Let the Bells Ring – 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines

March 12th, 2021 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

On March 16, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines landed on Homonhon Island.  Although it is now debated whether he discovered or rediscovered the Philippines, what cannot be disputed is that with his arrival, the seeds of Christianity in the Philippines was planted. 

That was 500 years ago!

The Magellan Cross, Cebu

By the time Magellan moved to Cebu, planted the first Cross and enacted the first baptism of the King and Queen of Cebu, our fates were sealed.  Now, 86% of the Philippine population is Catholic.

Don Antonio Ponce de Leon, Duke of Arcos of Spain was sent to Manila to build a fort to protect the islands in18th century. His son, Pablo Ponce de Leon, returned to Cuyo and built the Church in Cuyo Island, Palawan as a sanctuary and a fort.  The church still stands to this day.

Then,we were besieged with the procession of missionaries of all congregations arriving to convert, teach and instill upon us their religion.

As a testimony to our faith stands the many beautiful Catholic Churches around the Philippines. and the solid educational institutions, like the University of Santo Tomas, the Pontifical Catholic University founded in 1611.  Then, there’s Collegio de San Juan de Letran, Sta. Catalina College, Sta. Isabel College and many others. What also cannot be denied is that religion is deeply embedded in our culture. We live with unwavering faith that we can surmount the challenges that befall us. When all else fails, we cling to faith to see us through. We are unshakeable in our belief that with a never ending litany of prayers, miracles are bound to happen.

The beautiful churches of the Philippines.

All religious practices are telltale signs of our religion having a strong grip in our lives.  As devout Catholics, we go through rituals with much fervor from birth to death. We immerse ourselves in the devotion of saints followed by fiestas to celebrate feast days of patron saints.

Proudly, Filipinos have two Saints they can call their own: Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, a martyr, canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 18, 1987; and Saint Pedro Calungsod, also a martyr, canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.

 Let the bells ring!  Celebrate 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines! Halleluiah! 


Devotees can join in the Celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. Below are the scheduled Masses:

  • March 14, 2021 – 10:00 a.m.  (Rome time) (5pm Manila time)  St. Peter’s Basilica,  Vatican, Rome.  The solemn mass will be concelebrated by His Holiness, Pope Francis with Cardinal Luis Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General. The mass will be live streamed on Facebook.
  • Saturday, March 13, 2021 –   Catholic Diocese of Paramatta Parish, Sydney. Main Celebrant by Father Reggie Lavilla with other priests in the Catholic Diocese of Paramatta as co-celebrants.
  • Sunday, March 14, 2021 – 11:00 a.m. The 2nd Sunday Filipino mass is scheduled St, Paul the Apostle, Winston Hills with Celebrant, Parish Priest,  Father Raning Creta.
  • Sunday, March 21, 2021 – 10.45 a.m. Nagel College Auditorium, at 58 Orwell Street, Blacktown. Filipino Chaplaincy will be celebrating the event in conjunction with the Feast Day of St. Joseph.
  • Sunday, 21 March 2021 – 12:30 a.m. – St. Christopher’s Cathedral, 55 Franklin Street, Forrest, Canberra .  Mass will be e celebrated by Most Rev. Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Most Rev. Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Papal Nuncio to Australia. The mass is organized by the Philippine Embassy. Online viewing

12 March 2021

Tags: News