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Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente

The Historical Journey


Kristine Conde-Bebis

The history of our country has revealed to us how the young generation became the
forerunners of the revolution for Philippine Independence. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente
(IFI), being a part of this revolution, may have produced some young leaders who have taken
important roles in the continuous struggle to achieve the one true “kalayaan at pagsasarili.”
Though no documents up to date have proven the youth’s direct participation in the
formation and development of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, it is still possible to assume that
these young people of yesterday have contributed a part of himself/herself (idealism, passion,
and abilities) for the realization of the Filipino church.

Rise of the Youth: the Struggle to establish it’s own Identity


We already know that the youth have always been a member of the church. These young
and vibrant members were already inside of our churches since the church itself has been
founded. But being young, the church had seen them as mere regular church goers only. The
church has never thought of engaging the young people in her own life and affairs. This was how
the church acted towards the youth until these young people themselves have started to assert
their capabilities to take roles in the development of the church.
The establishment of the Filipino Catholic Youth Organization (FCYO) in the late
1950s gave the first impression of the youth’s desire to become more involved in the church and
to her ministry. The Chaplain of the University of the Philippines-Diliman Campus called on the
young people to discuss the possible creation of a “united movement” within the IFI youth. Only
a few have responded, but it should be noted that those who have answered to the call proved
that there is really such a need to identify one, united, youth movement within the church.
The pioneers of the FCYO continued to discuss the idea of this united movement, which
was well-received by the Obispo Maximo. A call was again made to local presidents of existing
youth organizations in Metro Manila and suburb parishes. Those who responded were grom the
parishes of Maria Clara, Metrica, Malabon, Paco, and Pandacan. They met at the Central Office
at Alfredo Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila and formed a united group called the Philippine
Independent Church District Youth Movement (PICDYM). This new group, which was
directly under the Obispo Maximo’s authority, had made regular meetings to further discuss the
realization of their objectives as a youth organization. They were able to get the approval of the
Obispo Maximo to appoint among themselves “Promotional Youth Workers” and to make Revd.
Fr. Porfirio dela Cruz, their adviser.
The PICDYM began to educate themselves with the faith and ministry of the IFI. Several
seminars and symposiums were conducted to discuss church’s history, the IFI’s faith and
mission, and the youth’s role in IFI. These were all done to further equip the young people to an
effective service to God and his people. Their enthusiasm to be of great service to the church has
inspired other dioceses to establish their own youth organizations. Then Revd. Fr. Soliman Gano
had expressed his wanting to have a similar organization in his diocese. Moreover, he was the
first to propose the transformation of the PICDYM into a recognized national organization of
IFI.
In 1960, the youth members of the church in Southern Luzon met in the Maria Clara
Church in Manila. The young leaders from Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and
PICDYM (representing Manila and the suburbs) had convened to consolidate the youth
organizations and become a unified regional youth organization. The consolidation was then
baptized as the Philippine Independent Church Regional Youth Movement (PICRYM). A
constitution was drafted and was approved by the general assembly. The regional youth
leadership was formally elected in March 27 of the same year, with Atty. Reynaldo Beltran as
the president. Later on, the provincial youth organizations of Bicol and Pampanga joined the
PICRYM.
Also in the 1960s, Revd. Fr. Eustaquio Coronado, the Chaplain assigned to the UP
Diliman Campus worked hard to establish a Student Work Program inside the University. This
was in accordance to the Student Ministry Program conceived through the Philippine
Independent Church-Philippine Episcopal Church Joint Council in 1961. His best efforts
eventually gave birth to the University of the Philippines-Philippine Independent Church
Student Association (UPPICSA). The IFI Parish of the Holy Sacrifice became the home of the
organization, where they conducted their regular meetings and activities.

2
With the establishment of the UPPICSA, the youth within the church had gone through
significant transformations. The UPPICSA led the call to for the church and more importantly,
the youth, to rekindle the nationalist heritage and tradition of Iglesia Filipina Independiente. This
transformed the youth organization to a higher degree of commitment and involvement in the
church and society. They facilitated the venue to stir our youth in rediscovering the “beauty and
value” of our church history and teachings in the context of the socio-political and economic
conditions of the Philippine Society.1 The UPPICSA even challenged our church leaders to
clearly define their roles in developing the church to a progressive ministry.
In 1968, Ms. Carmencita Karagdag and Mr. Fructuoso Sabug jr. of the UPPICSA
represented the IFI youth in the World Council of Churches Youth Assembly in Uppsala,
Sweden. This gathering became a venue for the youth to engage in the ecumenical youth
movement in the country.

