Pres. Aguinaldo and O.M. Aglipay, with some Cabinet Official of the 1st Phil. Republic, Dec. 1904.
The Supreme Bishop is the primate, spiritual head and chief executive of the Philippine Independent Church and is elected every six years without reelection. He is responsible for almost 6 million Aglipayans throughout the Philippines and some dioceses in the United States and Canada as well as the ecclesiastical government of the Church.
O.M. Isabelo de los Reyes Jr. with Anglican Bishops at the National Cathedral.
O.M. Isabelo de los Reyes Jr. with Papal Nuncio and Dr. Jose Yap of NCCP at the Papal Nunciature
The Obispo Máximo is head of the Executive Commission of the Church, the highest Council consisting of clergy and lay people, which works to administer and oversee the Church. His other duties are:
To set the agenda of all meetings of the General Assembly and the Executive Commission
To recommend candidates to fill all vacancies and new positions to the General Assembly or the Executive Commission if the former is not in session
To accept resignations of staff
To decide on leaves of absence for bishops and staff
To approve the retirement of personnel
To enforce the rules and regulations of the Executive Commission for the safekeeping and proper disbursements of funds
To authorize expenses in accordance with the approved budget
To act on recommendations for purchases within the limits set by the budget.
To supervise the clergy and laity in matters of discipline
To exercise such other powers as may be authorized by the General Assembly and Executive Commission and as may be inherent in the position of Chief Executive of the Church.
He shall be the representative and spokesman of the Church with respect to its external affairs; provided, however, that in the case of a stand of the Church on national issues, he shall consult the Executive Commission; and provided, further, that on issues concerning faith and morals, he shall consult the Supreme Council of Bishops. He shall prepare annual reports to the Executive Commission and to the General Assembly,respectively, on the work and activities of the Church. He shall execute and sign on behalf of the Church all contracts, deeds and other instruments necessary for the proper conduct of the business of the Church and in accordance with the stipulations of the Executive Commission or General Assembly. Upon the termination of this incumbency, the Supreme Bishop shall continue to enjoy by honors, privileges and emoluments equal to twice the pension of a bishop; provided, however, that he has not been removed from the office for cause; and provided, further that, if he chooses to serve in another capacity in the Church, he shall choose only one compensation beneficial to him. In case of temporary absence or incapacity of the Supreme Bishop, he shall designate from among the Bishop-members of the Executive Commission one who shall serve as officer-in-charge of the Church during such temporary incapacity or absence. In the event of death or permanent disability of the Supreme Bishop, the senior bishop-member of the Executive Commission, based on the dates of consecration shall automatically act as Officer-in-Charge of the church; provided, however, that if two or more have been simultaneously consecrated, the basis of selection shall be seniority in age; provided, further, that, within two weeks of such death or permanent disability, the Executive Commission shall effect an interim Supreme Bishop from its bishop-members; and provided, still further that, within thirty (30) days of the death or disability, the Executive Commission shall convene the General Assembly for the election of the Supreme Bishop.
He shall exercise general supervision over all business and financial operations of the Church in accordance with the general policies and decisions made by the General Assembly and the Executive Commission.
With the exception of the General Treasurer and the Auditor General, all officers and members of the administrative staff of the Church shall be directly responsible to and under the direction of the Supreme Bishop.
In addition to the foregoing, he shall have the following powers:
To determine and cause to be prepared the agenda of all meetings of the General Assembly and the Executive Commission.
To recommend suitable persons to fill all vacancies and new positions for approval or disapproval of the General Assembly or by the Executive Commission if the former is not in session.
To accept resignation of members of the staff, lay and clerical.
To grant or deny leaves of absence to bishops and to the members of the staff.
To approve the retirement of lay and clerical personnel.
To enforce rules and regulations promulgated and approved by the Executive Commission for the safekeeping and proper disbursements of funds.
To authorize expenses in accordance with the approved budget.
To act on recommendations for purchases of equipment within the limits set in the budget.
To supervise the clergy and laity in matters of discipline.<
To exercise such other powers as may be authorized by the General Assembly and Executive Commission and as may be inherent in the position of Chief Executive of the Church.
