Philippine Orthodox Church
The Philippine Orthodox Church is the government approved and registered legal name of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate in the Philippines. Generally, it refers to the officially established Eastern Orthodox presence in the Philippines as a whole. Currently, there are only four Orthodox canonical missions in the Philippines:
- The Philippine Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), under the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
- The Exarchate of the Philippines, under the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission in the Philippines, under the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All of the East.
- The Philippine Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church, under the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Around the beginning of the 20th century, Greek sailors settled in Legazpi, Albay on the island of Luzon. Their descendants now number no more than 10 families, who have kept their Greek surnames and have become distinguished public figures and intellectuals, including serving in the Greek consulate in Manila.
One of the first Orthodox Christian faithful to arrive in the province of Albay was Alexandros Athos Adamopoulos (later anglicised to Alexander A. Adamson), who came to Legaspi City in 1928. Together with his brother and cousin he co-founded Adamson University in 1932, which is now owned by the Vincentian Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church.
During the American colonial regime, some Russian émigrées fleeing the Soviet Union arrived in the Philippines. In 1935, the Russian Orthodox Church established the first Orthodox parish in Manila, and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia appointed Father Mikhail Yerokhin as vicar. The Episcopal Church then permitted Fr. Mikhail to use the north transept of their Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint John for worship. In 1937, the Russian Orthodox Church built the first Orthodox church in the Philippines, dedicated and named after the Iberian Icon of the Mother of God. Both the Episcopal Cathedral and the Russian Orthodox church in Manila were destroyed in 1945 by Allied bombardment during the city's liberation at the end of the Second World War.
In 1949, Archbishop John Maximovitch and 5,500 Russian Orthodox from China were relocated to Tubabao, (now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar) in the Visayas, by the International Refugee Organization, with the permission of the newly-sovereign Republic of the Philippines. Archbishop Maximovitch then established a wooden church, orphanage, and other buildings in Tubabao exclusively for the Russian refugees.
Tubabao, however, was and still a small, underdeveloped island which is humid, prone to typhoons, and atÂ times inaccessible due to the ocean conditions. When a Russian commented that they feared a typhoon would destroy their camp, Filipinos replied that there was nothing to worry about because "your holy man blesses your camp from four directions every night." There were no typhoons or floods while Archbishop Maximovitch was there.
Archbishop Maximovitch did not preach the Orthodox faith to locals, and no Filipino was baptised, chrismated, ordained or consecrated during his stay. Through the persistent lobbying of Archbishop Maximovitch to the United States Congress, the refugees were allowed to settle in the United States and Australia beginning in 1951.
Filipino Orthodox Christians
In 1989, Adamopoulos saw the need to establish the first Greek Orthodox church in the Philippines and thus established the Hellenic Orthodox Foundation, Inc., but he died in 1993 before the church was completed. The Annunication Orthodox Cathedral in Sucat, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, was finished in 1996. Constructed in true Byzantine style and with interior furnishings imported from Greece, it serves hundreds of Filipino Orthodox and Orthodox expatriates in the national capital. The church was consecrated by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on 5 March 2000., with Metropolitans Ioakeim and Nikitas, Bishop Dionysios, and a significant number of clergy from overseas assisting. During the service, the entire congregation followed the Patriarch in circumambulating the church. The Patriarch told the people present that the only thing which can really lead man to the land of gladness is the perfect love for his fellow man and for God. The message from the Church of Constantinople is one of love for the people of Southeast Asia, one which assures people everywhere of the immeasurable love of Christ.
On 20 April 1990, a Filipino hieromonk, Fr. Vincentius Escarcha (a former Benedictine Abbot and a Roman Catholic priest for more than 20 years in Bajada, Cataingan, Masbate), together with four nuns and faithful members of his community, were received into the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Dionysios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Zealand and assisted by Bishop Sotirios of Zelon. On 19 January 1994, Metropolitan Dionysios and Bishop Sotirios received several Filipino Christians in Manila by Holy Chrismation.
In 1996, the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia was created for the needs of the faithful under the Church of Constantinople. In 2004, the Theotokos Orthodox Church in Bajada was consecrated by Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong and South East Asia. As of 2014 the nuns of the Theotokos Orthodox Monastery in Bajada ran a kindergarten.
Within the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, there are currently six (6) active Filipino Orthodox priests in the Philippines (Fr. Vincentius having already retired from active service), along with a couple of nuns, and are now administratively under Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. In these communities, the Divine Liturgy and other Orthodox worship services are held in English, Greek and Filipino.
On February 28, 2008, after three months from its application, Metropolitan Archbishop Paul (Saliba), Primate of Australia and New Zealand of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All of the East, accepted the congregation of the Missionary Servants and Handmaids of St. Francis of Assisi together with Pentecostal Methodist Bishop Jeptah Aniceto, who was also appointed as the Vicar of the Davao Vicariate after his ordination to the Orthodox priesthood.