National Youth Movement: Embracing the Nationalist Heritage and Tradition of the IFI
The year was 1969 when Obispo Maximo Isabelo delos Reyes Jr. called for a National
Youth Assembly at Roosevelt Memorial College in Sto. Niño, Marikina, Rizal. This was his
response to the continuous appeal of the youth to be acknowledged by the church and be heard in
her decision making processes. This gathering also became the venue to discuss the current
political and economic situation prevalent in the country.
Attended by youth delegates from all around the country, this assembly convened to form
the Kilusang Pambansa ng Kabataan ng Iglesia Filipina Independiente (KPK-IFI) or the
National Youth Movement of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (NYM-IFI). Ms. Carmencita
Karagdag was elected as its first Chairman.
The KPK-IFI became more active in church-based activities that will develop their faith
and recapture the true ministry of IFI – to serve God through his people. Series of educational
seminars were held so that the youth can establish a common understanding about the current
national crisis and to come-up with a recommendation as to how the IFI Youth should face the
challenges created by these crises. The KPK-IFI was instrumental in challenging the well-
entrenched conservatism and reactionary tendencies of our church leaders. The youth
organization demanded reforms within the Church and appealed for the restoration of the
1
Excerpt from “The Youth: Embracing and Upholding our Rich Historical Mission” by Lesley G. Capus, undated
manuscript.

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genuine teachings of the IFI history.2 This dramatic transformation of the youth organization was
also an offshoot the rampant student and youth activism in the country. This new progressive
and militant ministry of the KPK-IFI made it a part of the historic First Quarter Storm (FQS).
When the Rt. Revd. Macario v. Ga was elected as the new Obispo Maximo in 1973, he
promised to attend to the concerns of the youth in the church affairs. The following year, the
Supreme Council of Bishops passed a resolution urging all diocesan bishops and parish priests
to develop youth programs in their respective jurisdictions. The SCB also created the Office of
the National Youth Coordinator and appointed Revd. Fr. Eustaquio D. Coronado as its Youth
Coordinator.
On April 21-24, 1796, a National Youth Consultation took place at the St. Andrew’s
Seminary in Quezon City. In this gathering, the youth have expressed the need to restructure the
National Youth Organization and adopt a National Constitution and By-Laws.3 This consultation
also became a venue for the youth to; again, articulate their wish to be recognized by the church
as a new sector to allow them to have direct participation in the life, work, and struggle of the
IFI.
A year after, the National Youth Assembly was held at the IFI Parish of Our Lady of
peace and Good Voyage in La Paz, Iloilo City. On April 15, the Constitution and By-Laws of the
National Youth Movement was ratified. The youth had also convened to elect Mr. Fructuoso
Sabug Jr. of Antique as the NYM’s president/.
In 1977, during the IFI’s General Assembly, the youth successfully campaigned for the
church’s recognition of the youth sector that will enable them to be more involved in the life of
the church. This is through enfranchising the youth sector in the church’s organizational
structure from all levels.4 This victory was realized in the ratification of the IFI Constitution and
Canons of 1977.
The National Youth Movement changed its name to National Youth Organization
(NYO) at Kaliraya, Quezon during the National Youth Assembly in 1981. From then on, the
NYO have conducted youth camps, leadership trainings and formations, exposure and exchange
programs; and had ecumenical involvements. Its members also participated in issue-based
campaigns and mobilizations in and out of the church.5
2
ibid.
3
ibid.
4
The Brief History of the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Orientation Paper of the YIFI, undated.
5
op. cit.

4
Years after, the NYO almost ceased to fulfill its organizational functions. Up to this date,
it was unclear how the youth organization became inactive in the affairs of the IFI.

Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente: Revolutionizing the Church through Renewed


Spirituality and Service
The youth started to renew its involvement in the church in mid-1990s. A National Youth
General Assembly was held at the IFI Parish of Our Lady of Maulawin in Sta. Cruz, Laguna in
1996. In this assembly, a new set of fresh and committed young leaders were chosen to take the
task of reviving the youth involvement in the church.
In 1999, the 11th National Youth Convention was held in Gasan, Marinduque. The youth
participants in this assembly were united in adopting a comprehensive amendment in the
organization’s Constitution and By-Laws. This amendment includes ratifying the organization’s
change of name, from the NYO to the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (YIFI). As a
new name was welcomed by the youth; a new logo and identity, a new organizational structure,
and a new set of leaders were also introduced and was well-received. That gathering was
remembered as the gathering of young people burning with great enthusiasm to revive the legacy
of the forebearers of the youth organization in recapturing the faith and tradition of the church.
The organization immediately responded to the call of the mother church to assist in the
preparations for the 100th year celebration of her service to God through his people. In 2002, the
youth have actively participated in the celebration of the IFI’s centennial year of proclamation.
The young people, hailed from different dioceses, performed songs, dances, and theatrical plays
to commemorate the IFI’s journey to fulfill its ministry with the people’s struggle.
In the National Youth Assembly happened in the same year of the Centennial celebration,
several youth leaders gathered in fellowship and re-affirmed the covenant to God by serving the
people thru the IFI. The new set of elected leaders vowed for a “renewed vigor” in living-out
her heritage, pursue her historical mission, ministry, and struggle towards the establishment of
Shalom, for God and country.6
The youth organization began to re-assess its role in upholding the IFI ministry in
emancipating the masses from the injustices of our society. The call to serve the people was
responded with fervor in the 2005 National Youth Convention at Balaoang, Paniqui, Tarlac.

6
YIFI Orientation Paper, undated.

5
Through this gathering, the youth have vowed to follow the path that Christ have taken—to
serve and not to be served—which will also guide and inspire them to be always of service to
others, especially those who are in need.
These young people became involved in renewing the faith of the IFI members,
especially the young people, through extensive study sessions about the history, mission, and
ministry of the church. The youth were also engaged in peace-building activities, encouraging
every Christian to become a “peacemaker.”
These young vibrant people also made a landmark as many young leaders take part in the
held National Lay Congress in 2006 at Batac, Ilocos Norte. In this affair, the youth have voiced
out their views and concerns regarding the current development of the church and the
strengthening of the lay participation in church works. Before the end of the said congress, the
youth had already made an impression that in their hands, the future of the church will never be
compromised. Days after, the YIFI achieved another milestone with the success of the National
Youth Leader’s Assembly in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. This assembly tackled the struggle of the
youth in the church and the importance of building student ministries in colleges and
universities. Aside from the youth programs inside the church, the YIFI also participated actively
in the ecumenical youth movement in the country. The YIFI organized the National Peace Camp
in October 2007, together with other youth organizations of different ecumenical churches in the
country. This event was held to make a venue for discussions regarding issues on the
achievement of peace in the country and the role of the youth for the realization of this goal,
The YIFI also took active participation in the development of our local churches. They
have started to assert their place in the local church and acknowledged the importance of taking
their role in empowering the local church.
In its effort to further consolidate the ranks of IFI’s next generation of leaders, the YIFI
have utilized systematic educational processes to better understand how to bring to the core of
the people’s struggle the warm solidarity and committed service of the youth.7

The Youth at 40: Challenging Themselves to Continuously Serve God through his People
Now at its ruby year, the youth are geared towards strengthening their commitment for
the realization of the IFI mission—to be of service “Pro Deo et Patria!” The youth have been

7
ibid.

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through 40 years of struggle to face every challenge in upholding our prophetic mission. We may
have our fair share of ups and downs, of victories and disappointments, or of success and
failures. But it is clear that these young people of Iglesia Filipina Independiente will always be in
the forefront to challenge the church and themselves in rekindling our nationalistic heritage and
tradition.
The YIFI will always be hand-in-hand with the ordained, the laymen, and the women for
the realization of the one true “kalayaan, kasarinlan, at kaginhawaan,”—the main reason why
the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was founded.