It is known that the study of Filipino Christianity can be focused on several constructions of religious space which include the following four groups: traditional Catholicism, alternative Christian sects on Mount Banahaw in Southern Luzon, a Catholic charismatic group called Couples of Christ and a charismatic group El Shaddai founded by Mike Velarde. Each of these constructions of religious space plays a significant role in the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. The term religious space stands for the place where religious institutions establish their religious practices. The above mentioned constructions of religious spaces help to better understand the spread of Philippine Christianity throughout the archipelago.
Traditional Catholicism defines religious space as “enclosed and geographically bound”¯ (Francisco 186). It took root during the Spanish colonization and was spread through the universal practice of church jurisdiction. Many towns in the Philippines were specially designed to transplant Spanish Catholicism, and resembled the Spanish Catholic settlements. These places include “Intramuros, early settlements such as Tagbilaran, Bohol; and barrios like Talogtog, Manila, or Pulo, Bulacan”¯ and others (Francisco 189). One of the characteristics of traditional Catholicism towns is that churches and government buildings were built side by side with the residences of the political and economic elite.
Alternative sects on Mount Banahaw
Alternative sects on Mount Banahaw in Southern Luzon have been moved away from this enclosed space with the purpose to localize Christianity. They are located 100 kilometers southeast of Manila,”¯ “rising 7380 feet or 2250 meters . . . among a series of mountains,”¯ and “surrounded by cities and towns of Laguna and Quezon provinces”¯ (Francisco 194). The resident religious groups and thousands of pilgrims from all over the Philippines come to the mount on Holy Week. This mountain is known as a sacred site. This construction of religious space is more than “baptizing these natural sites”¯ and can be characterized as the localization of Christianity in the Philippines (Francisco 195).
Catholic charismatic groups
Couples for Christ
Couples for Christ, one of the Catholic charismatic groups has the goal to extend religious space into the household for the renewal of families and the wider world. The group was formed in 1981 and dedicated to the “renewal within the Catholic Church”¯ and “of the whole people of God, irrespective of denomination or Christian affiliation”¯ (Francisco 197).
El Shaddai, another charismatic group founded by Mike Velarde has its unique feature ”“ it incorporates the media into its religious space. El Shaddaiwas founded in 1981 and “grew out of a radio program hosted by Mariano “Mike”¯ Velarde”¯ (Francisco 201). Today there are more than nine million followers of El Shaddai in the world. El Shaddai is a virtual religious space created due to the effective interplay of the media and community.