Religions (Sep 2021)

Understanding Folk Religiosity in the Philippines

  • Juan Rafael G. Macaranas

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 10
p. 800


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This paper argues for the appreciation of Filipino folk religiosity as part of cultivating authentic faith expressions among Filipinos. It presents historical, anthropological, sociocultural, and theological views on significant folk religious groups, traditions, and practices in the Philippines, including but not limited to the millenarian movements and popular Catholic feasts. Despite the varied influences and variegated Philippine culture, folk religiosity among Filipinos can be generalized as a syncretic blending of pre-colonial beliefs with the Catholic faith. As an academic and practicing Catholic, the researcher explores the folk religious elements present in the development of the millenarian movements, the unique faith expressions and influences behind folk Catholic feasts and celebrations, and probes deeper into the meaning of ordinary faith expressions. Coming from his own experiences and insights, he refers to previous scholarly works in discussing how spirituality or reverence to the sacred is inherently embedded in the folk religious ways, how the cultural Filipino traits manifest in the religious practices and vice versa, and how folk spirituality enables the expression of deep cultural and personal Christian faith experience. In conclusion, he maintains that millenarian movements are valid faith expressions that also celebrate independence and Filipino identity; traditional festivals and religious rites are the locals’ unique way of authentically expressing their faith, and; preserving folk religions and folk religiosity among Catholics is beneficial for engendering the growth of the faithful and the development of religion. A clear sense of folk religiosity is elemental in reappropriating religious dogmas and doctrines as the church and the faithful continuously study, dialogue, and fully experience life in the pursuit of approaching authenticity in faith, beliefs, and religions.