From May 19 to 22, 2008 Metropolitan Archbishop Paul visited the Philippines for the second time, where he had a colloquium with twelve candidates for ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood in Cogeo, Antipolo City and visited the Antiochian Orthodox communities in Antipolo City (Cogeo Village with 500 members, Bagong Nayon 2 with 500 members, Pagrai with 500 members and Sirona with 500 members), San Jose Del Monte City (Feliciano Subdivision, Brgy. Muzon with 500 members, and Pleasant Hills Subdivision, Brgy. San Manuel with 300 members and Kalookan City (Pangarap Village with 500 members).
Archbishop Paul ordained Pascualito D. Monsanto as the first Antiochian Orthodox priest in the Philippines and elevated him to the rank of Archpriest for the Manila Vicariate.
He also ordained Carlos R. Rafanan, a former SVD priest of the Roman Catholic to the Orthodox priesthood; Carlos G. Cabubas to the diaconate; and Abundio J. Delim, Jr., Michael A. Monsanto, Divino Z. Pedraza to the sub-diaconate. He deferred the ordination of the nine (9) candidates pending completion of the required studies on Orthodoxy.
From May 23 to 26, 2008 Archbishop Paul traveled to Davao City to ordain convert Pentecostal Methodist Bishop Jeptah Aniceto as the third antiochian orthodox priest in the Philippines and elevated him to archpriest for the Davao Vicariate. This priest shortly after ordination left the Orthodox Faith. His followers left the Antiochian Church as well and scattered.
In August 2013 Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, sent Archpriest Seraphim (Bell) and the then Deacon Silouan (Thompson) to help re-establish the Russian Orthodox Church and made the first Divine Liturgy, baptism of catechumens, trained chanters (http://orthodoxnepal.org/2013/09/dn-silouan-training-cantors/) and the blessing of the first ROCOR mission in the Municipality of Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur (http://orthodoxnepal.org/2013/09/feast-of-the-dormition/). The chapel was dedicated to St. John Maximovitch in honor of the first Russian Orthodox saint who lived in the country. Fr. Seraphim then went to Tubabao Island where the Russian Refugees took and camp. Before departing for Tubabao, Fr. Seraphim served Divine Liturgy in Palo, Leyte at the ROCOR mission dedicated to St. Nikolai Velimirovich, another ROCOR mission in the Philippines (http://orthodoxnepal.org/2013/09/divine-liturgy-in-palo/). They performed baptism in Palo to 10 catechumens (http://orthodoxnepal.org/2013/09/holy-baptism-2/), and finally they went to Tubabao Island. On the day of the Feast of the Vladimir icon of the Theotokos, a Divine Liturgy was served in the chapel of the Theotokos on Tubabao Island. The new chapel is located on the site of the previous chapel of the Mother of God, built by the Russian refugees who lived on the island from 1949–51; the same chapel in which St. John Maximovitch concelebrated during his stay there. This was the first Liturgy to be served on the island in 62 years (http://orthodoxnepal.org/2013/09/st-john-maximovitch-and-the-russian-refugee-camp-on-tubabao-island/).
On March 2014, the five province Diocese of Sarangani Province, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Maguindanao Province of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church (also known as Aglipayans) led by their two bishops Esteban Valmera and Rogelio Ringor together with thirteen (13) other Aglipayan clergy petitioned to His Holiness, Patriarch Kiril of Moscow and All Rus' to convert their entire diocese composed of 28 parishes to the Orthodox Church. Inspired by their moves and motives, another Aglipayan group called "Aglipayan Christian Church" under the leadership of their eight bishops and superiors, also write a petition to the Patriarch of Moscow that they also want to convert their entire group and embraced the Orthodox Faith.
The Moscow Patriarchate then reacted and sent Russian Orthodox missionaries to catechize the thousands of people embracing the Orthodox Faith. Among the missionaries who came to the Philippines are Fr. Kiril Chkarboul from Taiwan, Fr. Stanislav Rasputin and Fr. George Maximov from Russia as well as lay missionaries named Alexy (Russian), Timothy (American) and Sergey (Ukrainian). Presently, the Moscow Patriarchate is doing missions to more or less 60 visible parishes in the Philippines, making it instantly the strongest and largest Orthodox jurisdiction in the Philippines.
On September 18, 2014, the Moscow Patriarchate is registered in the government of the Philippines as the Philippine Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). On September 26, 2014, the Philippine Orthodox Church Deanery of St. John the Baptist based in Ladol, Alabel, Sarangani Province was registered and on September 29, 2014, the Philippine Orthodox Church Deanery of the Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary based in Aglipayan Village, Sto. Niño, Tugbok, Davao City was also registered.
There are also some independent groups in the Philippines that use the term Orthodox in their names but are not a part of the Orthodox Church neither in communion with or are recognized by any of the 15 autocephalous canonical Orthodox jurisdictions throughout the world.