- Obispo Máximo Aglipay’s leadership is excellent. For more than 40 years (Paniqui Assembly of 1899 until September 1940), he inspired the Ilocano clergy to become bishops of the IFI all over the Philippines. With the lay people, he helped established parishes and missions.
- Obispo Máximo Gregorio Aglipay charted the course of the nascent Church in an epoch of strong nationalism and critical opposition to US domination. Consequentially, the Church espoused a theology that approached religion in a nationalistic and scientific way. The Church has expressed in its rituals, music, and worship the enduring aspiration of the Filipinos for national democracy. Obispo Máximo Aglipay likewise earned the reputation of cooperating with Filipino socialists and communists in his many political endeavors, and supported peasant uprisings and continuous political resistance to the colonial structure.
- He challenged the established Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Missionary in serving the Filipino people through the nationalist Church. The vilification and discrimination campaigns against the IFI; the demoralization of the early adherents of the IFI because of the Supreme Court decision in 1906 of reverting backed the church buildings and other properties to the Roman Catholic; and, the exodus of the IFI members to the Protestant churches were concrete problems that need firm power and authority. He exercised this authority and might, with the full support of his trusted bishops and lay leaders.
- On March 28, 1931, Bishop Aglipay with Bishops Isabelo de los Reyes, Jr. and Santiago Fonacier left the Philippines for Boston to attend the Annual Convention of the Unitarian Association. The party was feted in almost every large city of America by various local groups of Unitarians. The Unitarian Convention passed resolutions for Philippine Independence and admitted the IFI to the International Association of Liberal Christianity. Bishop Aglipay was also given an honorary degree by Meadville Theological School in Chicago with Doctor of Divinity.
- In his time, the Aglipayan Church was one of the largest religious groups in the Philippines prior to the growth of several sects and religion in the country. The Philippine Independent Church embedded love of country to its members and encouraged them to emulate the lives of our national heroes. He prioritized the interest of the church over and above personal needs. It is an open reality that Obispo Máximo Aglipay at the time of his death, he had no properties of his own that can be preserved as memorabilia.
- "If you say that I founded the IFI, that is a misleading statement, because our church was founded by the Filipino People as a product of thier desire for liberty - religiously, politically, and socially, I was one one of the instruments of its expression."
- “…the Iglesia Filipina Independiente will go on, and neither the Pope nor the Jesuits now and hereafter will be able to impede it…”
- “…beneath their robes, they are Filipinos” , (justifying the participation of the clergy in the activities that spearhead or advocate independence).
- “Ah Liberty! Its worth is understood only when it is lost; it can only be loved in the ‘saddest darkness of prison cells.
A free man is a complete man, dignified, honorable, of lofty sentiments, attended by all his rights and by his unavoidable duties as well; but a man who becomes a slave of his own free will is a man with a vile heart, a deceitful, abject psychopath – a person, in short, deserving of pity.
We are born with the right to think freely and express our thoughts according to the light of reason which the Divinity has given us; we are born with the right to associate freely with those we choose for the purpose of our own perfection and needs; we are born with the right to govern our own persons, our families, home and birthplace; we are born in short, with the right to do freely whatever is our own pleasure so long as we do not violate the liberty and rights of others." - The Sixth and last Fundamental Epistle, August 17, 1903.
- Representative of the First District of Ilocos Norte, 1912.
- Senator for the First Senatorial District of the Philippines, 1919.
- Member of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines.
- Member of the Philippine Independence Mission to the United States.
- Member of the Institute of National Textbook Board.
- Member of the Institute of National Language, appointed by Pres. Manuel L. Quezon.
- Bishop Santiago Fonacier was elected Obispo Máximo by the General Assembly in October 1940, a month after Obispo Máximo Aglipay passed away. He would lead the Church during the four years of Japanese occupation of the country.
- He seceded the IFI in 1955 and founded the Independent Church of Filipino Christians when the court declares Bp. Isabelo delos Reyes Jr. as the legitimate leader of the IFI. On June 26, 1973, a Memorandom of Agreement between the IFI and ICFC was signed by Obispo Máximo Macario V. Ga for IFI and Obispo Máximo Vicente K. Pasetes of ICFC. This signing paved the way for the return of O.M. Santiago Fonacier to the IFI. A solemn mass of reconciliation was held at the National Cathedral on March 24, 1974, culminating the reunification of two churches.
