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St Augustine : Augustinian parish Mohon, Philippines
Augustinian parish
Mohon, Philippines

Over the centuries, an estimated 3,000 Augustinians were sent to the Philippines. Most of these Augustinians came from Spain, where especially in the beginning the Spanish Augustinian provinces allowed their members to transfer to the missionary Philippines Province if the foreign missions attracted them.

This new Province had initially been unusual in having no seminary of its own for its first 200 years, but had simply relied on volunteers coming to the Philippines from the Spanish Augustinian Provinces.  

Eventually it began directly recruiting young men in Spain on its own behalf, and conducted its own seminary at Valladolid, Spain. It is still functioning.
In this way, and through direct recruitment of Spanish men to Augustinian Order by the Philippines Province, an estimated 2,900 friars went from Spain to the Philippines between 1569 and 1898.
During that time also, the Philippines Province also opened houses in Spain, and these were taken to form a separate El Escorial Province in 1895. Still later, in 1926, a second Province, now popularly called the Espana Province (or the la Vid Province), was sectioned off.
The closing of religious houses in Spain in 1835 did not affect the continued flow of priests to the colonies of Spain.

This was because the formation houses in Spain for the foreign missions were allowed to continue.
In the case of the Order of Saint Augustine, this saved the house (convento) in Valladolid, and later also the one at La Vid.
There apparently is a foundation in history to a report going from the Philippines to Spain to ask that such houses not be molested.

The reason given was that one priest working in the Philippines had the impact of one hundred soldiers in maintaining peace in the country, hence it was in the best interests of Spain not to unsettle the governance of the Philippines by stopping its supply of Spanish priests.
The Order of Saint Augustine had pastoral care of 2,237,000 Filipinos in 1898 at the outset of the revolution that caused havoc for the Church and all religious orders in the Philippines. (Further statistics appear on the previous page.)
By no means, however, did they neglect the formation of indigenous clergy, for there were 700 Philippine secular priests when the revolution broke out in 1896.

Of all the religious orders in the Philippines, the credit for having established the greatest number of parishes goes to the Order of Saint Augustine.
Its mission territory included the present-day provinces of (from north to south) Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra, Nueva Ecija, parts of Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Batangas, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu and Leyte.

Some early missions such as those in Pangasinan, Laguna, Mindoro, Masbate, and Romblon were given across to other religious orders and to secular clergy in the course of time.
As part of evangelization, the Augustinians built churches, parish houses, and schools. Necessity also led them to help in the construction of municipal buildings, watchtowers and fortifications.
They also introduced industries to help their parishioners increase and diversify their source of income. Weaving was adapted for market demands in Ilocos, Batangas and Panay.
Coffee was introduced and propagated in Batangas to such a successful degree that it made it one of the richest Philippine provinces in the nineteenth century.
(Continued on the next page.)

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