Letter to King Philip IV from the Bishop of Cebu, 1635.
( Evidence of the early beginnings of Zamboanga City )
Although my age is now so advanced, and I was very contented in my bishopric of the city of Santissimo Nombre de Jesus (which is commonly called Cebú), I was forced to leave my quiet because of the death of the archbishop of Manila, Don Fray Garcia Serrano, which happened more than six years ago, in order to come to govern this archbishopric of Manila during the period of its vacancy, as such was ordered by his Holiness Paul V, in a bull which he gave at the petition of your Majesty's father (whom may holy Paradise keep!), providing that the senior bishop of Philipinas should come to govern the church at Manila for three vacancies in this metropolitan see. Thus the lot fell to me to come; and the urgency with which the governor and the Audiencia begged me to come gave me no room for excuses, or to represent my indispositions and advanced age.During the time while I have been in this government, there has been great peace and harmony between the ecclesiastical and civil powers; and we have always endeavored to promote the cause of our Lord and the service of your Majesty, as we all are bound to do. I have not left the government until now, when the bulls of this archbishopric came for Don Fray Hernando Guerrero; for, although he had a decree from your Majesty, the bulls, as I say, had not arrived, and I was governing by a bull of his Holiness, with a decree from your Majesty. Having consulted in regard to it with erudite men, theologians and jurists, as to whether I could give up the government of the archbishopric to Don Fray Hernando Guerrero, all counseled me in the negative, and charged my conscience.
Finally, the Lord has been pleased to relieve me of that charge, and to leave me the old responsibility of my own failures; and, accordingly, I am returning thither with much pleasure and happiness, to finish my days among my people (the Cebuanos), aiding them in whatever I can; for they have suffered considerably during these years from the enemy from Mindanao and Jolo, who are very powerful, and who make extensive raids with their fleets—burning villages, firing churches, destroying images, and capturing many Indians. Especially last year did those enemies display themselves most insolently; whereupon Governor Don Juan Cerezo Salamanca was obliged to apply the only remedy which we believed there to be—namely, to construct a fort at Samboanga, in the land of Mindanao, which might serve as a check to both enemies.That fort was commenced when Don Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera arrived to govern these islands. Hearing of the advisability of that work, he determined to forward it, for its benefit is great, and its cost to the royal treasury but slight; and even thus it is hoped that it will be of great advantage in a few years, for those enemies will be obliged to pay tribute to your Majesty—and, in fact, whole villages have already begun to enter your Majesty's obedience. I hope that they will also enter the obedience of our Majesty [i.e., of God]. For that purpose, I have given and entrusted the spiritual affairs of those islands to the fathers of the Society (Jesuits), so that by their excellent method of procedure and their gentleness they may continue to attract and convert the natives, who are very numerous. Already have they set their hands to the labor, although the number of subjects (priests) that they have is few; because those of this order (Jesuits) come but very seldom, and they have much to which to attend, and every day they have more. For I, for only the time during which I governed the archbishopric of Manila, have, in consideration of the welfare of the Indians and the devotion and efficient method of administration which those of the Society preserve among them in all parts, entrusted them with new posts. Both in the island of Negros and in that of Mindoro, besides the old Christians, they have three or four thousand heathen to whom to attend; and they are already baptizing these, in addition, to the said heathen of Mindanao, who number many thousands.
Consequently, I petition your Majesty for two things: one (1.) that your Majesty be pleased to confirm them in the said mission of Mindanao, for the bishops have entrusted it to them alone for many years (as did I also), through expectation of great results in the conversion, by means of the said fathers of the Society of Jesus; the other, (2.) that your Majesty send a goodly reënforcements of the subjects of that order (Jesuits), so that they may attend to everything. I think a good reënforcements would be about forty (40), if most of them are priests, who can immediately begin to instruct.
May our Lord preserve the royal person of your Majesty, as all kingdoms need, and as I, the least of your Majesty's chaplains, beg in my sacrifices and prayers. Manila, October seventeen, one thousand six hundred and thirty-five.
( Webmaster: October 17, 1635 - 4 months after construction began on Fort San José on June 23, 1635 )
Bishop of Santissimo Nombre de Jesus ( Cebu )
Church-State relations in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period: A Sourcebook
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