Augustinian Friars Profile · Fray Diego de Hererra · History of the Augustinians

The Life of Fray Diego de Herrera and his martyrdom in the Philippines

Actual text translated into English from the “Conquistas de las Islas de Filipinas” by Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, OSA, pp. 749-759

The Life of the venerable Fray Diego de Herrera, and the unfortunate failure of the mission he was conducting in this Province

Of the lamentable events of Father Martin de Rada and Father Agustin de Albuquerque in the voyage they undertook to China, the end that the venerable Fray Diego de Herrera met was the most unfortunate and fatal, with the new operatives who accompanied him to these islands, in the propagation of the faith not only there but also in this archipelago and that of the vast empire of China, whose tragedy is retold but historians. However, I preferred to follow the narrative he makes it to the letter, as well as about the life of such an apostolic gentleman, as written by Fray Jose Sicardo in Adiciones a la Historia Mejicana.[1]

The venerable Fray Diego de Herrera was born of honorable parents, in an area of the Archbishopric of Toledo names Recas. He was the son of Miguel de Alameda and his legitimate wife, Juana Martinez. As good Christians, they educated their son in good customs. He grew so well-inclined that as a child, he would gather together others of his age, and would play at preaching them platitudes. Everyone admired his saintly propensity in this undertaking, and was of the opinion that God destined him for greater things, as time would prove when he would become a famous preacher in Spain, Mexico and the Philippines, where his efficacy and sweet words and sentences would enthrall his listeners. He was inclined to the religious state, and took on our habit at the convent of Toledo, where he professed his vows on March 10, 1545, even Fray Martin Claver in the history he wrote of our province  in the Philippine states that he was a native of Medina del Campo and the son of our convent in Valladolid.[2] However, not even Father Herrera[3] found him among the sons of that convent, nor did I find him among the list I have of them. Our famous historian[4] states his teacher was Fray Jeronimo Roman, and since he would have taken his vows in our Haro [Jaro] convent on August 8, 1551 and the venerable Fray Diego on March 10, 1545, the time is proportionate to encompass the studies to which he admits, because before leaving the province of Castille, the venerable Fray Diego and expounded there with the credit corresponding to his great genius and knowledge due to his continuous studies; albeit with such subordinate resignation to his prelates that the enterprises of spiritual conquests were more the result of obedience than of the ardent spirit with which he undertook them. Continue reading “The Life of Fray Diego de Herrera and his martyrdom in the Philippines”

Augustinian Friars Profile · Augustinian letters · Fray Martin de Rada · History of the Augustinians

Martin de Rada’s compaint letter against the extortions and unjust collection of tributes

The Augustinians and Guido de Lavezares

When the Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi died, a box of pliegos which contained the list of his successors was opened. The number one appointee was the former master-of-camp, Mateo del Saz but this had died in Mindanao in April, 1567. The next on the list was Guido de Lavezares, the treasurer of the expedition and companion of Legazpi since the day they sailed out of La Navidad. At the time of Legazpi’s death Lavezares was in Cebu as governor of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Although of advanced age, (he was with the Villalobos expedition thirty years before), he was still quite strong and he had the wisdom and prudence gained through age and experience. He came to Manila to assume his post.

The Augustinians had by this time taken charge of the pacified sectors of the country. They had put up doctrinas or small settlements for recently Christianized Filipinos, and mission sites or reducciones for non-Christian natives. For their fast conversion the Holy See granted them certain religious exemptions and privileges.

As usual there were anuses from the soldiers, Spanish and Europeans – most of which fell under extortions and unjust collection of tributes. P. Rada on June 1, 1574 sent a letter of complaint to Governor LAvezares asking him to write to the King and give His Majesty a true account of what was being done in the Islands. P. de Rada himself sent the following letter to the Viceroy on June 24, 1574.

