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SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: A BALANCING ACT

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: A BALANCING ACT

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SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: A BALANCING ACT

Topic |  
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sundry-thumbby Jes Tirol

Proem

A barrio, town, or city fiesta is celebrated in honor of the Patron Saint of the place.  It is supposed to be a religious activity.  Have ever wondered why there is no Provincial, Regional, or National Fiesta in the Philippines?

I do not know if the Province of Bohol has a Patron Saint.  If there is none, then why is there none?  During Spanish times the Patron Saint for the Visayas Region is the Santo Niño.  If I am not mistaken the National Patron Saint of the Philippines is Saint Joseph (Some says it is Mother Mary.).

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The national Patron Saint of Ireland is St. Patrick.  The whole country of Ireland celebrates a national fiesta known as St. Patrick’s Day.  Why do the Philippines not celebrate a national fiesta?

Spanish Era

During the Spanish era in the Philippines there was no separation between the Church and the State.  In fact the Church was more powerful than the State.  The Spanish Governor General was always afraid of the Archbishop of Manila.

Why? It was because the Governor General will be assigned only for a short term while the Archbishop has a lifetime assignment.  When the Governor General will finish his term he will be audited by the Royal Audiencia in which the Archbishop was a member.  If the Royal Audiencia will say that the Gov.-General has enriched himself while in office, then he will be imprisoned in Spain.

American Era

In the United States of America there is a complete separation between Church and State.  The State could not use public funds to support religious activities.

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Our 1935 Constitution was patterned after the United States Constitution.  It provided that there should be a complete separation between Church and State.

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Our 1971 and 1986 Constitutions also provided for a complete separation between Church and State.  No public funds shall be used to support religious activities.

The Balancing Act

Our Local Government Officials know that it is illegal to use public funds for religious purposes.  But they also know that the people want some activities in order to enliven the fiesta celebration.  In order to ensure their political survival the Local Officials are forced to do a delicate balancing act.

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Roads are repaired in preparation for the fiesta.  However, it is always claimed to be not related to religious activity but purely road maintenance.

The Local Officials will organize basketball tournaments and claim it to be part of sports development.  Beauty pageants are held and claimed to be part of the Tourism activities of the municipality.

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There are myriad of activities that will be organized just to enliven the local fiesta.

Saulog Tagbilaran

Recently the City of Tagbilaran held the activity known as “Saulog Tagbilaran = Celebrate Tagbilaran”.  There were many activities done with the use of public funds.  However, it is claimed to be part of the Tourism Activity of the City.

The most expensive was the Street Dancing Competition.  Each of the fifteen (15) Barangays in the City participated.  The different Barangays from P200 Thousand to P500 Thousand charged to their tourism funds.

Belied By The Speeches

It is officially claimed that the millions of pesos spent for Saulog Tagbilaran was for the promotion of tourism in the City.

However, as I listened to the speeches of the Public Officials, it was always mentioned that the activities were held for the City Fiesta.  The speeches belied the official claim about tourism.  In fact I heard many times the cheer “Viva Señor San Jose”.  San Jose or Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of the Tagbilaran Parish who was honored with a fiesta last May 1, 2015.

I really commiserate with the Public Officials.  They are hard put to do a precarious balancing act because they know that the people expected it.

Culture and Tradition

How to celebrate a fiesta is not part of the curriculum in school.  The practices during fiesta are passed on from one generation to another through the culture and tradition of a community.

Even though the 1935, 1971, and 1986 Philippines Constitutions provided the separation of Church and State, the people still expected the Spanish era type of celebration where the State spends for the fiesta celebration.

I have no complains, I am just stating a fact.  Viva el Patron!

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