The Filipino Catholics and their historicized narrative of struggle

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For Filipinos in Japan, their long-historicized existence in Japan has forced them to continually (re)adjust and (re)articulate their own sociocultural norms, particularly in secular areas like workplaces, societal institutions, marketplaces, and even in their own domestic familial spaces. This article argues, however, that this narrative of struggle is somehow extended even in the confines of religious and ecclesial spaces of Catholic parishes and churches. In this light, this article attempts to articulate the current status and predicament of Filipino Catholics in Japan, particularly in the Archdiocese of Tokyo, where the author spent ten months of field work in selected parishes, churches, and Filipino Catholic communities. It seeks to offer a fresh and updated analysis of their ethnoreligious stories given the emerging situational predicament of increasing nonreligiosity of society and the aging population of Filipino Catholics and their disinterested bicultural children. In response to current demographic crisis and future uncertainty, the Archdiocese has responded by initiating a call for “full integration” that embraces the image of a multicultural church in Japan to acknowledge the presence and contribution of foreign Catholics in Japan. However, this has been received with suspicion and anxiety, particularly from Filipino Catholics. While attempting to expose its ambiguity, this article also highlights the interesting situation of Filipino Catholics as religious in nonreligious Japan—despite this, they have reconfigured the way they express and practice their faith. Their historicized attempt to survive and negotiate as a religious “other” within a constrained and confined socio-spatial plane reveals interesting dynamics and opportunities for renewed dialogue
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Archival date: 2019-06-14
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