Martin de Rada: Defender of the Natives, his letter to the

One reason for the tribute is pirates

“My Lord – Your Lordship has requested my written opinion on the affairs of this land so that you may do whatever is necessary for the better service of God, of the King and of our conscience. I reiterate what I said yesterday in Oton. That it would be best to hold a meeting of all the priests here so that we may confer on the affair of this land and till then there should be no changes so that the Indians shall only pay a tribute of seventy gantas of rice and one blanket per head. You also know that many of the priests in their sermons, confessions and conversations, rightly objected to the tribute so that I feel that this meeting is necessary. All the priests here have told me that it is their opinion that Spaniards hve no right to these lands because although in general there may be many just motives for war still war may not be carried out without an express order from the King. And since the King has never ordered us to make war for in a letter addressed to the late Governor, which I have read, he says that he wishes us to act in friendship, it follows that any armed conquest made in these islands is unjust even though we may have had cause to make war. Furthermore, there has hardly ever been just cause for we have gone everywhere, soliciting friendship and tribute and even where tribute is promised we have made war when they do not give as much as we want and where tribute is refused we have burned and killed as is now the case in the towns of Camarines where the Indians for fear of us have fled to the hills for we have burned their houses and caused much damage. I will not speak of the towns that we have raided without warning, for what right do we have to subject them and to collect tribute from them, specially where we have s yet rendered them no service in exchange for their tribute? What right do we have to ask Ilocos to pay us three measures of gold without further parley? This we have also done in Camarines and Cuyo and in all other towns that are at some distance from our own. Is it not clear that this is not just? Hence, he who sends the soldiers, he who commands them, the soldiers themselves, those who share the booty with the soldiers, those who aided them and those who do nothing to stop them although they are able to do so are all guilty and are jointly and severally bound to restitution. As regards the Indian towns next to our own, although it is true that we protect them and preach the Gospel to them still they have their own grievances for we make use of them in our many voyages and whereas they were free they are now vassals. Furthermore, we do not give them as much protection as we should for there are as many pirates as before and they are subjected to raids from the Indians who are still not pacified. The fact that His Majesty ordered that the land be distributed is not good enough in conscience for His Majesty is ill-informed and many things were done against his will and even in those cases where we agreed that encomiendas should be given we did so only to avoid greater evils.

The Injustices of the Spanish soldiers according to Martin de Rada, 1st Prior Provincial of the New Augustinian Province

“Besides, the Indians now pay three measures of gold which is excessive as we who deal with them and are acquainted with their hardship well know for they are compelled to eat roots and hardly have clothing so that rather than pay tribute, they often destroy their houses and hide. In other cases, tribute must be collected by force of arms. Oftentimes, they hold the Indians prisoners to compel to pay. The priests are, therefore, of the opinion that under present conditions, each Indian should pay in food or clothing only to the value of one measure of gold as was done in new Spain. As time goes on, perhaps, they may give more. However, since they have already paid more that is due nothing further should be collected from them especially because we have acted without justice. Since you want my opinions, I believe that since we defend this land and reside here, Your Lordship and his Captains must send to the King true accounts of what has been done here and how we are collecting the tribute so that the King may do what is proper and in the meantime the tribute should be reduced and those of us who have something should share it with those who have nothing so that we may deserve this tribute. Your Lordship should protect the natives, doing justice, redressing their grievances and putting down the pirates and we in turn shall preach the Gospel. I sign this opinion in San Pablo, Manila, June 21, 1574.

(SGD. Fray Martin de Rada)

Lavezares wrote to the King on the 17th of July, 1574, giving his own opinions on the tribute. The letter gives a picture of conditions in the country a few years after the conquest, and also a brief but interesting history of the first explorations from island to island prior to the landing at Cebu.

You Majesty – I believe that when Father Martin de rada, Provincial of the Augustinians, wrote his opinion on local affairs and on the tribute paid by the natives, he did so having in mind only the service of God and the good of our consciences. However, even the best minds sometimes err either through excessive zeal or even through ignorance. I would like to point out a number of things in his opinion, which I believe would cause grave damage to our interests here. On the basis of your letter borne by Captain Juan de Isla he holds Your Majesty to be ill-informed. This is an error on his part because what you say in your letter is merely what you said before when you first had news of our affairs. You were advised that the late Governor Legazpi entered into friendly terms with the natives. Thus when we first landed in the island of Ibabao, the Indians came and we made friends with them and we gave them food, merchandise and other things without asking from them anything in return. The same was done in the Calayan River where Captain Andres de Ibarra and Fr. Diego de Herrera went. We made peace and we took nothing from them. As a matter of fact, although a number of the natives of Ibabao killed Francisco Gomez and one other Spaniard, even then, we did not make war on them. Legazpi went from island to island inviting the natives to be our friends and waged war on no one. Thus in Bohol the principal natives came willingly to our vessels and promised to be your vassals. From Bohol, we sent Captain Juan de Isla and the said Father Provincial to Butuan. From Butuan they went to Cebu where they parleyed with the natives from the ships but the natives showered arrows on the vessels. Seeing this, Father Andres de Urdaneta told the men that since the Cebuanos were apostates, it was lawful to make war on them and so we did.

