Augustinians have served continuously in the Philippines since the year 1565, and have made a great contribution to the history of that nation.
Augustinians first landed in the Philippines from Mexico. The Augustinian priest and navigator, Andrés de Urdaneta O.S.A. discovered the sailing route for returning from the Philippines to Mexico in 1565.
Andrés de Urdaneta and four other Augustinians landed at Cebú in the Philippines on 27th April 1565.
They at once began a very successful apostolate. The first houses of the Augustinians were established at Cebú in 1565, and at Manila in 1571.
The Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in the Philippines was founded by the Prior General, Tadeo de Perusa O.S.A., on 7th March 1575 and centred on these four Augustinians in the expedition that under Spanish royal patronage had come from Mexico in April 1565.
They had been followed to the Philippines by a regular arrival of additional Augustinians on the Spanish galleons coming from Acapulco, Mexico.
The Province was named after the Most Holy Name of Jesus in honour of the image of the Santo Niño that had been discovered at Cebú in 1565.
These four Augustinians and those that followed them were charged with the evangelisation of the Philippines. One of them, Martin de Rada O.S.A., was the first Provincial, and has also been called the father of evangelisation in the Philippines.
Up to 1578 the Augustinians were the only missionaries in the Islands. By the end of the 16th century they had established some 54 houses in six Islands: Cebu, Panay, Luzon, Mindoro, Masbate, and Leyte. Later, in 1594, some of those houses were handed over to other Orders.
Since then, the Augustinians worked in the evangelization of the Filipinos in Ilocos, La Union, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila and Batangas in Luzon, in Panay Island and Southern Cebu. In the 18th century they began their missionary work among the people of the Mountain Province, Abra and Nueva Ec
After being the first priests to serve in the Philippines, the Augustinians continued to be foremost in making the area Christian. They built hundreds of churches and towns, blending Spanish and local elements of culture into forms characteristically Filipino even to the present times.
Augustinians made an invaluable contribution to the material and cultural progress in the country. They helped revolutionize the cultivation of the agricultural products of the country and introduced from America and Asia; wheat, sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, and various fruits. They directed the building of churches, schools, roads, channels for irrigation and organized the towns.
(Continued on the next page.)