The Philippine Independent Church, known as the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Spanish, Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas in Ilocano, Malayang Simbahan ng Pilipinas in Tagalog, and Simbahan Hilway nga Pilipinhon in Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon, celebrates its 11th founding anniversary today. It is also known as the Aglipayan Church, after its first Obispo Maximo, Fr. Gregorio L. Aglipay.
Born on May 5, 1860, at the height of the patriotic Filipino struggle for national democracy, the IFI is a Christian denomination in the Catholic tradition in the form of a national church. The Union Obrera Democratica, which was the first labor confederation in the country, publicly proclaimed the IFI on August 3, 1902. Isabelo F. de los Reyes Sr., President of the labor confederation, nominated Fr. Gregorio Aglipay as IFI's first Obispo Maximo (Supreme Bishop).
Fr. Aglipay led the signatories of the Temporary Constitution in October 1, 1902. He led the IFI until 1940, charting the course of the nascent Church in an epoch of strong nationalism. Consequently, the Church espoused a theology that approached religion in a nationalistic and scientific way. The Church expressed in its rituals, music, and worship the enduring aspiration of the Filipinos for national democracy.
Historians recognize the IFI as a milestone in the history of the Filipino libertarian struggle and consider it as one of the most tangible products of the 1898 Revolution. It constitutes the second largest Christian denomination in the Philippines today with around six million members nationwide and with large congregations as well in the United States of America and other parts of Asia.
We congratulate the Iglesia Filipina Independiente headed by its Supreme Head, the Most Reverend Ephraim S. Fajutagana DD, General Secretary, the Right Reverend Joselito T. Cruz, General Treasurer Saturnino C. Garvida, Auditor General Reynaldo R. Evangelista, and its other Officials and flock on the occasion of their 111th Founding Anniversary. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!