                The Governor then built his capital in Cebu and while there, many of the Indians of the surrounding islands and even those of Cebu itself agreed to be Your Majesty’s vassals without the need of war but merely by speaking softly and giving them presents of clothing, merchandise, food and other things. When these friendly Indians were later raided by other Indians we protected them. All these we have repeatedly told Your Majesty.

                Fr. Rada states that we have no just title to this land. We are not lawyers. All we know is that we have come here in obedience to your order. That is sufficient for us.

                As far as the robberies and damages are concerned, we are not to be blamed because on repeated occasions the natives have made war on us especially in Manila. When Martin de Goite first came to Manila he entered into a treaty of friendship with the Rajahs of Manila. However, despite this, the natives tried to finish him off for no reason at all and they fired at his vessel with five or six cannons so that the Spaniards in self-defense were compelled to attack the town. We later burned it purely for our own safety. The very natives have later admitted that it was they who began hostilities.

                It is true that we have raided towns but we have done so only in the case of such towns as revolted against Your Majesty’s authority for it was necessary to humble their pride for the greater safety of the friendly Indians. While obviously excesses were committed this should not be held against all of us because your Governors have in every case tried to conform to your Majesty’s order. And it is the natives who are be blamed for the damages caused for they have made war on us with ambushes and stratagems and if we went about unarmed, they could capture us and torture us to death, so that it is necessary for us to be always ready to use force. Before we came here, the natives were prone to kill each other for light motives and we have to adapt ourselves to these conditions. I agree that it is only fair that the natives be protected and dealt with justly and so we defend all friendly towns near us not only from external raids but even from internal troubles. Hence, peace and order have improved greatly and the natives may now trade without hindrance or fear of robbers. Whereas, there used to be banditry, now there is security and the pirates have been pushed back to those parts where we are not. These pirates do little harm for we capture and punish them and even now some of them are our prisoners here in this City so that as time goes by the damages they cause shall diminish.

Ilocos and Camarines are rich in gold

We have collected large amounts of gold as tribute in Ilocos and Camarines without benefit to the natives but you must understand that in order to eat we need to be supported by the natives. Furthermore, we cannot protect them unless they first pay tribute. Even then, we only get what they are able to give without hardship and they pay in much coin or merchandise as is available to them so that some provinces supply us with food, others with wax, others with whatever they have. Ilocos and Camarines have paid their tribute in gold because they more of god than of clothing and food which are harder to come by there than elsewhere so that those natives prefer to pay their tribute in gold rather than in food or supplies. So far we have not settled those provinces because we lack men. And even so, Captain Juan de Salcedo is now in Ilocos and has founded a town there with a priest to preach to the natives. We have not yet settled Camarines because we discovered the land only a short while ago but we shall settle there as soon as possible.

Early Filipino customs in the Visayas

In so far, as the alleged excessive tribute is concerned, please note also the provinces here differ in wealth, some being rich and some poor, some abound in farmers, others in merchants, others in mines and others in robbers. With this in mind, the late Governor Legazpi assessed the tribute of the towns around Manila Bay at two bushels of palay and one colored blanket, two yards long and one yard wide per year or if they so prefer to give three measures of gold or such other equivalent merchandise as they may want to give. In fact, this tribute amounts to six reales of silver every year for a measure of gold is worth two reales or at most two and one-half reales. Your Majesty will see that this tribute is moderate for it does not amount even to one-half of that paid by the Indians of new Spain and this is the tribute levied on the Muslims here for they are men of means with farms and merchandise and wealth, so that in four days they may earn enough to pay the tribute for one year.

