Anything under the Sun
Fray Martin de Rada, Apostle of Panay
The first missionary to set foot in Panay was Fray Martin de Rada of the Order of San Agustin. He was Capt. Luis de Haya who landed at Araut (now Dumangas) in 1566 from Cebu upon the instructions of first Gov. Gen. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to look for food.
Later in the same year, accompanied by Fray Francisco de Orteza, he returned to Panay for good landing at Ogtong (now Oton), where in 1572, he established the first parish in West Visayas. In Oton, he built the first church in the country dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
On May 3, 1572, he was made the first Augustinian provincial superior in the Philippines with motherhouse at Oton convent. At that time, there were five Augustinian missions in the colony–Oton, Cebu, Manila, and Tondo.
Fray Rada was a staunch defender of the natives against the Spanish abuses. He sent Fray Hettera to the King of Spain:
1. to inform the King of the situation and progress in the islands as requested by first governor general Legazpi
2. to report on their religious affairs before the King especially regarding the development of Christianity and the recruitment of more missionaries and to ask permission to enter China.
The king of Spain responded by issuing Royal Cedula on November 7, 1574, providing:
1. an order that not a single Spaniard can have natives for slaves.
2. an order to the Augustinian missionaries to the correct abuses and bad habits of the Spaniards
3. to build monasteries in the islands
4. for the Royal Officials to participate in the limosna of wine, oil and wax
5. to construct hospitals for the Spaniards and the natives.
6. permission for the Augustinian to enter China.
On June 1575, Fray Rada with Fray Merino entered China as ambassadors of Spain. He is often called “Apostle of Panay” because of his persistent promotion of the teaching of the Catholic Catechism to the natives of the island.
He was also credited with planning of the poblacion of Oton particularly, its streets. On June 1378, he died at sea while returning to Panay from Borneo.*