Liberation Theology in the Philippines: Faith in a Revolution

Liberation Theology in the Philippines: Faith in a Revolution

Liberation Theology in the Philippines: Faith in a Revolution

Liberation Theology in the Philippines: Faith in a Revolution

Excerpt

These chapters give attention to understanding the secular basis for grassroots activism as embodied in Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) and the emergence of alternative models of association, political and economic practice, in a country that is experiencing a precarious process of democratization. The BECs are the context out of which emerged Liberation Theology, called Theology of Struggle in the Philippines. Also known as Basic Christian Communities, BECs are organized by nationalist intellectuals and Christian activists seeking to develop a post-capitalist society based on sustainable production modes and new social relationships. BECs with their multilevel focus on issues of class, gender, culture, and ecology provide a more sustainable development model for improving the social and economic conditions of the poor than Western-focused, top-down and local elite-initiated models. Many BECs in Cebu are attempting to develop self-reliant and ecologically sustainable neighborhoods for themselves. Organizers and participants in these communities develop and adapt their skills and ideas on the basis of newer experiences. Using creative, non-dogmatic, Marxist social analytical techniques, they trace their history back to the earliest resistance movements against the Spanish and late American colonization of the Philippines, and to the time of Jesus Christ and the early church that stood defiantly against social injustices.

The site of these chapters is broadly the Philippines—in particular, the island of Cebu where I conducted fieldwork on the ecclesial community movement from January 1993 to May 1994. I made use of historical documents and materials housed at the University of San Carlos library, observed BEC activities, and interviewed officials, community organizers, and active members of the communities in which I was involved. Part I of this book opens with two chapters on how colonialism and postcolonialism in their historic and synchronic conjunctions have generated a long revolutionary tradition in the Philippines to give a deeper understanding of the material and social conditions to which BECs are responding. Part II addresses some of the most important and . . .

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