Expensive cost of living: Reason of the demand of tribute

The Indians have many sources of income and thus they have much gold and jewels so that the principal natives wear on their person in jewels alone ten to twelve thousand ducats of gold aside from their lands, slave and mines and even the individual Indians carry on their persons bracelets of gold, so much so that even slaves wear jewels. It is false to say that the poverty of the Indians is such that they have to eat roots. The truth is that is their custom on certain months to eat camotes[1] and sago-bread and that it is not because they lack the means but because they eat all kinds of food and they would rather spend their time drinking in feasts than in walking four leagues out of town to buy rice[2]. Even then, this happens only in some of the Visayan Islands. Please take into account also that sometimes the natives, as a sign of mourning, abstain from eating rice so that in certain parts of the Visayas they other grains, fish, pork, chicken and many varieties of liquors. That does not mean that they are poor for they have gold, slaves and land and while they have less than natives of Luzon it is because they work less. We have taken this into account so that the Visayans only pay one-half bushel of palay and one grass blanket for their tribute and we have assessed every province in accordance with their means. So far, their tribute is so moderate that it can be easily paid because with our coming the natives are more prosperous than ever.

                It is not true as Father Rada says that a tribute of one measure of gold is sufficient. Even now we find it hard to live with a tribute thrice as large especially those of us who are entitled to collect tribute from only three hundred Indians or even five or six hundre Indians. Only those are well-off who are entitled to collect a thousand tributes. Things here are very expensive. A pair of shoes is worth one-half tael of gold which is equivalent to the tribute of eight Indians. A shirt is worth six pesos and everything else is worth twice as much as in New Spain, so that if the Indians pay only one measure of gold which is two reales for their tribute we would be unable to live here. Take note of the fact that the natives are wealthier than those of New Spain for they have clothing, silk and cloth of gold, fine porcelain, spears, pottery, daggers, bells, earthenware and other chattels as well as food that comes from irrigated lands as well as wines that they manufacture from palms and nipa as well as wax, gold and cotton from which they make blankets. Also, the Chinese bring them silk, porcelain, perfumes and iron, so that it is easy for the natives to pay their tribute, and if some of them refuse to pay it, it is not because of a lack of means but rather of a lack of wish to do so. It sometimes happens that when some of the Indians are drunk, they threaten us and refuse to pay tribute. If some of them go about without clothes it is not because of lack of clothes because they have clothes.

Consequently, although the Father Provincial and other priests may have a good intention their opinion, if followed, would prejudice these lands and the natives because if tribute is not paid, the Spaniards will go about stealing as they used to do. It is best for all concerned that tribute be paid, thus we have now greater security and trade is benefited.











Before me, Fernando Riquel

One of the first critics of LAvezares was also an Augustinian, P. Francisco de Ortega, OSA. This friar who so held Legazpi ni sich high esteem could only find weakness in Lavezares. On the 1st of June, 1573 he wrote a parecer to the Viceroy Martin Enriquez in Mexico telling His Excellency:


[1] If he was talking about customs, in Cebu this is still popular in the month of November or the celebration of the All saints day. And even in Holy Week, root crops are basically cooked. Is this how the missionaries adopted to the custom of the early Filipinos?

[2] Is this a typical custom of Filipinos that they prefer to drink maybe alcohol, which tuba is already available?

Source: Maza, R. Morales. Augustinians in Panay. Iloilo: University of San Agustin Press, 1987. pp. 84-95.

Augustinian Friars Profile · General History · Philippines

Augustinian Bishops in the Philippines

In the history of Augustinian presence in the Philippines since their arrival in 1565 together with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, there had been 18 Augustinians who were appointed and served as bishops to the four major archdioceses in the Philippine islands – The Archdioceses of Manila (1579) Cebu (1595), Nueva Caceres (Bicol-1595), and Nueva Segovia (Ilocos-Cagayan – 1595). The first Augustinian bishop is Pedro de Agurto in the Diocese of Cebu and he is also the first Bishop of Cebu when it was made a dioceses in 1595. And, the last Augustinian bishop is Arsenio del Campo y Monasterio in the Diocese of Nueva Caceres from November 25, 1887 to July 20, 1903. Here is the list of the Augustinian bishops in the Philippines since 1595, 30 years after the Augustinians first arrived.

