Importance of Church and Religion in the Philippines / Nov 2019

It’s present everywhere in the daily life. We see it especially in school. There is a prayer in the beginning and in the end of every lesson which can often take several minutes as every deaf child has its own part to say, which is then repeated by the other kids. Sometimes I even think they spend more time on praying in this one hour of class than on focussed learning. Every morning, before they enter their classroom, they also have prove to their teacher that they know the “our father” by heart, so that they are kept motivated to know it.

Furthermore there is this thing called “bless” or „mano“, which is taught to the kids. It means that, whenever you see a person of respect, who you look up to, you take the hand and lead it to your forehead. So the children do it to us, the teachers and the sisters, but also the sisters do it to a priest for example. When a child does that to you, it shows you its respect.

This Friday, we celebrated the birthday of the principal of the Gualandi School. There was also a mass for her together with teachers, sisters, all the students and some parents. All the girls were sitting in the front rows who had beautiful white covers for their head to wear. This used to be the tradition to cover the head when praying or in mass.

 If you take a tricycle or a jeepney you always see writings like “God bless us” or “God is love” and whenever you pass by a church, the driver or passengers do the sign of the cross or touch the cross above the driver inside the vehicle.

The big difference in comparison to Germany in my opinion is that it’s totally common to be catholic, to go to church every Sunday and to try to live Christian values. In my two months here, I have only seen a woman with a hijab twice, although in the whole southern part of the Philippines, Mindanao, Muslims make up almost 80% of the population there.

In general, religion can also be described as the sense of life, the main thing that gives the people hope. If you have faith, it seems that you can stand every situation, whether it is a typhoon or a serious medical concern. It’s not rare that if you have a problem, you are told by others that they will pray for you or you should pray so that everything works out well.

You also find such behavior in peoples’ behaviour towards nuns. Guards or workers in the supermarket, everyone is just super friendly with them and many foreign kids that they meet also do the “mano”. One day when we went out with their car, although the driver was not allowed to drive that day because of the air pollution in Manila, an officer saw the license plate he wanted to pull the car out of traffic. But as soon as he saw the two nuns sitting in the front seats and indicating to him not to do it, he let them pass by without further hesitation.

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