HISTORY OF THE UUCP
To teach the hope that is for all, proclaim the universal call!
THE LIFE OF TORIBIO QUIMADA
The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines was started by an energetic lay preacher in the name of Toribio S. Quimada. He was born on April 27, 1917 to Mr. Zoilo Quimada and Juliana Sabandija, second child of thirteen siblings. He grew up in a Roman Catholic tradition where he longed to read the Holy Bible, which was prohibited by his church. In 1935, an economic crisis struck in the Province of Cebu which prompted Zoilo Quimada and his family to move to Nataban, San Carlos City, Negro Occidental the following year. At this time, Toribio was newly married to Sergia Talandron. While in Nataban, both were very active in church activities of the Iglesia Universal de Cristo which Toribio later served as a circuit minister to nine congregations for sometime.
Along with the progress of this ministerial work was his quest for religious materials like the Bible, hymnbooks and religious education supplies. One day, he came across an article listing all the Christian churches in America and he immediately looked for Iglesia Universal de Cristo, but to his dismay he couldn't find one. Instead he found the Universalist Church of Wisconsin and the Universalist Church of Gloucester. In the hope to create linkages he wrote to the Universalist Church in Wisconsin and Universalist Church of Gloucester.
The question for religious education materials
On March 28, 1952, Torbibio Quimada was very glad to receive the response from the Universalist Church of Gloucester telling him how surprised they were of an inquiry about a Universalist faith from a far away place, the Philippines, and he was told that his letter was referred to Rev. Carleton Fisher, Executive Director of the Universalist Church in America. Eventually, Rev. Quimada received books from the Universalist Church in America.
Rev. Quimada's need for religious education materials were supplied by the Unviersalist Church in America. Here, he taught that God is a loving God and not an angry god, that salvation is for all ad not only to be the chosen ones, and that God is not capable of creating a place called hell where judged people suffer forever.
Rev. Quimada's teachings, the continued exchange of communication and receiving of religious education materials led to his excommunication and expulsion from the Iglesia Universal de Cristo in 1954. Sympathetic to him were his congregations for which he served for sometime, and they became the early congregations of the Universalist Church of the Philippines (UCP).
The start of a growing faith in the Philippines
Although Toribio was excommunicated, he saw this an an opportunity to sow the seeds of Universalism in the Philippines. With the assurance of support from the Universalist Church in America, and the support of the nine congregations, on April 25, 1955, Rev. Toribio S. Quimada created the Universalist Church of the Philippiens and have it registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippine government. April 1955 was the first convention of the Universalist Church of the Philippines in Nataban. From then onwards, each convention usually ended with his birthday celebration.
As part of the support from the Universalist Church of America, Rev. Toshio Yoshioka, a Japanese minister, was sent to teh Philippines. He was the first Universalist foreign minister to observe Rev. Quimada's leadership. Rev. Yoshioka did a lot of teachings about Universalism in different congregarions and also made some church / home visits in his seven days stay with Rev. Quimada and recommendations were reprot to Rev. Dana E. Klotzle who was then the Executive Director of the Universalist Service Committee. As part of his report quoted from Rev. Frederic John Muir's book "Maglipay Universalist" stated that "More than 90% of the people of the Philippines are Catholic.
There are some Protestants, but they are strictly orthodox, strongly conditioned with the fear that because of Adam's fall they will go to hell after death. Thus, Mr. Quimada and his people were suprised and relieved by the Universalist teaching of universal salvation and the idea of a loving God rather than an angry god. In fact I was asked time and time again if they could really be saved, and as to what Unviersalism taught about Jesus (God or Man) and about the Bible. It seems to me that they are recapitulating the same experiences of the very early Universalists. They may be far behind the modern movement in Universalism, but they are on the right track of the history of the Universalist Church."
Rev Quimada shared the message on the hope and love to people with different walks in life. Together with his horse, a microphone and an old amplifier with a speaker (trumpa) he preached in public places during market days where there were a lot of people. One of teh villages was Barangay Quezon, San Carlos City. Being engaged in religious discussion cannot be avoided as this is the first time people heard a different kind of belief, a constrasting belief.
