Varieties of Religious Experiences of Filipino Catholics in America
Filipinos consider religion to be very important in their lives. Religious symbols, icons, gestures, and traditions are intricately interwoven into everyday Filipino life. Religion, specifically Catholicism, has been the lifeblood of the Philippines since the Spanish missionaries introduced it 400 years ago. It deeply permeates every aspect of Filipino life from the very visible manifestations in the display of Virgin Mary statues in the homes, rosaries hanging on the rearview mirror, and various faith-based gatherings and festivities, to the less visible and internalized belief systems, prayer life, and theology. Even Filipinos who are not practicing any religious faith or those who identify as religiously unaffiliated are still somehow inescapably influenced by religion. Traditions, beliefs, and core values, such as kapwa tao, bahala na, and pakikisama are profoundly intertwined with religion.
Even in the United States, over 7,000 miles away from the Philippines, and even those who are American-born and generations removed from the Philippines, religion and religiosity are still likely to be ingrained in their American lives. In the US, almost 90% of Filipino Americans identify as Christian, although only 65% identify as Catholic. In the current immigration patterns, Filipinos are the second largest source of Catholic immigration, a population that will likely have a significant impact on American Catholicism. However, despite the numbers indicative of noteworthy trends, patterns, and changes, the research and the literature on Filipinos in America, let alone their religiosity, continue to be limited. There are undoubtedly remarkable differences among the generations when it comes to religious attitudes and behaviors. There are probably remarkable differences between immigrants and American-born Filipinos as well. In general, in both America and the Philippines, religious affiliation and churchgoing are dropping dramatically and even the highly religious Filipinos are not immune from such. The question that now presents itself is, with the differences, trends, and shifts, how is the Filipino identity, which is deeply rooted in Catholicism, impacted? With the reliance on religion as a source of spiritual and social capital, what impact does religion have on Filipinos, particularly the new immigrants? With American society increasingly becoming more secular and more individualistic, how will the religious and collectivistic Filipino culture react, adjust, and shape or reshape itself?
This researcher plans to explore and capture the stories and the narratives to further understand what religion means to Filipinos in America today. The numerical data are telling when it comes to Filipinos and religion but what is lacking is a more in-depth understanding of the complexities and the richness of Filipino religiosity. The researcher plans to interview and collect stories, reflections, and essays from a sizable cross-section of Filipino Americans of different backgrounds, circumstances, and settings to deeply understand the varieties of religious experience of Filipinos in America.
Call for Papers, Reflections, Essays, Interviews.
Share what it means to be Catholic and Filipino. Looking for contributors from different backgrounds and perspectives:
Religious leaders, priests, nuns, laypersons, immigrants, native-born, professionals, artists, ex-Catholics, non-Catholics, atheists, parents, millennials, baby boomers, husbands, wives, students, non-Filipino.
Please consider contributing and sharing your story and your reflections. Contact the principal investigator, BJ Gonzalvo for more information.