los idiomas tagalog y bicol en los que escribi_ diez y ocho libros y opusculos de Doctrina Cristiana (...),
un tomo de sermones, de platicas y mejoro y aumento el Arte y Diccionario del Venerable Plasencia."
Perez, Origen, pp.
16 & 133. De Baeza was the first apostle to the province of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union,
Zambales and Bataan. Cfr.
Gomez Platero, p. 24.
Phelan, op. cit., p.
Perez, Origen, p. 134.
Evergisto Bazaco, History
of Education in the Philippines (Manila, 1939), p.474.
Lancaster died in New York in 1838. The method is also attributed to the Scottish
Andres Bell, a professor in Madras in 1780. Cfr. Perez, ibid.
In the Tagalog region this is called Ugali ng matatanda (literally means, "attitude of the elders"). By
the force of these Ugali and the Wika ng
matatanda ("sayings of the elders), the pre-hispanic religion did not entirely disappear even among the baptized. Cfr. Balquiedra, op. cit., p. 100.
Cfr. Phelan, op. cit.,
Cfr. Ribadeneira, p. 77.
Murillo, op. cit.,
Cfr. Recopilaci_n de Leyes
de los Reynos de Indias
mandadas imprimir y publicar por la Megestad Cat_lica de Rey Don Carlos II Nuestro Se_or (Reimpresion del Consejo de la Hispanidad, Madrid: Graficas Ultra, S.A., 1943).
Renato Constantino, The
Philippines - A Past Revisited (Quezon City: RC, 1975), pp. 60-61.
Cfr. A. Escalona Ramos, El
espiritu de la Edad Media y Am_rica (Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hisp_nica, 1959).
Phelan, op. cit., p.
De la Costa, Readings in
Philippine History (Manila, 1965), p. 65.
"Carta del P. Juan de Plasencia al Rey, Manila, 18 de Junio de 1585," en P_rez, Origen, p. 288.
Cfr. De la Costa, Readings,
"Instructions to Juan de Bustamante, alcalde mayor of Camarines, Manila, 8 Sept. 1585," in San Antonio, II, pp. 148-149. Quoted by De la Costa, ibid.
Perez, Origen, p. 129:
"P. Juan de Plasencia, principal promovedor de todas estas obras, fue destinado por el Padre Alfaro a la laguna de Bay, donde
di_ principio a la oragnizaci_n de los antiguos barangais, persuadiendo a los indios a que abandonando los bosques, se establecieran
en las playas, en donde les ordenaba construir un tuguriio de ca_a y nipa, que pudiera seriv de templo, y una peque_a vivienda
para el misionero."
The strategy after a time (esp. in the 18th century) came to be
known as reduccion bajo la campana, i.e., re-settlement within the hearing distance
of the church bells that served as "criers" to tell the people when and what to pray, when to go to church for religious instruction
and liturgical services, and when to go home in the evening. Cfr. Alicia Coseteng, Spanish Churches in the Philippines
(Quezon City, 1972).
The development of this system became phenomenal esp. in the 17th
and 18th centuries; from the simple reduccion, to the doctrinas (with a resident doctrinero or minister) or the visitas or rancher_as (no resident doctrinero),
then, to the cabeceras, the pueblos, and
the parr_quias. Cfr. J. Specker, Die Missionsmethode in Spanisch America im 16. Jahrhundert mit besonderer Berchsichtigung der Konzilien und Synoden (Schoeneck/Beckenried: NZM, 1953), p. 10, 22, 23.
Rosales, op. cit., p.
Ante, op. cit., p.
The re-settlement was called differently in diverse circumstances:
misi_n, conversi_n, reducci_n, doctrina.
But practically they all had the same meaning. Cfr. J. Specker, op. cit., p. 22.
Pardo de Tavera, "Las costumbres de los tagalos de Filipinas seg_n
el P. Plasencia," Revista contempor_nea, ano XVIII, num. 397, 15 de junio de 1892,
pags. 450-451. Quoted by Perez-Plasencia, p. 55.
"De Nagcarlang, veynte y quatro de octubre de mil quinientos y
ochenta y nueve anos. Fray Joan de Plasencia."
These chroniclers are Santa In_s (I, c. XLIX), San Antonio (II,
II, c. XXXI), Domingo Martinez (I, c. XVI) and Pablo Rojo (in Santa In_s). The
work, however, is supposedly by La Llave and not Plasencia. Cfr. Perez, p. 139. See also, Murillo, op. cit., pp. 617, 621.
The original text can be located in AGI in Sevilla (Sig. 67-6-18;
33 fols.). A photocopy of both the Relacion
and this Autos... is conserved in the AFIO, Madrid.
La Llave, tienio IV, c. XI, pp. 264-271; San Antonio, p. 149;
Pablo Rojo, in Sta. Ines, Apendice III, t. II, pp. 592-598; T. Pardo de Tavera, op.
cit., pp. 457-458; Paterno, El Barangay (Madrid, 1892), pp. 89-112; Morga, Sucesos.., c. VIII, pp. 191-195; F. Col_n, lib. I, c. XVI, pp.
70-77; Lorenzo Perez in Perez-Plasencia;
Blair and Robertson, English trans. in BRPI, 7:173-185.
The Relacion was also
later called: Codigo civil y Codigo penal consuetudinarios de los filipinos. Cfr. Perez-Plasencia, p. 54.
F. Colin, Labor evangelica,
ed. Pablo Pastells, (Barcelona, 1900-1902), t. I, lib. III, c. IX, p_g. 131: "En la Instrucci_n
de las costumbres que antiguamente tenian los naturales de la Pampanga en sus pleitos, dice el mencionado P. Plasencia,
en el numero 20." Quoted by Perez-Plasencia, p. 59.
Cfr. Mota Murillo, op. cit., ibid.
Cfr. Cayetano Sanchez, "The First Printed Report on the Philippine
Islands", in Philippiniana Sacra, Vol. XXVI-no. 78 (Sept.-Dec., 1991), pp. 473-500. A
copy of the whole text of the Report both in Spanish and English is also supplemented in the article.
Alcala, part. II, lib.II, cap.VII, n.203. Quoted by P_rez, Origen, p. 139.
One of the Franciscan pioneers, the lay brother Juan Clemente, founded the Hospitalito
de Santa Ana which was the forerunner of San Lazaro Hospital, the first Leprosarium in the Far East, and the San Juan de Dios
Hospital, oldest existing also in the Far East, and four others. They put also other infirmaries and made studies on herbal
medicine. Cfr. Pastrana, op. cit., pp. 101-107.
Cfr. "Bishop Salazar's Council Regarding Slaves" in BRPI, 34:324-331.
Santa Ines, pp. 515-516.