As had happened similar novitiates in Goa and in Mexico City, the early entrants were Europeans. In Manila, the first Filipino to make Augustinian vows was Martin Lacandula in 1590. The Book of Augustinian Professions at the Monastery of San Agustin, Intramuros lists that after 1641 (unfortunately the first book is missing) 250 native Filipinos joined the Order of Saint Augustine.
For example, in 1641 there were 160 Spaniards and 38 Filipinos in the Order in the Philippines. In the history of the Philippines Province, special mention needs to be made of a number of Philippine-born Augustinians, most particularly the botanist Ignacio Mercado O.S.A. and the historian, Anselmo de San Prospero O.S.A.
One of the earliest Filipinos in the Order of Saint Augustine was Brother Marcelo de San Agustin O.S.A., who died in 1697. He was a descendant of one of the original owners of the land upon which was built the Church of San Agustin in Intramuros. Father Benito de Mena Salazar O.S.A. was a mestizo from Vigan, Ilocos Sur. He evangelised the mountains of Ilocos Norte; he died in Bacarra in 1676. Father Ignacio Mercado O.S.A., a mestizo (i.e., a person with one parent Spanish and the other Filipino) from Paranaque, Manila was a botanist. He propagated cocao in Bauan, Batangas, where he died in 1698. The Philippines Revolution of 1896 caused the Order of Saint Augustine its heaviest losses in the entire 19th century. It swept away much of what the Order had previously done in the Philippines. In 1899, for instance, the Order of Saint Augustine was removed from 194 parishes and 100 mission stations, which were handed over to diocesan clergy. About 240 members were deprived on their income from ministry (benefice), and 122 Augustinians were captives of the insurgents.
Within a few short years of 1898, the Philippines Province had only a tenth of the houses in the Philippines that it had possessed there before the revolution. In the Philippines the Order retained only a few parishes, including their main foundations in Cebu, Manila and Iloilo. There were only thirty-eight Augustinians available for ministry in the Philippines. Many of the Spanish priests of the Province either returned to Spain or were deployed to Augustinian missions in Latin America. The work of the Order in Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia received great benefit from these men. In addition to the 122 Augustinians who were captives, four hundred other Augustinians had for immediate refuge moved to San Agustin in Intramuros, Manila, to Macau, or to the Augustinian monasteries at Valladolid and La Vid in Spain. In this way, 284 Augustinians departed from the Philippines. Although in 1900 the Province had only 38 Augustinians in the Philippines, in total internationally it had 30 houses, 370 priests, 64 lay brothers and 152 candidates. As well as assist Latin America, in the next seventeen years it opened as many as twenty houses and schools in Spain itself.
Another consequence of the above difficulties was the transfer of the headquarters of the Province from Manila to Madrid in 1901 when Fr Jose Lobo O.S.A. was Provincial. In 1927 the Provincial Gaudencio Castrillo O.S.A. returned the Provincial residence to Manila, but it was again moved back to Spain in 1935, just one year before the Spanish Civil War. Disaster struck the Province in the Philippines again in World War II, leaving in ruins from aerial bombing and artillery shells the two monasteries at Intramuros and Cebu, and the school in Iloilo. Thirteen Augustinians in Manila were killed by the departing Japanese armed forces. In the Philippines in the early 1950s there was only one Filipino Augustinian and about fifteen Spanish Augustinians who were present in Manila, Cebu, Pampanga and Iloilo. Five or six U.S. Augustinians came on loan after the War to help the Order run the University of San Agustin for a couple of years, while young friars from Spain of the Philippine Province were studying for their Master's degrees in the U.S.A., or learning the English language in Australia. One of the American friars is the now candidate for beatification, John McKniff O.S.A., later a bishop in Cuba.
There was no official Augustinian policy to recruit Filipino vocations during that time, and among the Filipino Augustinians in 2010, two of the eldest made their simple vows in 1951 and 1955 respectively. All the rest came afterwards.
