By Karl Frederick M. Castro
PUBLISHER CONTACT DETAILS
Tina Castro, Head of Editing and Production
Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights
T (63) (02) 426 6001 to 4613
In 1582 Domingo de Salazar, the first bishop of the Philippines, alarmed by reports from Filipinos themselves on the abuses they were suffering at the hands of Spanish officials and soldiers, convoked what has come to be known as the first Synod of Manila. The assembly identified all the different ways Filipinos were being oppressed and determined the cases in which restitution had to be made and how much. All this was set down in a handbook for confessors. The publication of the handbook was delayed, and Salazar’s death in 1594 meant the indefinite suspension of all publication plans. Some ten years later these plans were revived, and annotations were made to the original manuscript. Publication, however, was once again thwarted by a calamity that destroyed almost half the manuscript. Sometime in the middle of the seventeenth century, a clean copy was made of the surviving chapters of the handbook, with the scribes incorporating the early seventeenth-century annotations haphazardly into the main text of the handbook. The present work is an English translation of the clean copy and attempts to disentangle the annotations and to reconstruct the original text itself in some places dubiously copied.The handbook for confessors of the Synod of Manila of 1582 is not only the unintended witness to early Spanish abuses that it describes in appalling detail; it is also a vivid portrait of the Lascacian generation of missionaries who defended native rights and human dignity. It is the only surviving document produced by the assembly that influenced Spanish colonial policy in the Philippines crucially for at least the next two centuries.