chapter  9
Being Catholic
Pages 11

I have a confession to make. Although this book so far has reflected an intellectual interest in religion in the Philippines, much of the underpinning curiosity has been more or less personal. Right from its outset, the “journey” I went through – if I may use a typical metaphor for spiritual seeking (Wuthnow, 1998) – to investigate religious identity is also somehow going back to my own roots. Pondering my research question in 2007, I could not help but be struck by

what I thought were remarkable similarities between scholarly observations about religious change in the West and my own thoughts about my peers at school. Admittedly, I knew I was “more religious” than my classmates since even at primary school I had mastery of the Holy Rosary, for example. On Fridays, after class, my devout grandmother would bring me to a cockfight stadium rented for the weekly gathering of Charismatic El Shaddai followers based in the neighbourhood. Twice, too, I underwent training to become an acolyte, but on neither occasion did I have the chance to officially serve our parish because my trainer had to be reassigned to a different part of the country. In my Catholic school, I played the keyboard at practically all the Masses celebrated in our gymnasium. In 1995, my Christian Living teacher selected me to compete in the first Metro Manila Bible Quiz, sponsored by the Philippine Bible Society. My partner and I won the very first elimination round. To top it all, the St Lorenzo Ruiz Award, named after the first Filipino saint, was given to me when I finished primary school. Although merely an early adolescent then, I was somewhat cognisant, like my informants in this study, that I was differently religious compared with my peers. Such early realisations could very well be my initial venture into the sociology

of religion. At that time, however, it was an unquestioned assumption for me that the religious communities I was part of were of the “committed” and “serious” Catholics. Everybody else, it seemed, could not care less about their faith. Reading several texts in the sociology of religion challenged this assumption and intrigued me with a sociological vision sensitive to the nuances of religious trends such as secularisation and individualisation (see Turner, 1991; Davie, 2007). It was thus that the trajectory of this study was set in motion. To reiterate, the book has been concerned with the following questions: What

does being Catholic mean to young people in the Philippines? and What social

conditions account for the emergence of their religious identity? In this final chapter, I will revisit its main arguments and contributions relative to the literature presented in Chapter 1. In the latter half, by recalling its empirical and theoretical contributions, attention is turned to the new questions and research prospects the findings have generated. These questions have to do with the role of young people and the future of Christianity, especially in the region.