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Gregorio Aglipay

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Gregorio Labayan Aglipay (May 8, 1860 – September 1, 1940) was the first Filipino Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church.

Early life

Born in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Aglipay was an orphan who grew up in the tobacco fields in the last volatile decades of the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. He bore deep grievances against the colonial government, stemming from abuses within the agricultural system and the radical ecclesiastical reforms he championed.

Arrested at fourteen for not meeting his tobacco quota, he later moved to Manila to study law at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and at the University of Santo Tomas. After obtaining his degree, he then entered the seminary in Ilocos Sur in 1883 and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood seven years later. He began a career as an assistant priest in various parishes around Luzon.

In spite of being a Catholic priest, Aglipay, like other Filipino revolutionaries, joined the Freemasons.

Establishment of the Filipino Catholic Church

In 1898, the Katipunan was led by two leaders, Andrés Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda asked Aglipay to confront the revolutionary leaders, offering them a level of autonomy for the Philippines if they would end the rebellion. Aguinaldo, in turn, sent Colonel Luciano San Miguel to Aglipay with the intention of getting him to join the rebellion. In the course of Aglipay's journey north, the Philippine-American War started. When Aglipay returned to Manila and discovered that the Americans had attacked, he joined the revolution. On October 20, 1898 he was appointed Military Vicar General of the revolutionaries. The next day, Aglipay sent a letter to various clergy asking them to ask the Pope to appoint Filipinos in all local church positions. On May 5th, 1899, Archbishop Bernardino V. Nozaleda excommunicated Aglipay from the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1902, with the Philippines now a territory of the United States, Isabelo de los Reyes was working towards the formation of a Filipino national church, and on August 3rd, he suggested that a Church independent of Rome with Aglipay as its Supreme Bishop be established. Aglipay, a devout Catholic at the time, initially did not accept.

He was approached by Jesuit priests, Francisco Foradada and Joaquin Villalonga. They attempted to get him to sign a document swearing his allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Aglipay said he would sign it if the Church would continue to work towards appointing more Filipino priests. Foradada asked him why he wanted more Filipino priests so badly, as he felt they were inefficient and vicious; this statement offended Aglipay (some reports say that he punched Foranda afterwards). At any rate, he severed his ties with the Roman Catholic Church, and accepted de los Reyes' offer.

On January 18, 1903, Aglipay was appointed Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church by the bishops of Manila, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Cagayan, Pangasinan, and Abra.

Later life

Aglipay ran for the presidency of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, but lost to Manuel L. Quezon. He married D. Pilar Jamias y Ver in 1939 (the new church permits married clergy), but Aglipay died the following year on September 1, 1940.


  • Halili, Christine N. (2004) Philippine History pp 192-193
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Gregorio Aglipay. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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