A royal decree dated 12 May 1579 ordered the construction of a church in Manila, the first ever church in the Philippines (to be followed by dozens). The governor general in Manila “raised the money from the natives.” (La Casa de Dios, the Legacy of Hispanic Churches in the Philippines, by Fr. Rene B. Javellana, S.J.)
Wait, what? So the natives paid for the church? And all the subsequent dozens of churches around the Philippines? But weren’t they — poor? Not to mention, they weren’t even Catholic?
The first Bishop of Manila, Domingo Salazar, arrived in the Philippines over two years later, in September 1581. When Salazar’s ship set out from Spain, it had carried 30 Dominicans and members of the secular clergy. By the time his ship landed, on the coast of Bicol, 29 of the Dominicans had died, mostly from disease.
Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.