The Senate approved a proposed measure that seeks to declare the second Thursday of January of every year a special working holiday to be known as “National Baptist Day.” For Senator Win Gatchalian, co-author and sponsor of the measure, this is a recognition of the Philippine Baptists’ contribution to nation-building.
In sponsoring Senate Bill No. 2252, Gatchalian lauded Baptist churches for upholding academic and moral excellence by establishing Christian schools. Baptist churches nationwide run 1,200 schools from pre-school to high school.
“The Baptists have distinguished themselves for their involvement in our communities by building schools and hospitals and by giving much-needed aid to communities struck by calamities,” Gatchalian said during his sponsorship of the measure.
“In the spirit of expressing solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ from Baptist churches, and to honor their invaluable contribution to our society and way of life, I join our colleagues in voting for this measure’s approval on third and final reading,” the lawmaker said.
Gatchalian pointed out that since the proposed measure seeks to create a special working holiday, it would have no implications on wage rates.
The first Baptist church in the Philippines, the Jaro Evangelical Church, was founded in 1900 in Iloilo City. The city is also home to the Central Philippine University, a Baptist university founded in 1905. In January 2020, the Philippine Baptists celebrated 120 years of ministerial existence in the country.
According to Bishop Reuben Abante of the Bible Believers League for Morality and Democracy (BIBLEMODE) there are about 25,000 to 30,000 Baptist churches in the country. Assuming each has 100 members on average, there are 2.5 to 3 million Baptists nationwide. Membership data from the World Baptist Alliance show that there are 1,784 Baptist churches in the Philippines with at least 653,000 members.
Gatchalian also pointed out the role of the Baptists in promoting principles such as religious freedom and the separation of Church and State, which are enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Philippines’ own 1987 Constitution.