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History of the Early Church in the Zamboanga Peninsula

(1400-1900)
By
Hermenegildo P. Malcampo, Ed.D.

Introduction

In view of the scarcity of information in the local libraries regarding the early church in the peninsula of Zamboanga from 1500 to 1990, it is the best to gather and publish whatever pertinent information available to be devoted to the works of the missionaries and those of the Jesuits in particular, as one way to give recognition to their missionary zeal. Their personal commitment to spread the Gospel to the wild primitives in the mountains of Zamboanga often met their resistance but this did not deter them from pursuing their mission even at the cost of being enslaved in captivity or undergo the harsh martyrdom of being stabbed to death, or beheaded, or thrown into the river to be eaten by fish. Such is the nature of the early works of the missionaries which today's population deserve to know in order to appreciate. From the first mission in La Caldera (Recodo, today) in the year 1585, these missionaries have not relented in their works of evangelization to bring souls to God even at the price of their own lives.

The history of Zamboanga can not be complete if the contribution of the Society of Jesus is not given due consideration. Missionaries had found their way to La Caldera long before the Spaniards came to establish a garrison in Zamboanga. When the Spaniards finally came, the priests were the indefatigable partners of the conquerors.

Not a few priests lost their lives fighting side by side with the Spanish forces. Many were simply killed in the course of their evangelization works among hostile natives. After a place had been conquered or pacified, it was left to the charge of a priest. He was given complete authority over the natives in his mission. The priest was an engineer. He built the church, opened roads, and introduced irrigation systems when needed.

Following the suppression of the Jesuits in the year 1768, the Recollects were made to continue their works in Zamboanga until their return in 1860.

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