Anonymous said: Can you make a post about charismatic Catholicism and Catholic faith healing in the Philippines?
Please bear in mind that I am not an expert on the subject. However, as I’ve had some experience, however marginal, I suppose I could give it a try.
Charismatic Catholicism in the Philippines, like much of the Charismatic movement in the larger Catholic world, gained traction in the 70s and especially the 80s. According to my dad, my paternal grandparents were some of the first to introduce charismatic Catholicism in their province of Batangas. However, I don’t think I’ve ever known them to endorse speaking in tongues, being slain in the Spirit, and a lot of the other “practices” common to Charismatics. Anyway: the most popular Charismatic group in the country is the El Shaddai, which is led by a lay preacher (his official title is “Servant Leader”) called Mike Velarde. He has interests in real estate and his son heads a party list in Congress called “Buhay” which pushes for pro-life advocacy (they won in the last 2 elections).
El Shaddai are known for their massive vigils every Saturday which attract thousands of people. Their women go veiled and wear long skirts typically. About five years ago they inaugurated an “international house of prayer” which can seat as many as 25,000 at any one time and with space for overflow crowds. They claim to attract upwards of 100,000 for bigger occasions, such as Holy Week. El Shaddai submits itself to the local hierarchy for spiritual oversight, but that hasn’t stopped doctrinnaire Catholics from criticising its more… shall we say, prosperity-laden overtones.
A typical El Shaddai meeting starts with Velarde, typically dressed in red blazer and white pants (I know…) preaching about the Good News, which is then followed by the celebration of the Holy Mass.
El Shaddai are a potent political force. They claim influence of up to 7 million Catholics, not just in the Philippines, but also in the massive Filipino diaspora all over the world. There is a feeling amongst many clergy that El Shaddai were influential in stemming the tide of Evangelical Prostestantism in the 70s and 80s, and keeping many Catholics, unmoored and disenchanted by the changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council, in the Church.
On faith healing: there is a certain priest of the Diocese of Lucena, Fr. Joey Faller, who claims the gift of healing. He is a charismatic, and his claim to fame, aside from his purported gifts, is the “Kamay ni Hesus”, (Hand of Jesus), a 5-hectare shrine slash “park” (like a Catholic Disneyland, only infininitely tackier) populated with statues of the Stations of the Cross and the Ascension of Christ on top of a hill. Pilgrims come here on Holy Week and climb a very steep flight of stairs to reach the statue as a form of “panata” or vow, and if the authorities are to be believed, as many as a million people visit the Shrine by Good Friday.
I’ve actually visited the Shrine before, in 2010 if I remember correctly. It was already Easter to there wasn’t as many people. The priest’s story is rather strange and involves some rather melodramatic bits. You may read a bit about Fr. Faller’s ministy here; and I am quite sure there are several Youtube videos about his story as well.
I hope that helps, anon.
I showed a colleague a draft speech I wrote yesterday. “It’s beautiful”, she said. “It’s so good”, she added, “it should be published posthumously.”
Later I found out she was quoting one of our former politicians, who quipped the same to Eisenhower when he was in Manila in 1946.
In other news, a mistake I made four or five years ago woke me up in the middle of the night recently to haunt me. On the one hand, triumph; on the other, irrepresible nightmare.