- In the three decades that would follow, under the competent leadership of Bishop Isabelo de los Reyes as the fourth Obispo Máximo (1946-1972), the Church would concentrate on developing and nurturing its institutional life. Bishop de los Reyes strengthened the theological position of the Church.
- He ushered in the forging of concordat relations with various Churches in many countries,first on the list was with the Protestant Episcopal Church of U.S.A. (PECUSA); and sought membership in national and international ecumenical bodies such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Christian Confernce in Asia, the Anglican Communion, and World Council of Churches.
- Obispo Máximo Isabelo de los Jr. took the helm for the construction of the new National Cathedral (the Cathedral of the Holy Infant Jesus along Taft Avenue, Manila) to supplant the Cathedral in Tondo that was destroyed during the War.
Deaconiate: April 10, 1934, Tondo Cathedral,Manila.
Priesthood: May 8, 1934, Tondo Cathedral, Manila.
Episcopate: January 22, Ma. Clara Christ Church, Manila.
Bestowal of Apostolic Succession: September 1, 1948, La Paz, Iloilo.
Elected Obispo Máximo: November 1971.
Re-elected: May 1973, 1977.
Term of Office: 1971-1981
Died: April 7, 2002 in Bacolod City.
- The 1972 General Assembly elected Bishop Macario Ga as the fifth Obispo Máximo (1972-1981). His leadership was challenged by the general political situation in the country during the martial law years. It was a period that witnessed the growing militancy of most of the grass-root oriented clergy and youth who sought to bring new life to the national and democratic heritage of the Church. During this infernal phase of the country’s history, the Church moved towards a progressive stance with regards socio-political issues.
- He rode in the flatform of stabilizing the church financial condition, reconciliation with the separated brethens, Christian Stewardship, and securing ownership of church lots and properties.
- During his term, a fund raising campaign was initiated for the building of Aglipay national Shrine in Batac, Ilocos Norte. President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos attended the inauguration as the Principal Sponsor, held on September 1977.
- He also accepted the return into the IFI the Philippine Unitarian Church (PUC) headed by Camilo V. Gruspe in a fitting ceremony held at Urdaneta, Pangasinan. PUC was an IFI splinter founded by Msgr. Pedro Aglipay on September 4, 1955; who later organized another church, the Christ Jesus Holy Church in 1958.
- The adoption of a new Constitution and Canons in 1977 marked another important milestone in the institutional life of the Church. It opened the doors for the empowerment of lay people and greater participation in the governance of the Church. It strengthened the institutional foundation of the life and work of the Church with the implementation of various programs on education and skill enhancement, stewardship and resource generation and organizational consolidation.
- During his term, two Regional Seminaries were opened in June 1980, these were the IFI Theological Seminary (presently Aglipay Central Theological Seminary) at Urdaneta, Pangasinan; and the IFI Regional Seminary at La Paz, Iloilo (presently St. Paul Theological Seminary in Guimaras).
- He, with his supporters refused to concede to his defeat during the May 1981 election and formed a new church, they illegally registered Iglesia Catolica Filipina Independiente (ICFI), another legal name of the IFI. This new church sapped the strength of the church as it infused confusion and division among Aglipayan faithful.
- In February 4, 1994 he voluntary return to IFI, his reconciliation led to the signing of the memorandum of Agreement thus paving the way for the mass return of many faithful and clergy in Ilocos Norte and Cotabato Areas.
Diaconate: April 12, 1916, Ma. Clara Christ Church, Manila.
Priesthood: May 6, 1956,Parish of Our Lady of Peace, La Paz, Iloilo.
Episcopate: June 29, 1964, Parish of Our Lady of Peace, La Paz, Iloilo.
Elected Obispo Máximo: May 1981, National Cathedral, Manila.
Term of Office: 1981-1987
- The first General Assembly under the 1977 Constitution and Canons was held on May 1981 at the National Cathedral. The Most Reverend Abdias de la Cruz was elected as the sixth Obispo Máximo. His administration would however be beset with the problem of separation led by former Obispo Máximo Ga who refused to concede to his defeat and formed the Iglesia Catolica Filipina Independiente (ICFI).