3 – Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
4 – Archdiocese of Cebu
4 – Archdiocese of Manila
7 – Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres

1. 1917: Bishop Arsenio del Campo y Monasterio, O.E.S.A., Bishop emeritus of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1887.11.25 – 1903.07.20)
Born: 1839.12.14 (Spain)
Ordained Priest: 1863
Consecrated Bishop: 1888.04.15
Died: 1917.07.10 († 77)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1887.11.25 – 1903.07.20)
Titular Bishop of Epiphania (1912.12.02 – 1917.07.10)

2. 1886: Bishop Casimiro Herrero Pérez, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1880.10.01 – 1886.11.12)
Born: 1824.05.04 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1881.02.06
Died: 1886.11.12 († 62)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1880.10.01 – 1886.11.12)

3. 1872: Bishop Juan José Aragonés, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines)
(1865.03.27 – 1872.08.14)
Born: 1816.08.21 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1865.10.01
Died: 1872.08.14 († 55)
Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines) (1865.03.27 – 1872.08.14)

4. 1856: Bishop Vicente Barreiro y Pérez, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines)
(1846.01.19 – 1848.04.14)
Born: 1790.04.01 (Spain)
Ordained Priest: 1813
Consecrated Bishop: 1849.01.28
Died: 1856.05.17 († 66)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1846.01.19 – 1848.04.14)
Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines) (1848.04.14 – 1856.05.17)

5. 1845: Archbishop José Seguí, O.E.S.A., Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines)
(1830.07.05 – 1845.07.04)
Born: 1773.10.03 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1830.10.28
Died: 1845.07.04 († 71)
Titular Bishop of Hierocæsarea (1829.07.27 – 1830.07.05)
Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines) (1830.07.05 – 1845.07.04)

6. 1840: Bishop Santos Gómez Marañón, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Cebu (Philippines)
(1829.09.28 – 1840.10.23)
Born: 1763.11.01 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1830.10.28
Died: 1840.10.23 († 76)
Bishop of Cebu (Philippines) (1829.09.28 – 1840.10.23)

7. 1829: Archbishop Hilarión Díez, O.E.S.A., Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines)
(1826.07.03 – 1829.05.07)
Born: 1761.10.21 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1827.10.21
Died: 1829.05.07 († 67)
Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines) (1826.07.03 – 1829.05.07)

8. 1803: Bishop Agustín Pedro Blaquier, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines)
(1801.07.20 – 1803.12.31)
Born: 1749.10.02 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1803.02.20
Died: 1803.12.31 († 54)
Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines) (1801.07.20 – 1803.12.31)

9. 1796: Bishop Juan García Ruiz, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1784.06.26 – 1796.05.02)
Born: 1720.06.06 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1786.03.12
Died: 1796.05.02 († 75)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1784.06.26 – 1796.05.02)

10. 1728: Bishop Sebastián Foronda, O.E.S.A., Apostolic Administrator of Cebu (Philippines)
Born: 1672 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1723.11.30
Died: 1728.05.20 († 56)
Titular Bishop of Calydon (1722.03.02 – 1728.05.20)
Apostolic Administrator of Cebu (Philippines) (1722.03.02 – 1728.05.20)

11. 1645: Bishop Pedro Arce, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Cebu (Philippines)
(1612.09.17 – 1645.10.16)
Born: (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1613
Died: 1645.10.16
Bishop of Cebu (Philippines) (1612.09.17 – 1645.10.16)

12. 1641: Archbishop Fernando Guerrero, O.E.S.A., Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines)
(1634.01.09 – 1641.07.01)
Born: 1567 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1628
Died: 1641.07.01 († 74)
Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines) (1627.05.17 – 1634.01.09)
Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines) (1634.01.09 – 1641.07.01)

13. 1639: Bishop Francisco Zamudio y Abendano, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1628.07.10 – 1639)
Born: 1565
Died: 1639 († 74)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1628.07.10 – 1639)

14. 1629: Archbishop Miguel García Serrano, O.E.S.A., Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines)
(1618.02.12 – 1629.06.14)
Born: 1569 (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1617
Died: 1629.06.14 († 60)
Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Philippines) (1616.08.03 – 1618.02.12)
Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila (Philippines) (1618.02.12 – 1629.06.14)

