(originally made as episode for TSEKPoint, the video commentary program of 100% KATOLIKONG PINOY! now made as a blog version)
This October, we celebrate the Month of the Most Holy Rosary, and there’s no other celebration that could parallel the way the Dominicans honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every second week of October, the Order of Preachers, as well as the throngs of people who have a very special attachment to Mary (besides, we were called as the "a people who loved Mary"--"pueblo amante de Maria") because it is the Blessed Mother who interceded to the Child in her arms to preserve the Pearl of the Orient from Calvinist desacration.
1645 was the year. The Philippines was in total chaos. Revolts were sporadic in the Islands; two earthquakes reduced Manila to ruins; and its Archbishop-elect, Fernando Montero de Espinosa, died before he even took possession of his cathedral. And to make the situation worse, the Dutch are prowling the Philippine shores, desperate to capture poorly-armed Spanish galleons, kick the Spanish regime out of the Philippines, and spread the Protestantism of Calvin. In short, with all these ominous events, the Dutch were resolved that this weak state of the Spanish government in the Philippines is enough to decapitate its rule and incorporate the islands with Formosa (now Taiwan) and Indonesia, both of which were Dutch colonies. It was do or die. If the Spaniards and Filipinos lose, the Philippines will cease to exist.
The Dutch had more or less 15 battleships, divided into three squadrons. The only defense the Spanish-Filipino forces had were two (and later three) galleons, a galley, and a few brigantines (all of them refitted for war). Aside from these makeshift warships, The crew of the Encarnacion (the flagship), the Rosario (the admiral ship), as well as the other warships had weapons and torches on one hand, and rosaries on the other. This only shows that their greatest arsenals were prayers and their devotion to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
The first battle was fought on March 15 the next year with the two Spanish-Filipino galleons facing five Dutch battleships—with odds in favor of the latter—off the coast of Corregidor. But their resilience and prayers made the Spanish-Filipino crew draw first blood with minimal damage and zero casualties.
The Encarnacion and the Rosario were then dispatched as escorts to the incoming galleon San Luis. They were then blockaded by seven Dutch warships at Ticao Island for about a month, and was lifted afterwards to sail for Manila. The Spanish galleons, then, chased them to an encounter near Marinduque on the 29th of July. The Dutch waited till nightfall for their fire vessels to be at maximum effectiveness. The Dutch ships encircled the Encarnacion, desparate to capture or destroy the Spanish flagship. They were then fired upon by the Rosario from behind, doing much damage to the enemy squadron. The fire ships then closed in on the two-ship Spanish fleet, hoping to set them on fire, but to no avail. They were heavily bombarded and capsized. The battle lasted till dawn the next day, resulting to a Dutch rout. Again, another victory for the Spanish-Filipino forces with two injuries, but with no deaths, as General Lorenzo de Orella y Ugalde prayed through the intercession of the Virgin before the battle. This was supposed to be the bloodiest among the five battles.
Two days later, on July 31, 1646, another battle ensued off the coast of Mindoro, this time, with the Spaniards and Filipinos on the offensive. Still in high morale after the previous fight, they cornered the Dutch ships for battle, surprised on how powerful were the Dutch cannons compared to theirs. Resilient and undismayed, they fired upon the Dutch ships, echoing the famous battlecry: “¡Viva la Virgen!” to the sound of their cannons. After four hours one Dutch vessel sank and the rest retreated. Again, no casualties were made on the side of the Spanish-Filipino crew.
After this, General Orella retired as commander of the fleet, turning it over to Captain Sebastian Lopez, thus making him captain of the Encarnacion, while Agustin de Cepeda replaced him as captain of the Rosario. The crew fulfilled its promise before the battle that if they win, they will march barefoot at the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros. The intermission was important for the Spanish-Filipino fleet to reorganize its crew, do repairs to the ships, and to replenish their supplies. However, they became complacent, believing the Dutch will never again set sail over the Philippine waters. The galleon San Diego was en route to Acapulco when it was harassed by three Dutch ships near Fortune Island. Luckily the poorly-armed ship escaped the trap without an escort and went back to Manila.
The San Diego was hastily remodeled as a battleship and joined the Encarnacion and the Rosario in the campaign. On Sept. 16, 1646, the now three-ship-and-one-galley-strong Spanish-Filipino fleet met the three-ship Dutch squadron at the port of Calavite in Mindoro. At the height of the battle, the Rosario drifted in for the kill—one ship against three. Admiral Cepeda prepared his crew for broadside fire, and the Dutch fled in the crew’s tenacity.
General Sebastian Lopez ordered the fleet to return to Mariveles to await orders from the Governor-General and to do repairs. On October 4, the San Diego was moored in the port, with the Encarnacion guarding it from a distance. The Rosario was again drifted away from the fleet, this time the Dutch, with three ships, have the flagship, the Encarnacion, as their target. General Sebastian ordered to move the ship, and the final battle for existence was about to begin.
With cunning movement and furious bombardment, the Encarnacion singlehandedly inflicted heavy damages to the enemy ships, causing them to flee. When the wind died down, the galley then attacked the Dutch ships, particularly the Dutch flagship. When it was about to be sunk, the wind blew again, allowing the Dutch to escape despite the pursuit of the Encarnacion and the galley. That final battle tolled four deaths aboard the Encarnacion.
General Sebastian Lopez again fulfilled their vow of marching barefoot to the shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary. From that time on, all efforts of the Dutch to capture the Philippines were already in vain.