- In his term, the Missionary Diocese of United States and Canada was created in 1982. This was the first ever diocese of the Filipino Church outside the Philippines. It was presently named Diocese of United States of America and Canada (USACADIOS).
- He was presently serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Aklan and Capiz.
Diaconate: 1953,Parish of Immaculate Concepcion, Batac, Ilocos,Norte.
Priesthood: 1954, Church of Heroes and martyrs, Sampaloc, Manila.
Episcopate: May 8, 1969,National Cathedral, Manila.
Elected Obispo Máximo: May 1987, Bacoor, Cavite.
Term of Office: 1987-1989
Died: May 19, 1989, Manila.
Also known as:
- The First Dean of the National Cathedral.
- A progressive and perceptive impulse for the Church to become a socially and politically relevant institution became evident in the election of Bishop Soliman Ganno as Obispo Máximo on May 8, 1987.
- During his term, the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) published two consecutive pastoral letters in May 1988 (Our Heritage, Our Response) and 1989 (Witnessing: Sharing in the Pilgrimage) respectively that contain an articulation and elucidation of the nationalist heritage of the Church. In the two pastoral letters, the Church also reiterated its advocacy to the people's agenda, support to nationalist industrialization and genuine land reform, and boldly condemned foreign intervention in the political governance of the country.
- It was during Bishop Ganno's term that the Statement on Development was issued on July 30, 1987. The statement laid down the agenda of the church for renewal on the various aspects of its organizational and institutional life. The statement likewise reflected the continuous and conscious effort of Aglipayans to recapture the church's historical heritage by offering herself to witness for and in behalf of the people who were socially and politically marginalized by the system, and to work for the integral transformation of society. However, Bishop Ganno did live come to witness the fruits of this labor as he passed away on May 26, 1989 after two years of fruitful leadership when he had a heart failure one early morning at the altar of the National Cathedral.
- A.B. Political Science,University of Iloilo, 1964.
- M.Div., SATS, 1990.
- M.A. History, U.P., 1967.
Diaconate: March 21, 1957, Ma. Clara Christ Church, Manila.
Priesthood: May 24, 1957,Parish of Our Lady of Peace, La Paz, Iloilo.
Episcopate: March 31, 1964, Parish of Our Lady of Peace, La Paz, Iloilo.
Elected Obispo Máximo: June 1989, National cathedral, Manila.
Term of Office: 1989-1993
- The Special General Assembly that was convened on June 1989 elected Obispo Máximo Tito Pasco to serve the unfinished term of the late Obispo Máximo Ganno. Obispo Máximo Pasco pursued the agenda set forth by his predecessor and initiated concrete programs towards the organizational development of the Church.
- He authored the Three-Year Vision Program and launched in October 1990 which was aimed to enhance stewardship and education in the Church. In 1992, he led the launching of the Comprehensive National Program (CNP) of the Church which was meant to build up effective organizational structures and institute processes that would facilitate the various program concerns of the Church.
- He supported, together with the NPO, the hunger-striking teachers camping at the National Cathedral in 1991. The church admonished the Aquino Government to reinstate the teachers and compensate their salaries and benefits. (This hunger-strike event was featured in the movie Mila starring Maricel Soriano.)
- Bishop Pasco led the Church in launching the Centennial Decade Celebration at the Folk Arts Theater on August 3, 1992 to mark the beginning of a ten-year celebration prior to the centennial anniversary of the Church on 2002. It was in the same occasion that the Decade Agenda was presented to the people of the IFI. The succeeding celebrations were held at in Ilocos Norte (1993), Cagayan de Oro (1994), Iloilo City (1995), Cavite City (1996), Rosales, Pangasinan, (1997), Oroquieta (1998), Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte (1999), and Dumaguete (2000). The 99th year anniversary celebration was celebrated in the local dioceses.
- He served as Bishop of the Diocese of Romblon and Mindoro until his retirement.
Diaconate: April 8, 1958, Ma. Clara Christ church, Manila.
Priesthood: April 28, 1958, Ma. Clara Christ church, Manila.
Episcopate: May 1969, National Cathedral, Manila.
Elected Obispo Máximo: May 1993, Trinity College, Quezon City.
Doctor of Divinity: General Theological Seminary, New York,USA.
Term of Office: 1993-1999.
Died: October 3, 2007, Tarlac.