15. 1623: Bishop Diego Guevara, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1616.08.03 – 1623)
Born: 1568 (Spain)
Died: 1623 († 55)
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1616.08.03 – 1623)

16. 1608: Bishop Pedro de Agurto, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Cebu (Philippines)
(1595.08.30 – 1608.10.14)
Consecrated Bishop: 1596
Died: 1608.10.14
Bishop of Cebu (Philippines) (1595.08.30 – 1608.10.14)

17. 1602: Bishop Francisco Ortega, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1599.09.13 – 1602)
Born: (Spain)
Consecrated Bishop: 1600
Died: 1602
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1599.09.13 – 1602)

18. 1646: Fr. Nicolas de Zaldivar y Zapata, O.E.S.A., Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines)
(1644.05.02 – 1646)
Died: 1646
Bishop of Nueva Caceres (Philippines) (1644.05.02 – 1646)

Augustinian Friars Profile · History of the Augustinians

The First Five Augustinian Friars in the Philippines


CEBU, Philippines –  The Augustinians are said to have pioneered the missionary endeavors in the Philippines.

It was on April 27, 1565, when the Legazpi expedition caught sight of the mountainous islands of Cebu. The expedition brought five Augustinians who would later initiate Christianization, from the colonial hub of Cebu radiating to other parts of the Philippine archipelago.

But who were these friars? How were they chosen for the expedition? An Augustinian literature about the early conquest of the Spaniards in the country entitled, “Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas,” written by Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, OSA, recorded the preparations of the Legazpi expedition. Chapter XIV of Book I explained the selection process for the friars that would accompany the expedition.

Fray Gaspar de San Agustin wrote about the fervor of the friars who wanted to join the expedition to preach the Gospel. The Father Provincial of Mexico had to temper the friars in order to choose “a few without the complaint and holy emulation of so many pretenders” (San Agustin, p. 221). A special meeting was held in the convent of Culhuacan in Mexico, presided by Fray Pedro de Herrera, OSA, to elect the religious to be sent to the mission.

The said meeting formally elected originally six friars for the mission to go with the expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. They were Fray Andres de Urdaneta, Fray Martin de Rada, Fray Diego de Herrera, Fray Andres de Aguirre, Fray Lorenzo Jimenez (or San Esteban) and Fray Pedro de Gamboa.

Fray Andres de Urdaneta was born in 1498 in Villafranca de Guipuzcoa, Spain. He professed his vows in the Augustinian convent in Mexico on May 20, 1553.

Continue reading: The Freeman

Augustinian Friars Profile · Fray Diego de Hererra

Part 3: Cause for the Beatification of Fray Diego de Hererra, OSA

This article was already published online in tripod. Duplication of this article do not intend a copyright infringement.


Fray Diego de Hererra
fray diego de herrera’s picture found in holy cross diocesan shrine in batalay bato catanduanes

Little we know about FRAY DIEGO de HERRERA’s life, but there are sources that we can use in order to know him. When I was still young my Father was invited as speaker in Bato, it was the late Dr. Antonio, Zantua who if I was not mistaken was the chairman of Fr. Diego de Herrera’s fourth centennial celebration of his martyrdom. The purpose of the celebration is to invigorate the faith of Catanduganon; He died propagating the Catholic faith to the native of Batalay, Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines. Goyena Del Prado in his book IBALON testified this.

On April 25, 1576 the Galleon Espirito Santo was grounded in Nagnangang Buaya point in Batalay, Bato, Catanduanes. This Galleon was heading to Cebu, City coming from Acapulco, one of the passengers of the galleon was Fray Diego de Herrera, an Augustinian Priest, this account by Joaquin Martinez de Zuniega was quoted by Francisco Mallari S.J. in his book “Ibalon Under Storm and Siege” Page 16. They were carrying a cargo of merchandize and passengers while foundering in the East Coast of Catanduanes they were grounded at Batalay a Barangay of Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines all of the passengers were killed except to a certain Spaniard name Geronimo Alvis who knew the local tongue of Visayans.

