Saturday, August 18, 2018

Missions And Mentions

THANKS TO FR. RANDY FLORES, SVD of Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay for sharing this special issue of Diwa: Studies in Philosophy and Theology, devoted to Antoon Postma's research "Mangyan Encounters: East and West (1570-1985)". I was looking for Mangyan responses to Jesuit and Augustinian Recollect reduccĂ­on during the 17th century to finish writing the story of Yanihan in "The Giant Clam of Sibale Reef", and given the dearth of information available within these parameters, I was glad to find valuable snippets of accounts in Postma's research. To begin with, the earliest mentions of Mangyans were those by Hernando Riquel (1570), the official scribe of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's voyage to Luzon from Cebu in search of the prosperous trading settlement of Manila, who heard about a group of people that lived in the interior of Mindoro he referred to as "Chichimecos" (after a nomadic Aztec tribe in Mexico), and by Fray Martin de Rada (1577) who was first to mention the term "Manguianes" in a letter.  Fray Juan de Medina (1630) wrote about a group of indios who lived in the mountains that were "whiter than the Tagalos" and who collected an abundant amount of beeswax. "Especially do these Mangyans fear the sea. They don't pay tributo. They are afraid that the Spaniards force them to man their ships." In 1632, the Litterae Annuale (Annual Report of the Jesuits) of the Residentia Nauhana noted the Mangyan attitude that "Money made from gold or silver is looked upon as useless, but they consider it a fortune when they possess knives and pots for cooking their food."

Between 1665-1666, Jesuit Diego Luis de San Vitores (known for his work and martyrdom with Pinoy saint Pedro Calungsod in Guam) led a fairly successful mission in Naujan where he baptized a hundred and twenty or so Mangyans before heading for the Mariana Islands in 1668.  In 1679, seven years after San Vitores' terrific death in the hands of Chamorro leader Matapang, Fray Martin Diaz wrote about the loyalty of the Mangyan converts the priest left behind in Naujan: "I know for a fact that they maintain the chapels of straw that they had built at the initiative of the venerable Father Diego Luis de San Vitores. They repair these chapels, take care of them, clean them, and say that they are waiting for him. When they are told that this priest had died already, they say: "nevertheless, some others, like him, are going to come." None of the accounts about Mangyans, however, is more powerful than these remarks from the 1633 Annual Report of the Residencia de Nauhan, which describe the credibility of Mangyan morals that baffled even the Christians: "They told me that they want to be sure that their children will not end up becoming slaves once they have become Christians. One thing that has given us much consolation, admiration towards these pagans because notwithstanding (the negative aspects), they are a people who are very trustworthy. The Mangyans will never tell a lie. That is why, if you tell the Christians, 'that is what the Mangyan says,' they will answer, even if it is not in their favor, 'well, then it must be the truth.'"

Joris van Spilbergen map of Mindoro (ca. 1619) depicting a Mangyan woman in typical rattan waistwear

Simbahang Bato in Bancuro, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro built by Augustinian Recollects in 1680
Overgrown Fuerte de Bongabong or Kuta Fort built by Augustinian Recollects in the 17th century as defense against Moro raids, Anilao, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro
Fray Diego Luis de San Vitores, evangelist to the Mangyans, 1665-1666

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