Also known as:
- Member of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Peace Process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
- ”Bishop of the Poor, Peasants, and Oppressed”.
- One of the Martyrs of IFI with commemoration day of October 3 on the church’s lectionary.
- Most Reverend Alberto Ramento was elected as the ninth Obispo Máximo during the May 1993 General Assembly. He embarked on an intensified campaign for stewardship and further empowerment of the laity. He strengthened the capability of the Church in facilitating the national program with the creation of various commissions in the Central Office.
- He was an instrument in releasing many prisoners of war held by the revolutionary movements.
- He led the Church to an increasing awareness of its prophetic role in the establishment of a just society. He was recognized as peacemaker and endorsed as member of the joint monitoring committee on the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
- It was during his term that the concordat between the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the Church of Sweden was signed in 1995.
- He served as Bishop of the Diocese of Tarlac.
- He wes elected and served as the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Bishops.
- Being an anti-government critic in 2007 and an active campaigner against Human Rights Violation in the Philippines, he was brutally murdered while sleeping in his humble convent in Tarlac last October 3, 2007.
- “I know they are going to kill me next. But never will I abandon my duty to God and my ministry for the people”.
Diaconate: April 16, 1970, SATS Chapel, Quezon City.
Priesthood: April 19, 1970, National Cathedral, Manila
Episcopate: March 6, 1962, Parish of St. Michael Archangel and All Angels, Culasi,Antique.
Elected Obispo Máximo: May 1999, YMCA Hotel, Manila.
Doctor of Divinity: Seabury Western Theological Seminary, Illinois, USA, 2002.
Term of Office: 1999-2005.
Also known as:
- The ”Centenary Obispo Máximo”.
- Member of GRP-NDFP Negotianing Panel for Peace Talks, Oslo, Norway.
- The May 1999 General Assembly elected Bishop Tomas Millamena as the tenth Obispo Máximo. His centerpiece program is embodied in the Ten Year Strategic Plan of the Church that was approved in 2002. Obispo Máximo Millamena worked towards the strengthening of Church leadership bodies through an intensified education campaign. Episcopal study-conferences, regional clergy convocations, and lay congresses were held to consolidate the different strata of leadership in the Church. He likewise pursued the implementation of important policies that would correspond to financial and property management.
- Obispo Máximo Millamena held the apostolic staff in leading the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in celebrating its centenary in August 2 & 3, 2002 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila.
- He was presently serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Laguna.
- The Most Reverend Godofredo David was elected by the May 2005 General Assembly as eleventh Obispo Máximo. He continued pursuing the programmatic designs of the Ten Year Strategic Plan and focused on human resource development, church workers benefit, and property consolidation as his centerpiece program. Cooperation among local churches was likewise further developed through the strengthening of regional structures and stronger ecumenical partnership reinforced the Church’s pro-development advocacy during his leadership.
- The extrajudicial killing of the Most Reverend Alberto Ramento in 2006 has led his administration toward a more pro-active engagement with justice and peace, and human rights issues. At the end of Bishop David’s term, a more solid base warranting the further institutional development of the Church has been put up with the proper management and maximization of the Church’s human, financial and material resources.
- He was presently serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Rizal and Pampanga.
Doctor of Divinity: November 30, 2011, SATS, Quezon City.
Term of Office: 2011–present (incumbent).
- Delegates to the 12th Triennial General Assembly of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente voted unanimously into office as Obispo Máximo the former General Secretary, the Rt. Rev. Ephraim S. Fajutagana, on 10th May 2011. Bishop Fajutagana, from the Diocese of Romblon and Mindoros, bested two aspirants from Mindanao, Bishop Rhee Timbang (Diocese of Surigao) and Bishop Felixberto Calang (Diocese of Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon and Camiguin). Supreme Bishop Fajutagana has been in ministry since 1977, having served the Iglesia Filipina Independiente for a total of some thirty four (34) years before his election to the highest office of the Church. He was ordained to the priesthood the same year after graduating from Saint Andrew’s Theological Seminary where he obtained his Bachelor of Theology degree. Bishop Fajutagana was consecrated to the episcopate in July 2002 and served the Diocese of Cavite as Diocesan Bishop until his election as General Secretary in May 2005.