On April 21, 1973 on the occasion of the fourth centennial celebration of the death of Fray Diego de Herrera, a decree was Promulgated by Bishop Teotimo Pacis Bishop of Legazpi declaring the Holy Cross of Batalay become a Diocesan Shrine. The people in Bato believed that Fray Diego de Herrera was buried under that shrine of Holy Cross. (As I understand the Holy Cross was brought by Fray Herrera from Spain to Batalay, Bato) This was the first step in honoring the martyrdom of a priest in Catanduanes, but until then there was no same honor given to him.

Again another legend says that the death of Fray Diego de Herrera brought punishment to the people of Bato who were punished in the way of the appearance of schools of swordfish that attacked them. (Source Bato history Published in Philippines: A History of Bikol Region by Maglanyaon.)

Another legend was if a certain locality killed a priest there would be no one in the locality would become a priest. Many Batonhon studied for priesthood but none became successful. This was the testimony of Monsignor Alfonso Molina the first Bato ordained priest in his sermons, which I heard from Him. Knowing this cursed from God He prayed so hard to Fray Diego de Herrera asking him to intercede from God to removed the cursed. After praying Mamo Molina lit a candle to look for the sign from the martyr priest, if truly the cursed was removed. Truly the sign were given, while there was a strong wind because Batalay was facing the Pacific he ask that the lighted candle be consumed if truly he will become a priest. That candle was consumed, The good Monsignor served there until his death even if he was already retired as a token gratitude to the martyr priest. After that bishop, first Filipino Dominican was accepted by the Lord as his priest. (The 1st Dominican priest is Fr Vargas, the Bishop is Jose Sorra)

If Fray Diego de Herrera will be beatified, I am sure this will bring so many blessings in Catanduanes because once there was one Saint who lives in the place, therefore God will look much favor from them because of the honor they have given to his martyr Son. His life and works will be emulated by the Catholics who are looking for father image, especially today that the people of Catanduanes distrusted many of the priests in Diocese of Virac. While the cause of beatification of Fr Peyton and Bishop Sheen is widely seen in the Television FRAY DIEGO DE HERRERA WILL BE LONELY SEEN IN CATANDUANES.NET. I hope that it will appear permanently in this site. Please STR!

We invite Agustinian priests to help us process the beatification of your brother Fray Diego de Herrera. I am sure he is a Saint because He is a martyr of his faith as testified by Goyena Del Prado in His book Ibalon. Also we invite Fr Catalino Arevalo S.J. (he is one of the in-charge of the beatification of Beato Calungsod of Cebu City) to help us process the beatification of Fray Herrera. We hope that the historian from Catanduanes, Fr. Jose Arcilla S.J. of San Andres, Catanduanes will also share his expertise in the field of history.

Those Catandunganons who have a surplus of money may contribute for the Beatification of Fray Diego de Herrera. The process of beatification is very expensive that it needs the wholehearted support of every Catandunganons. The blessings from God are more than enough than any material riches that we can get from this temporary World. By, Langob of Marimar Village II, Pque City, Oct 23 1966.

PHILIPPINES History of Bicol Region by Jaime T Manlanyaon

References: Ibalon by Goyena del Prado, Ibalon Under Storm and Siege by Mallary Francisco S.J., A


Augustinian Friars Profile

Fray Lorenzo de Leon, OSA

Lorenzo de Leon was a native of Granada, and entered the Augustinian Order in Mexico where he made profession in 1578. Four years later, he entered the Philippine mission, and spent twelve years as minister in Indian villages in Luzon. He was then advanced to various high offices in his order among them that of provincial (1596). He was a religious of exceptional abilities, and the general of the order, as  a recognition of his great endowments in virtue and knowledge, appointed him master and president of provincial chapters. After his second election as provincial (1605) he was at the intermediate congregation deposed from his dignity by the fathers definitors. Accepting this rude blow with humility and Christian resignation, he withdraw to the convent of San Pablo del los Montes where he spent the following year in prayer and pious works. Returning to Mexico in 1606, he died in that city in 1623. This account is condensed from Perez’s Catalogo, p. 29.