The quest for education
In 1958, Toribio Quimada was sent to school, based on the recommendatio of Rev. Toshioka (Mur, 2001), as a special student taking up Bachelor of Theology program in Silliman University. He was considered a special student because he had no high school education. Sadly, he did not pass the school requirement regarding the grade average so he continued to study his last two years in high school. After graduation, his family then moved to Dumaguete City where he went to Foundation University for his college education major in elementary education. He then finished his degree in 1965.
On August 23, 1964, Rev. Toribio Quimada took his first plane ride to meet Rev. Richard Boeke in Manila. In 1965, Rev. Robert Swain came to visit, and Rev. Quimada brought him to Nataban, San Carlos City where the annual convention was held. Later, he also met Dr. Dana Maclean Greely, Dr. Charles Vickery and Dr. Max Gaebler.
The start of a faith in action
After Rev. Toribio Quimada finished his college education, he and his family decided not to go back in Nataban for the reason that the place was so far and the only means of transportation was on foot and horseback riding. At that time, the church had already acquired printing materials and equipments. Rev. Quimada looked for a farmland to purchase and so the Nagbinlod land was bought. This was now the home as the national office of the Universalist Church of the Philippines.
The ministry in Nagbinlod need to put faith in action. He started to help neighbors solve their land related problems. He was known to help people in Nagbinlod village. In fact his house, where the national office was, became a place of refuge for neighbors as well as people passing by.
The merging of the Universalist Church of America (UCA) and the American Unitarian Association (AUA) creating the Unitarian Universalist Association (AUA) creating the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961 resulted in Rev. Toribio Quimada receiving communications and materials addressed to teh "Unitarian" Universalist Church of the Philippines. This created confusion at the post office which result in the renaming of the Universalist Church of the Philippines to the name we know today, the "Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines". The new name was registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1985.
The International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) accepted UCP's membership in 1972. Since then, IARF, representatives, including Rev. Deither Gerhman and wife Dorle, Lucie Meijer and Frauke Smidth visited the Philippines. Because of the religious works of Rev. Quimada he was awarded the "Albert Schweitzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of LIberal Religion" during the 1984 IARF Congress in Japan. The same award was also gien to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the 33rd congress in India last 2010.
The Tragic Incident
In the hope to become a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Rev. Quimada sent an application for membership. In response, Rev. Richard Boeke followed by Rev. Melvin Hoover were sent to teh Philippines to gather information and made recommendations to the UUA about UUs in this part of the world. In June 1988, Rev. Quimada was scheduled to attend the UUA General Assembly in Palm Springs, California for the probable acceptance of the UUCP as a member congregation of the UUA, an event he was patiently waiting for. Instead, Rev. Quimada met his horrible death on May 23, He was shot to death after finishing his prayer and was burned with all church materials and equipment. His horse, too, was shot, this horse has been very helpful in his travel to the mountains, conducting baptisms and other church related activities. Motive of his killing is still unknown but speculations led to assume that it was related to his social justice ministry in behalf of the poor farmers.
On behalf of Rev. Quimada, Rev. Perfecto Sienes and Rev. Rebecca Quimada-Sienes (not ordained during this time) were sent to the UUA General Assembly in Palm Springs, California. During that assembly the UUA finally accepted the UUCP as one of its member congregations in Jue 19, 1988. Happy but sad were the ringing words of the two delegates - during their short speeches at the Assembly in response to the acceptance which should have been made by Rev. Quimada.
In spite of the tragic death of the founder, Rev. Toribio S. Quimada, the UU Church of the Philippines continued its mission as a church through its ordained lay ministers. Rev. Quimada ordained many ministers from different places in Negros. His pioneer ministers include Rev. Hospicio Condez, Sr., Rev. Isabelo Quimada, Rev. Pedro Himuta. These minsters scattered all over Negros Island preaching the good message of Unitarian Universalism to the people. From then on Unitarian Universalism continued to grow into the church we now know today.