Remembering Bishop Gregorio Aglipay

Community News & Features Oct 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm
From left: Fr. Art Calaycay, Fr. Dante Coloma, Fr. Albert Dacera, Bp Jerry Sagun, Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang, Bp Rudy Juliada, Fr. Wilner Dangawen, Fr. Christian Rey

From left: Fr. Art Calaycay, Fr. Dante Coloma, Fr. Albert Dacera, Bp Jerry Sagun, Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang, Bp Rudy Juliada, Fr. Wilner Dangawen, Fr. Christian Rey

On the Pastoral Visit of Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang

Members of the Philippine Independent Church (or Iglesia Filipinia Independiente/IFI) from Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal came together for the first pastoral visit of Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang to the IFI congregations in Canada. The Obispo Maximo officiated in concelebrated masses at the All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church in Toronto on Sept 14 and at the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton Sept 15. Obispo Maximo Timbang came with Bishop Rudy Juliada of the IFI Diocese in Misamis, Bishop Jerry Sagun of Cagayan Valley and Isabela, and Rev Fr Albert Dacera of Manila, all of whom had attended a conference of the IFI Council of Bishops in Chicago the previous week. They were also joined by Fr. Dante Coloma from the GTA, Christian Rey from Hamilton and Niagara, Art Calaycay from Montreal and Wilner Dangawen of the Episcopal Church in the GTA.

The visit was considered timely as the IFI was also commemorating the life and ministry of Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, the first Obispo Maximo and one of the founding leaders of the Church, whom Supreme Bishop Timbang described as a “fearless revolutionary … illustrious statesman and church leader. … we are one with him in pursuing the aspirations of the Filipino people, and in walking through the ways of service and servant-hood … especially (for) those who are poor, vulnerable and marginalized.” Bishop Timbang exhorted the congregation to stay solidly grounded on Aglipay’s vision, ideals and dream for the IFI … to become a vehicle for the renewal of the church in the Philippines as it pursues its mission and ministry.” The IFI was established as an anti-colonial church with mainly the working people as its followers based in the Union Obrero Democratico Filipino (UODF). It fought along with the Filipino revolutionary forces against the Spanish colonizers and then the US invaders.

Bp Timbang talks about destruction and plunder by foreign mining corporations

Bp Timbang talks about destruction and plunder by foreign mining corporations

In his sermon at the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton, the Obispo Maximo said, “Despite the risk of being red-tagged, of being arrested and charged with trumped-up cases, of being hunted as targets for extrajudicial killings, of being repressed as individual church people and church as a whole, the mission has to really be pursued.” He said the church faces current challenges in the form of the “deep-seated socio-political and economic systems in our country and the current onerous and dehumanizing policies of the present government that normalizes extra-judicial killings, promotes impunity, institutionalizes violence and instills the reign of terror and tyranny.”

Therefore he declared everyone needs to respond to the calls “to defend the sanctity of life and the rights and honor of every person and community; to uphold truth and liberty amidst efforts to deceive and control people through the use of fakery and lies; to protect democracy from being destroyed by authoritarianism and tyranny; to defend national sovereignty from the incursion of foreign powers as government leaders surrender our territory and patrimony; to promote the well-being of every human life and the integrity of creation from being abused and exploited by local ruling elites and by foreign capitalists and multinational corporations.”

He concluded “Our past leaders and fore-parents in the IFI did their part in ensuring that the red flag of mission is held up high for 117 years; we in our time today are also called to do our share.”

Not a few members and leaders of the IFI have been martyred in the past. Killed in June 2010 was Benjamin Bayles, lay minister in the Diocese of Negros Occidental who was active in the National Federation of Sugar Workers, and also a member of Bayan Muna Partylist. He earned the ire of the military who tagged him as a member of the New People’s Army. Summarily executed also in June 2010 was Jovelito Agustin, lay minister in the Parish of Saint Andrew the Apostle in the Diocese of Laoag in the Ilocos region — a pro-labor commentator who used his radio program to help victims of illegal recruitment in the province.

They shared the same fate as IFI priests Fr Jerry Aquino (murdered by the Marcos dictatorship in 1981), Fr Narciso Pico (human rights defender in Abra, killed in 1991), Fr William Tadena (killed in Tarlac 2015), and Bishop Alberto Ramento (murdered in his home in Tarlac 2006). All of them remained true to the cause that Gregorio Aglipay stood for, to the patriotic and revolutionary tradition of their church, and dedicated their lives to the struggle for genuine freedom and people’s democracy.

(PRESS RELEASE)

 

Toronto congregation with Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang

Toronto congregation with Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang

 

Members of Migrante Ontario, Bayan, ICHRP-Toronto and friends with Bp Sagun, Fr. Dacera and Bp Timbang

Members of Migrante Ontario, Bayan, ICHRP-Toronto and friends with Bp Sagun, Fr. Dacera and Bp Timbang