CBCP donates microfilm copies of canonical books containing Catholic faithful records from 17th-20th centuries

On March 28, 2023, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, headed by its President, the Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, DD, turned over four centuries’ worth of microfilm copies of the records of the Catholic faithful, specifically their baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death. These copies were received by the University, led by the Rector, the Very Rev. fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., PhD.

The records for these sacraments and/or events were based on administration of the same in the different parishes all over the country, from the early 1600s to the first decades of the 20th century. The records, found in meticulously written canonical books, were produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CJCLDS), who donated a bulk of the same to then-CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles, D.D. in 2019.

In his message, CBCP President David thanked the University “for serving as guardians of these important documents—microfilm form of the same documents.” David recalled how the Latter-day Saints worked with Catholic bishops in producing the records, and how encouraging it is that despite the changes in media technology, “the old can always be transferred to the new one.” Ultimately, the transfer of the documents to UST, David said, will “make the data more readily available for research work.”

The Rector expressed gratitude to the CBCP, saying: “Malaking bagay po ito na ipinagkatiwala sa amin ng CBCP. Parati kaming handang tumulong sa pangangailangan ng CBCP.”

UST was designated as the recipient given the fact that it maintains one of oldest existing archives in the country, the Archivo dela Universidad de Santo Tomas, whose “priorities are the selection, preservation, and accessibility for research of historical materials.” Per the Deed of Donation signed on March 28, UST will ensure that the materials will be placed in an environmentally controlled space that ensures the proper handling and use of the digital files. It will also provide access to the contents to researchers, including graduate students, professors, genealogists, journalists, and other academics while complying with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act.

Witnessing the donation were Msgr. Bernardo R. Pantin (CBCP Secretary-General), Fr. Bryand Restituto (CBCP Assistant Secretary-General), Rev. fr. Gaspar R. Sigaya, O.P. (Archivist of AUST), and Rev. fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P. (Assistant Archivist of AUST).

Photos by Hans Lawrence Malgapu.