Augustinian Friars Profile

Fray Juan de Medina, OSA

Fray Juan de Medina was born at Sevilla, and entered the Augustinian convent of that city. On reaching the Philippines he was assigned to the Bisayan group, and was known to those natives by the name of the “apostle of Panay.” A zealous worker, he was wont on feast days to preach to his flock in three languages – Bisayan, Chinese, and Spanish. He was minister at Laglag in 1613, at Mambusao in 1615, at Dumangas in 1618, at Panay in 1619, and at Passi in 1623; prior of the convent at Cebu in 1626; and definitor in 1629. After twenty years of missionary labors, being soul-tormented, he asked and secured reluctant permission to return to Spain; but the exigencies of the weather prevented the ship from making its voyage. Three years later he obtained permission to make some voyage, but died at sea (1635). Diaz, in his Conquistas, says that Medina composed many things in aid of his missionary work; but only the present history and four volumes of manuscript sermons in the Panayana language are known with certainty. See Perez’s Catalogo, pp. 83-85; and Pardo de Tavera’s Biblioteca Filipina, p. 255.

Augustinian Friars Profile · Fray Diego de Hererra

Part 2: Fray Diego de Herrera, OSA

This should have been a follow-up article on the Diego de Herrera Case that I posted at AgustinongPinoy.  But since the site is still inaccessible after three days, I am posting this here.
Fr. J. celebrated his birthday today in our convent at San Pedro, Laguna. A lot of guests came, representing several friars’ communities in Laguna and Manila.  Among these were the novitiate community of San Agustin Intramuros Manila, headed by Fr. P. who is also one of the more published Augustinian friars working in the Philippines today.

Some weeks ago,  I discovered a forum post at Catanduanes.Net  where a certain Mr. Langub (or Langob) was asking the Augustinians to help them work for the process of Diego de Herrera for the sainthood.  Fray Diego de Herrera was one of the five Augustinian friars who accompanied Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to the Philippines in 1565.   I was interested to know whether the friars of the Vicariate of the Orient are acquainted with the case.  Sure enough Fr. P. told me that they have known about the case since 1973.  He does not know however how it  has progressed since the Bishop of Catanduanes at that time — Bishop Molina — who has documented the case for Diego de Herrera had died.  He also mentioned that  Fr. A, now assigned as Master of Students at Intramuros, was tasked to follow up the case.

This news from Fr. P. was refreshing since it was only some weeks ago that I learned about the case for Diego de Herrera, and from a layman, too.  Since my student days, I have wondered whether the first five missionaries to the Philippines were saintly; it would be a pity if they were not, since the fruit of their work is something that the Filipino Church is now enjoying.  I of course know that Martin de Rada , the superior of the group, and Urdaneta , the navigator of Miguel de Legazpi, had the reputation of being saintly.  But Diego de Herrera?  Compared to the two previous friars I mention, he is virtually unknown, except for a few letters he wrote to the King of Spain for more missionaries to the Philippines!

Mr. Langob contends in his article posting that Diego de Herrera was a martyr, and he is regarded as such by their local Church.  Fr. P however tells me a funny story that was told him, in turn, by the late Bishop Molina.  It is said that  in Catanduanes, there was a chief whose wife had difficulties giving birth.  They were about to  perform a Caesarean operation on the  pregnant woman when Fray Diego intervened and told them not to go on with it.  The chief agreed, but then he said that if the woman died, Diego de Herrera will die with her.  To cut the long story short, the woman did die.  And so Fray Diego de Herrera was also put to death by the chief.
Was Fray Diego de Herrera a martyr for the faith?  I, too would like to know.

Augustinian Friars Profile · Fray Diego de Hererra

Part 1: Fray Diego de Herrera, OSA

Fray Diego de Herrera  was already a missionary in Mexico when he was called to accompany four other Augustinian friars with the Adelantado Legazpi on their way to the Philippines.  He could have been the first archbishop of Manila if not for his ship being wrecked in an island off the coast of Bicol.  According to a biography by Fr. Rodolfo Arreza, OSA (“The Beginning of the Augustinian Order in the Philippines:  A Bio of Fr. Diego de Herrera” in Augustinian Legacy, January 2002, pp. 18–24), the first prior of the first Augustinian community of Cebu perished with ten other friars newly recruited for mission work in the islands.


Continue reading “Part 1: Fray Diego de Herrera, OSA”