“Learn more about the second largest religious group in the Philippines… the Iglesia Filipina Independiente”
In the Philippines, Iglesia Filipina Independiente is widely known as the “Philippine Independent Catholic Church.” It is a religious group of Christian Protestant in the form of national church and was founded on August 3, 1902. Back in 1902, it was formally separated from the Catholic Church or was proclaimed independent after a conference between members of the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina lead by Isabelo de los Reyes. Allegedly, Spanish priests maltreated the Filipinos which triggered Reyes to initiate the separation. Along with former Catholic priest Gregorio Aglipay, Reyes founded the Philippine Independent Church reforming the Filipino Catholic clergy. Later on, Aglipay became the first Supreme Bishop (Obispo Maximo) and promulgated head of the church.
The denomination, which gained another name “Aglipayan Church“, rejected the traditional norm of the Catholic church and the spiritual leadership of the Pope. They refused to follow the common beliefs of the Catholic Church regarding the Apostolic Succession. The new church laid down and executed different doctrines including extermination of celibacy as requirement to become a priest, acceptance of women ordination, support for contraception and advocacy to promote gay and lesbian civil rights. The church and its members do not also recognized all the canonized saints. There are other beliefs they practiced which directly opposed to the Catholic beliefs.
The Aglipayan Church has more than 39 dioceses and more than 1,000 parishes (and still counting) scattered all over the country. Its 6 millions members continue to grow in the different provinces of the country specifically at the norther parts like Ilocos Region. Comprising approximately 2.6% of the total Philippine population, Aglipayan is considered as the second largest denomination of Christian in the Philippines (behind Roman Catholic with 80.2%).
At the present, majority of the members are known to be activists. They often get involve in different progressive organizations which advocate for democracy, nationalism, extrajudicial killings, anti-imperialism and other activist groups. As of 2013, the incumbent and 12th Supreme Bishop is Ephraim S. Fajutagana.