REMEMBERING THE CALL TO ACTION
DURING THE CENTENARY OF OUR CHURCH
Dear people of God,
On August 3, 2002, in the Centenary of the historic Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), let us be reminded that on August 2, 1902, the Union Obrera Democratica led by Isabelo de los Reyes, Sr. or Don Belong launches a successful general strike to demand for wage increase. In June 1902, the workers in the printing press, sawmill, tailoring, tobacco and cigarette factory, seaport and other manufacturing firms waged several strikes to press for wage increase. These strikes culminated into a general strike.
Because of this general strike, Don Belong was arrested and charged with sedition and rebellion on violation of Article 543 of the Penal Code – “conspiracy to raise the price of labor.” He was released when the laborers sent petition to Governor-General William H. Taft and asserter their basic right to unite and demand for wage increase. In this period, there was a crisis and resistance under the US colonial regime. This was the given situation after a devastating Filipino-American War that started on February 4, 1899.
Today, like in 1902, under a foreign master, the aspiration of the Filipino people for genuine freedom, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and democracy is still our vision to be achieved. That is why Professor Teodoro Agoncillo claimed that “the IFI is the only tangible result of the 1896 Revolution.”
As our country is in a state of chronic crisis and continuing resistance of the people, we are challenged to respond to the call of the people for continuing struggle. Our Church through the years continues to live-out her heritage, as it continues her journey with the people’s struggle. In this Centenary of our Church, we as a Body of Christ, are challenged to hold our ground and stand firm to our patriotic and pro-labor traditions. After all, the proclamation of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was the urgent necessity under a situation of political repression.
We, therefore, call on our people that we will make August 2, 2002 as a Day of Solidarity with the working class. This solidarity will be celebrated as a concrete expression of our statement that says, “The IFI has always been loyal to the cause of her founding forebears in promoting the welfare and dignity of the common man, especially the laborer. She must at all times and in all places, extend her pastoral ministry to workers and laborers with whom she was identified since the beginning. This demands the organization of a social action institution to carry this out.” (Statement on Church Mission, 1976).
We further encourage our local churches to organize a task force or committee who shall prepare for the activities of this day. Meanwhile, we particularly invite you to participate in the indoor rally and protest march on August 2, 2002 at National Cathedral, 1500 Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila. After the indoor rally, we will march towards Quirino grandstand to celebrate with joy and thanksgiving the 100 years of serving God and people.
Very sincerely yours,
(SGD) Most Revd. TOMAS A. MILLAMENA, D.D.
The Centennial Supreme Bishop
25 June 2002