Cabangan Church: A Congregation of Negritoes in Zambales

The church in Cabangan is the only church of Christ in the Philippines whose membership wholly consists of Aetas, or Negritoes (Spanish for “little black men”). At the time we met them (November 1989), they were led by a matriarchal figure named Rosita. I say “led” because I noticed that all the men listened to her, like her word was law. She was the wife of the most mature man among the group and exercised great influence among them. It was she who scheduled the classes for us.

These Aetas came down from Mount Pinatubo because food was scarce in the mountains. And so in the low lands they made do with what they could gather and hunt— wild animals like lizards and snakes and bananas and wild fruits from the riverside near the settlements of the Ilocanos. They helped in the harvesting of palay, and got paid either with money or with palay.

This was in the last days of 1989. I volunteered to do much of the  teaching, in Tagalog, which they also understood. My brother-in-law Tom would read the passages I cited in class in the Zambal dialect (the dialect of the Negritoes) using the Zambal translation of the Bible. That was how they came to know of the grace of Jesus and of their great need for a Savior. We spent a whole month teaching them. When they were ready, Tom baptized them in a river nearby.

We in a manner of speaking converted a whole village of them in San Juan, Cabangan, Zambales, consisting of 25 men and women not including children. After they became a church, we conducted worship services in the afternoons of Sunday. Tom and his family and I were then based in San Narciso. I was helping him grow the church there too.

This young Aeta named Leonardo is our song leader. Not being educated in a Bible college, he learns the songs by listening to other song leaders.

I left Zambales for Butuan City in February 1990. Tom went on and taught some more Negritoes in the area. His big break came when he baptized Ilocano families who owned farms in Cabangan. It signaled the beginning when the brown brethren (the Ilocanos) were gradually assimilated with the black brethren (the Negritoes) in the spirit of oneness with the God who saved both of them.

In the middle of 1990’s the late brother Lee Smeltzer donated some money to acquire the 1.5 hectare property above the Negrito settlement, now located in the village of Dolores, Cabangan. A year or so later, a chapel was built for this church with the funds donated by other US brethren.

There were fifty or more Negrito brethren in attendance when I preached there last Sunday, November 7, not including children. Tom told me that this Negrito church consists of 300 or more members. Many did not come; one reason was that the majority had moved to other places in Zambales, to Manila, and to Mindanao in search of jobs and opportunities to make a living.

Last Sunday I spoke on the subject so dear to my heart, using Hebrews 12:1-3 as text. I think I spoke for an hour, but nobody even noticed it! The Aeta brethren were reacting to my sermon, smiling as I spoke, making some favorable comments on my illustrations, nodding their heads in agreement!

That Sunday morning they had a meeting, and made a decision to support the coming Lectureship event this November 20. Each family will contribute a hundred pesos for the food. They already had collected over a thousand pesos for this purpose. Marcial the preacher says he will donate a sack of rice. They expect an attendance of over a hundred on that day.  Five speakers, including Tomas Lizardo and me and others from Kalaklan church will be speaking on this lectureship.

A Negrito hut near the church building. Brethren have agreed to my suggestion that this hut be moved down the hill so the church building can be expanded.

There is a plan to establish here a Bible school that will serve the Negrito and Ilocano brethren in the area. Two teachers have volunteered to teach. You will hear more about this work in the days ahead.

Advertisements

The Preacher and His Preaching

IMG_0570Is preaching a tired old business? On the contrary it is a business that concerns itself with the most important thing one could ever think of: That of making ourselves right with the God whom we have displeased.

Displeased, you say? Yes. We displease Him when we  get out of line or misbehave. We displease Him when we’re out of step with His will and purposes for us. We displease Him when we refuse to heed His pleadings. We displease Him when we wallow in the mire of sin. We displease Him in every which way we turn when that turn turns out to be bad. And we can never make ourselves right with Him, not even with ourselves, unless He supplies us with the formula to make us attuned to Him again.

Click here to read more>>>

For our lessons on the preacher and his preaching life, click this link.

For our lessons on God’s great redemptive plan, click this link.

A Profile of its Workers and their Families

The Mountain View church is a congregation newly established in the mountainous area of Babag Uno, beyond upper Busay, city of Cebu, Philippines. Ed Maquiling, who was then the local minister of Talamban church, began the work here on the latter part of the year 2001 as a follow up ministry to edify the family who were formerly worshipping with Talamban church but who could not always come due to its great distance and because of prohibitive costs of fares.

Much evangelism by Ed Maquiling and other workers has been done in the place and in other sitios nearby since the start of the work. Classes are taught individually or in groups, conducted in homes or in the assembly, as a way to bring the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and for people to avail of the saving power that only Jesus, the Son of God, could impart. Those who have been taught have also strived to put on Jesus and make him the Master of their lives. In fact a number have obeyed Jesus, ladies and men coming from the humble and the poor, and from prominent families in Babag Uno, Hamtik, and other places nearby. So great was the influence of this new band of disciples that they are now known as “a group of nice people who can do no harm,” in the language of one grand old woman in the place.

At present the church worships in a house which is filled to overcrowding on any good Sunday afternoon.

Two preachers served the church as its ministers: Ed Maquiling and Eduardo Teman. Eduardo Teman, or Edward, was formerly a minister of the Baptist church, having preached and taught and built up Baptist congregations in Makilala, North Cotabato. Trained as a dairy man and livestock breeder, he got his first taste of serving his God while in the employ of  Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center, in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. His experiences and abilities as a Baptist minister were put to good use when he cast his lot with the Lord’s church and assisted the Lord’s work in Babag Uno. It was Ed Maquiling who baptized Edward.

In later years Ed Maquiling became involved in the work at Leyte Christian College, serving for a while as one of its teachers as well as its assistant director. Edward on the other hand moved to Mindanao. The church in Babag Uno however remains steadfast in the faith. Three of its men take the lead in preaching to their neighbors, teaching Bible classes at church, and leading the brethren during worship. The church is in a sense indigenous, autonomous and independent and has continued to be so till this day. Occasionally Ed Maquiling visits them.

BACK TO HOME PAGE

%d bloggers like this: