The Philippines is lucky to have had freedom of worship long established as a fundamental right for its people. Its capital Manila has a diversity of faith, and there is a refreshing atmosphere of peace among its many denominations.
As culturally diverse as Manila is, it is also the seat of Roman Catholicism, which is the principal religion in here. Most of Manila’s residents are designated Roman Catholics, largely owing to this being a former Spanish colonial city.
Representatives of different faiths can also be found within the city, such as missionaries and evangelical leaders that have established churches here. Throughout the city are Catholic basilicas, Christian churches, Islamic mosques, Jewish synagogues and even Buddhist temples, all showing the multiplicity of religions in the city and the rest of the republic.
Roman Catholicism in Manila
The city is considered to be the seat of the country’s oldest archdiocese, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, which operates in one of the most imposing basilicas in the city, the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian. Throughout history, Manila has also been used as a base for various Roman Catholic missions.
Religious orders such as Dominicans, Jesuits, Augustinians, and Franciscans all have gone to the country, along with Benedictines, Augustinian Recollects, Vincentian Fathers, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres and the Congregatio of the Immaculati Cordis Mariae.
Because Roman Catholicism has the largest denominational population, Roman Catholic basilicas and cathedrals can be found in almost every corner of the city. Among the most notable and most beautiful religious landmarks are Manila Cathedral, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (more popularly called the Quiapo Church) and Minor Basilica of St Lorenzo Ruiz.
Quiapo Church, for one, holds one of the biggest population of devotees, some even come from different corners of the Philippines. The church also holds one of the most visited major religious events in the country known as the ‘Translacion’ where the image of the Black Nazarene is paraded through the streets of Manila, plowing through millions of devotees.
The city is also home to other impressive Catholic cathedrals, including the San Agustin Church, which is also in Intramuros. The church contains shrine of Nuestra Senora de Consolacion y Correa, which is considered a World Heritage Site. Together with Manila Cathedral, the church is one of the most sought after wedding venues in the city. Malate Church is also notable for holding the country’s oldest Marian image, along with the Nuestra Senora de Guia Shrine and Tondo Church, which hosts an ancient ivory image of the Child Jesus or Sto Nino.
Other Christian denominations
Second to Catholicism, Protestantism is the next most widespread religion in Manila and the rest of the Philippines. Large, ancient Protestant Churches can be found throughout the city, although some of the oldest are elsewhere outside of the city limits.
The end of the Second World War saw the arrival of many Protestant missionaries to the country. Among the many divisions include the Nazarenes, Baptists, Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Pentecostals. Schools and churches were established all throughout the country with many of the main headquarters operating in Manila. Bible Baptist Christians are also represented in the city, along with Evangelical Christians and Mainline Protestants.
Other denominations under the Anglican Communion like Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines are also found within the city. The largest indigenous Christian church in the country and throughout Asia, Iglesia ni Cristo, also have bases in the city. Their places of worship are easily recognised through their tall and pointed spires.