Oral Histories and Christianity for Filipinos

Oral Histories and Christianity for Filipinos

Delta Women Oral Histories-1980

Religion was an important aspect in Filipino communities. From reading the transcripts of the Delta Women Oral Histories, specifically the interview transcripts of Domenica Diangson, Camila Carido, and Francis Canete, there is a certain pattern and idea that religion had on each of these women. All these women endured a hard beginning, starting with a transition from their homeland of the Philippines to the United States of America, specifically the Delta. Even before coming to the United States, each of these women were raised Catholic. Specifically, when Carole Hensley asked about religion, Domenica Diangson responded with “It’s always Catholic.” (Hensley, 3). Although religion was not the main point of these interviews, there is an importance put on religion when asked about different celebrations in the Filipino culture. Domenica Diangson describes a celebration at Saint Mary’s Church and compares it to the Mexican tradition of the Lady of Fatima. When asked about the different groups in the Catholic church like Mexicans and Irish-Catholics, Diangson believes that there is no difference between the Mexican and the Filipino and rather, Mexican and Filipinos get along in every religion. For Camila Carido, she believes that she is a good Catholic and believes that prayer is good and uses the example of her husband getting open heart surgery and her prayers helping him. Francis Canete talked about the Filipino culture and its relationship with the Church in the San Antonio Fiesta. She also believes that forcing children to follow religion is pointless because their heart and mind would not actually be there. She believed that it should be their choice if they want to be Catholic.

Overall, the Filipino women interviewed only give us a small amount of information about Christianity in the Delta. It is also important to notice that these women were all Catholic, while recently there has been a wave of Filipino Protestants. Daniel and Jason visited Seventh Day Adventist which were predominantly Filipino.


Little Manila is in the Heart- Christian Immigration, 1920-1950s

Little Manila is in the Heart Cover

From the book, Little Manila is in the Heart, Dawn Bohulano Mabalon writes about the importance of religion during the 1920-1950’s. She explains how Catholic and Protestant Churches were important institutions of Filipina/o American ethnic and political traditions. Not only were they a source of religious faith, but also a place for Filipina/os can gather. In her opinion, she believes that religion held communities together. She argues that Filipina/os were not victims of Protestantism or pawns in the power struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism. She believes that these Filipina/os Catholic organizations and Filipino/a American Protestant churches were spaces of spiritual sustenance and emotional support.

When Filipina/os immigrated to Stockton, a majority of them were baptized Roman Catholic because of the Spanish rule. After the American conquests, Catholicism was no longer the mandatory religion. They were free to do what they please, but the Americans encouraged them to be Christian. President William McKinley even told Methodist church leaders that he believed it was his duty to “educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.” (Mabalon, 194). This idea that Christianizing the Filipino reminds me of class when we were talking about how Americans believed the Native Americans were uncivilized because they were not Christian. The idea that being Christian is being civilized was also still prevalent during this time for Filipino Americans. Because of the Protestant’s enticing message, some early immigrants converted to Protestant denominations and Filipino ministers and white Protestant missionaries in Stockton turned their attention to the wave of Filipina/o immigrants. Their goals were to save Filipina/o souls and to make Filipina/o immigrants into good Americans. There were four Protestant institutions that were important parts of the Protestant missionaries, the Lighthouse Mission, the House of Friendship, Filipino Christian Fellowship, and Filipino Assemblies of the First Born. They were not only important religious areas, but also provided social welfare for destitute Filipina/os. There is a shift from the mostly Catholic Filipina/o community to the Protestant communities because of the idea of parallelism of Americanization to Protestantism and how Protestant churches actually helped the Filipina/o socially. There was no interest from the Catholic clergy and that was their downfall. While the Protestant missionaries were happy to help the Filipinos during the Depression while the Catholic Church ignored their pleas.

During the 1920-1950’s, there is a shift from Catholicism to Protestantism because of the social help that Protestant missionaries while Catholics did nothing to help. The relationship between the Filipina/os and religion was a significant part of their social lives that affected the future of Filipina/o Christians.