The Philippines and Its Global Entanglements: Decentering the Knowledge Production About Religion in Asia
Time & LocationSession 10
Fri 11:00–12:30 Room 1.308
- Giovanni Maltese University of Hamburg
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- “How to Sell Jesus”: Mediatization Perspectives to the Philippine Roman Catholic Church Kerstin Radde-Antweiler Universität Bremen
The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has a wide media ensemble, ranging from classical websites of the dioceses, to different news magazines such as CBCP monitor, CBCP news, Tapat News, Tapat Tabloid, to Tapat TV, TV Maria, Radio Veritas Asia or to newer forms such as Jungle News. Most of them have their own Facebook offshoots. So at first glance, social media seem to have arrived in the world of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines or as one interviewee of the official media organization puts it: “by going into media, because we believe that media is very compassing, it’s the arena of battle in the world today. So, if we can influence people in the work of transformation leading to a NEW kind of (..) Christianity… that could be best, I think.” From his perspective, especially social media can be help for the church to have an active part in society. For example, regarding the relevance and the success of CBCP news via Facebook : “… that partly is because we give people their democracy (…) because they cannot do in in a public space… so they do it there. There, they can do it.” Furthermore, speaking about the future of their media work, he stressed that they “will be shifting to an online church but with church values… we believe it will help so much in SHAPING public opinion.. I mean, you shape public opinion; you shape actually the future… of this country, of these people. You’ll help a lot.”
However, in addition to the role or status of social media within the church, we can observe something else: social media is used as a tool to actively build up the hegemonic statues of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. In contrast to that, the aim of the media organization by El-Shaddai shows a different use, intention and understanding of media. El-Shaddai is using media primarily to “spread the word of Brother Mike” to their people who could not attend the service. They show – especially in contrast to the more word-focused work of the official CBCP media organization – a more sophisticated use of social media, for example by working with audio and video files by transferring whole rituals such as prayers, services etc. on social media. However, they are using social media strictly as a transmission of a fixed media content, which is produced and restricted by the inner group of Brother Mike. Content of the produced media is limited to religious topics and does not include explicit references to societal topics as we have seen in the CBCP media organization. So, the question arises how different Roman Catholic media organizations produces as well as reproduces religious authority – and in line with that, a hegemonic narrative of Roman Catholicism – in the Philippines?
- Space and Power: Religious Worlding and the Rise of Iglesia Ni Cristo Jayeel Cornelio Ateneo de Manila University
This presentation advances the concept of religious worlding as a way to approach religious change in the Philippines. Its interest lies in the involvement of religious groups in the process of urbanization. Specifically, it focuses on the fortunes of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), one of the fastest-growing indigenous churches in the world today. To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014, INC inaugurated Ciudad de Victoria. The complex, fully owned by INC’s New Era University, is home to the Philippine Arena, the Philippine Sports Stadium, a botanical attraction called The Garden, and some local industries. Construction is underway too for residences, an hospital, and the new campus of New Era University.
Located in Bulacan (north of Metro Manila), Ciudad de Victoria is unprecedented as far as any other religion in the Philippines is concerned. The centerpiece of the entire complex is the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor stadium with a seating capacity of 55,000. Its enormity is not the only reason it has drawn the “world’s attention to the Philippines”. Its construction was made possible by a consortium of global and local developers, architects, and landscape designers, including Populous, among the world’s biggest architecture firms. Today, Philippine Arena is not just a place of worship for INC. It has hosted international celebrities and sporting events, and is even slated to be the site of the opening of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
As the rest of this presentation will show, INC’s architectural developments are not only about accommodating their many members during the church’s special gatherings. It is in this manner that I am advancing my initial work on religious worlding to reflect on power. From the name itself to the process involved in constructing the entire complex, Ciudad de Victoria asserts power in a two-fold manner. One, it presents INC as a world religion. Two, it centers the Philippines as a site of world Christianity. But this is not inclusive inasmuch as the space might be open for the use of non-members. At a closer look, this two-fold assertion of power echoes the theological narrative of INC as the one, true church in the last days, which is to arise in the Far East. This empirical attention on INC’s architectural developments advances much of the prevailing discussion about the religious group that is too often focused on their controversies, political involvements, or how different they are from mainstream Christianity.
- Transnational Filipinos and Gendered Time Lags: Age-Related Notions of Gender Among Catholic Filipinos in Copenhagen, Denmark Astrid Krabbe Trolle University of Copenhagen
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have supplied the Philippines with religious and economic remittances for several decades, expanding the social and religious boundaries of Philippine nationhood to countries such as Denmark. This presentation zooms in on the Catholic OFWs located in Copenhagen and their gendered profile. I discuss how the transnational Filipinos perform notions of gender tied to different age-related positions in their Catholic environments. My analysis rests on three cases of performed gender; 1) notions of gender related to Filipina migrants in the Danish secular public, 2) embodied gender in the Filipino Catholic congregations in Copenhagen, 3) gender expectations tied to age and time among Filipinas in a particular Catholic parish. I analyse these three case studies through the concept of gendered time lags in the Filipino diaspora, arguing that different generations of Filipinos apply gender through acts of repetitive recognition of time and life cycle within the Catholic tradition. The Filipino diaspora in Denmark has two distinct social profiles; the permanent residents and the temporary au pairs on a two-year residence permit. These two profiles convey shifting gender identities related to time and tradition. The presentation aims to uncover how gender and transnational religious activities inform each other by placing both in a time-related scheme of life-cycle trajectories for the OFWs.
The Philippines – colloquially dubbed “Asian’s only Christian nation” – has always been a site of diverse religious encounters: between indigenous religions, Islam, Iberian and American Catholicism, Protestantism, indigenous Christian and non-Christian traditions, as well as various Charismatic movements. At the same time, it has been a marginal space, at the geographical margin of Asia and the intellectual margins of scholarship on religion in Southeast Asia and the study of Christianity and Islam. The panel brings together innovative papers on religion in the Philippines, arguing that the country is a promising field for both, the interdisciplinary study of religion in general and the study of religions (i.e. specific religious movements). Discussing Muslim, Christian and Spiritist movements in past and present with a special focus on their emergence as a product of global entanglements, rather than as a peripheral phenomenon or as an export-product from the so-called West or the Middle East, it will contribute to decenter the current knowledge production on religion in Asia.