Celebrations were made in Manila, for their death sentence was lifted. An ecclesiastical committee of the vacant See of Manila then convened to investigate if the said series of battles were to be declared as miracles. And true enough, they were for the following reasons:
First, despite the bitter fighting, only fifteen people from the Spanish-Filipino crew lost their lives;
Second, the Encarnacion and the Rosario were old galleons supposed to be incapable of a long-term campaign, yet they won with unexpected results; and
Finally, the crew prayed the Rosary, and implored the intercession of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, which was also the agent of the victory of the Holy League under John of Austria at the Battle of Lepanto decades ago.
This only shows that for those who pray, prayer is powerful; and if coupled with human efforts, there will be great results.
This was also a sign of determination that the Spaniards will never surrender the faith they practice and preach to the natives. This was a battle for survival—a battle for the existence of the Philippines itself, which Nick Joaquin said:
"Imagine the Philippines as part of Indonesia! That seems incredible today - but it's a might-have-been of our history. There was a time in the 17th century when our fate hung in the balance. Had events gone the other way, THERE MIGHT HAVE NO PHILIPPINES AT ALL.”
The battles were part of the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Dutch and her allies. Their battlefield was extended to the colonies, threatening to conquer and destroy Spanish culture from the Filipinos. If not for this gallant, almost predictable defense, we would be speaking Dutch instead of English, and we will not have this kind of procession. More importantly, if we just sat down and let the Dutch take over the Philippines, we would not have become the predominant Catholic country in Asia, from which we owe our culture to, for we are already indoctrinated by the heresy of Calvin.
A coincidental fact: Spain and the Netherlands faced each other again, this time; in the FIFA World Cup Finals in Johannesburg last 2010. Just as almost 400 years ago, the Spanish emerged victorious against the Dutch and won that year’s championship, their first in football.
Now, another battle is ongoing; though a truce is formally implemented from now until January next year. It is not about territories or indoctrination of heresies, but of ideologies of what life is all about.
It was on October 7, 2010 that Filipinos for Life, and in the partnership of 100% Katolikong Pinoy, launched the Facebook page called “I Oppose the RH Bill”, in response to the all-hell-broke-loose web war made by neo-atheists, freethinkers, and most of the people who associate themselves to the pro-RH crowd, specifically those who question the alleged involvement of the Catholic Church in politics, as Carlos Celdran assumes. We at 100% Katolikong Pinoy plugged the page instantly, since we also experience anti-Church bigotry through statements and trolling, and sometimes, divides the line between loyal Catholics and dissident, nominal Catholics, not to mention anti-Catholic statements about the “doctrine” of contraception.
Ever since the establishment of the lines between those who claimed that the RH Bill was for women’s rights and for those who proclaim that life is sacred and should be left alone, TV debates have already aired, thousands of arguments have already been raised, both houses of Congress take this bill into consideration than other more important legal documents pending for ratification, most especially now that Senator Lito Lapid exposed that the RH Bill’s budget is about 13.7 million Pesos. Imagine that.
This is another battle for existence. But this time, it is not fought with ships or cannons, but with ideologies and arguments. And this time, what hangs in the balance is the destiny of our moral and socio-economical status, as well as the lives we are living and the lives yet to exist.
The belligerents are the pro-life groups, dauntlessly spearheaded by the Catholic Church, and the groups who favor contraception, abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage, and the abuse (or to put it in their point, the exercise) of the freedoms of speech, choice, and expression. Instantly, groups of individuals, as well as large institutions and organizations take their sides, whether in overt or in covert manner, contributing to their consecutive camps.
As far as everyone can see, there seems to be a deadlock between them, if not an uphill advantage of one of them. A deadlock since the pro-RH are supported by celebrities people see, hear, and talk about in the media; while the pro-life camp only have a handful, mostly, the least talked-about (of course Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Tito Sotto are exceptions). But when it comes to things like proof, as well as exposure in charity works specially in times the Filipinos are on their knees, it is the Catholic Church and the pro-life NGO’s (if ever there are; but of course there are) who is the first to respond to the needs of the victims of calamities and the ire of nature in general; the pro-RH camp falls silent in these situations either because they don’t have the capacity to do so, or because they think it is not part of the argument, yet paradoxically, they point out the alleged wealth of the Catholic Church—that they have enough resources to purchase vehicles.
If that is the case, at least the Church uses it for the common good, of course comparing to some anti-Church organizations that have the luxury to produce advertisements about their cause and create full-scale campaigns out of their own pockets.
In 1646, we have defended Manila, dubbed as the Rome by the Pasig by Nick Joaquin, from the Calvinist Dutch. Now, we face much more influential enemies: DEATH and its cohorts. Of course there are people outside the Church who support us in our campaign against this threat to the country's survival; the only problem is that some of them independently fight these monstrosities for their own benefits. We hope that these allies of ours may soon realize that we are fighting the same enemies and that they may agree to join forces to achieve a more decisive victory.
To summarize, we are still facing a battle, in one way or another. But the battle we insist in this episode is not just a personal one, but it is a battle for reputation and respect. The Philippines is considered to be the last impregnable fortress of true Catholicism outside the Vatican. Malta has already succumbed to the legalization of divorce, and many predominantly Catholic countries, even Spain and Italy, have already been secularized as a society. It is up to us, the gallant men and women striving for sanctification, to remain loyal to the teachings of Christ through His Vicar and through His Church and to justify our reputation as the Rome of Asia. For this, we say, the battle for our existence continues.