Photos (at left):Picture 1: Staircase at San Augustin monastery, Intramuros (Manila). Picture 2: Cantorial (large choral manuscript) at San Augustin Church, Intramuros (Manila).Picture 3: Carved main church door, San Agustin, Intramuros (Manila).
By 1980 the Province had built itself up to 59 members in the Philippines, of whom 29 were Filipino by birth, eleven Spaniards who had become Filipinos by naturalization, three more in the process of naturalization, 14 Spaniards and two men from India. The number of Spaniards was declining, as older men died or retired to Spain. There were, however, six local novices and 15 professed Filipino students preparing for priesthood.
Already by 1974 the numbers had been sufficient to call at least for the autonomy of being a Vice Province, but nothing eventuated. Possibly this proved to be a blessing in disguise, for in 1981 a more momentous call arose instead to create an entirely new Province in the Philippines, separate from the ancient Philippines Province that for the past eighty years had been based in Spain and was by then predominantly operating outside of the Philippines.
Whereas there was an initial thought that the new Province - to be named the Province of the Holy Infant of Cebu - would take over all communities and activities that the ancient Madrid-based Province had in the Philippines, the final arrangement was that both Provinces would operate side-by-side in the Philippines. Ministries in the Philippines all were handed to the new Province of Cebu, except that the older province retained a small number of centres. This became more possible because not all Filipino Augustinians wished to transfer to the new Cebu Province when it was officially inaugurated at a ceremony in Cebú on the feast of the Santo Niño, 15th January 1984.
Religious printing and publishing.
From the 17th century up to the American period of 1890-1946, exciting events happened in the printing and publishing industries. Five religious orders consisting of the Augustinians, Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and the Augustinian Recollects came to the country, and each one established printing presses for their own use, producing not only religious materials but also grammar books and dictionaries in local dialects, etc. The Augustinians bought a press from Japan in 1565, the Jesuits bought from the Augustinians a printing press in 1623 and the Franciscans established one in 1702. There was a rapid growth of religious publications during this period and it is estimated that around 541 titles were printed.
Augustinian historical connections with the Philippines
The European history of the Philippines and the history of the Order of Saint Augustine is closely linked. When the expedition from Mexico led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrives at the shores of Cebu in 1565, Fr Andrés de Urdaneta O.S.A. and four other Augustinians were in his company. When the image of the Santo Nino was discovered in a house there, Legazpi immediately assigned the land to the Augustinians for the building of a church, and the Minor Basilica of the Santo Nino stands there today, still staffed by the Order of Saint Augustine.
Photos (at right):Picture 1: The Church of St Augustine, Manila: its facade after the 1880 earthquake, before the cracked left tower was removed.Picture 2: Its facade after the left tower was removed. Picture 3: The Minor Basilica of the Santo Nino, Cebu, Philippines.
When Legazpi officially established Manila in 1571, one of those Augustinians, Fr Diego de Herrera O.S.A., was with him. In Legazpi’s plan for a walled city that later came to be known as Intramuros, a portion was set aside for the Church of San Agustin. Still in Augustinian administration, the church is the oldest-surviving major building in Intramuros. Legazpi was laid to rest in one of the side chapels of the Church of San Agustin. In the old vestry of the church, Governor-General Fermín Jáudens signed the capitulation of Manila to the American invaders in August 1898. In the monastery a memorial was erected to the victims of the Second World War. All except one of the members of the Augustinian community, plus many other people, were killed there by the withdrawing Japanese forces in February 1945.
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Two Photo Galleries
To view the two photo galleries of the Augustinians in the Philippines in this web site, select Philippines: Province of Cebú and Philippines: Vicariate of the Orient.
Links History of the Augustinian Province of the Philippines. On Wikipedia. An excellent coverage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustinian_Province_of_the_Most_Holy_Name_of_Jesus_of_the_Philippines
Website of the Cebu Province. http://osacebu.org.ph Philippines Augustinians. Fllickr group of 680 photos. https://www.flickr.com/groups/1032159@N21