HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 36-37 no. 1-2 (1992)

Reflections on Bikol Church History: The Role of the Vincentian-Trained Clergy

Fr. Rolando S. Delagoza

Discipline: Religion, History, Philippine History



The great Bicolano historian, Dr. Domingo Abella, had this to say about Bishop Jorge Barlin: “Msgr. Jorge Barlin was not only the first Bicolano Churchman to have been elevated to the episcopacy, and the first native of his diocese to occupy its tercentenarian see; he was not only the 'first Filipino Bishop under the American regime,' as most writers call him-he was, we maintain, the first Filipino bishop of all times. He was the first native to have attained that honor in three hundred years of Catholicism in the Philippines under Spain. The nearest approach to it was the episcopal appointment of Philippine-born Creoles during the 18th century. At the change of regime, the Philippine hierarchy was composed entirely of Spanish friars."


Bishop Jorge Barlin rightly deserves the accolade given him by our historians. He symbolizes the many, though unappreciated, contributions of the Bikol clergy to the nation and the Bikol region. It is well to recall the outstanding events of Bishop Barlin's life in order to make people remember that he was the first Filipino Bishop. A contemporary biographer wrote: "He became the idol of his parishioners, and was a living example to all the clergy for his excellent virtues and unstained name ... a lover, like a few, of the splendor of the Catholic worship and of the discipline of the clergy, he was at all times a model along these lines; not only did he set an example-he saw to it that, with whatever monetary help he could give, all other priests under his vicariate would do the same... his circulars to his subordinates were full of wisdom and sound advice".