9 Years of Incorporating our Faith into Action

It’s already been 9 years since we register Luntiang Aghama Natural Divine Arts Shrine of Healing Inc. as a Religious Corporation Sole in the Philippines. And from that time we have enjoyed so much freedom that we have reached this time of our existence. Our registration to the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission have given us to become a Juridical Personality.

What does Juridical Personality means?

Certificate of Incorporation issued on September 4, 2012

Juridical Personality means that Luntiang Aghama (which is our organization) is recognized as a legal entity having distinct identity (which is a religious organization), legal personality, and duties and rights. In short, Luntiang Aghama as a religious organization in the Philippines may also enjoy the same rights as stated in the Philippines Constitution like the Citizens of the Republic of the Philippines are enjoying as an individual. So our Certificate of Incorporation serves as our Birth Certificate of existence in the Philippines.

Unlike other form of corporation, Luntiang Aghama as a Religious Corporation Sole as no Expiration Date. It means that as we register our Organization, it will perpetually exist unless we file a resolution of dissolution or in short we make a legal letter stating that we stop operating as a Religious Corporation Sole and end our existence as Luntiang Aghama.

In the previous week before posting this article, I being your Chief Priest, is contemplating if I will going to file an Amendment to our Article of Incorporation and change our status as a Religious Corporation Sole into a Religious Aggregate or Society,

What are differences between Religious Corporation Sole to a Religious Aggregate or Society?

As Per SEC Guidelines and Frequently asked Question that can be found in their website, Religious Corporation Sole is created by only one Person and that person who creates it become its trustee; while the Religious Society must be created by at least 5 persons and not more than 15 persons.

As per Revised Corporation Code statement in Title 13 Chapter 2 in section 108 have stated that a Religious Corporation Sole is created for the purpose of administering and managing, as trustee, the affairs, property and temporalities of any religious denomination, sect or church; and it is formed by the Chief Archbishop, Bishop, Priest, Minister, Rabbi, or other presiding elder of such religious denomination, sect or church.

Whereas the Religious Society as stated in Section 114 of Title 13 Chapter 2 of the Revised Corporation Code states that: Unless forbidden by the competent authority, the Constitution, pertinent rules, regulations, or discipline of the religious denomination, sect or church may upon written consent and/or by an affirmative vote at a meeting called for the purpose of at least 2/3rd of its membership, incorporation for the administration of its temporalities or for the management of its affairs, properties and estate by filling with the Commission, Articles of Incorporation verified by the Affidavit of the presiding elder, secretary, clerk or other member of such religious society or religious order, or diocese, synod, or district organization of the religious denomination,sect or church, setting forth the following:

  1. that the religious society or religious order, or diocese, synod or district organization is a religious organization of a religious denomination, sect or church;
  2. that at least 2/3rd of its membership has given written consent or has voted to incorporate at a duly convened meeting of the body;
  3. that the incorporation of the religious society or religious order, or diocese, synod or district organization is not forbidden by competent authority or by the constitution, rules, regulations or discipline or the religious denomination, sect or church of which it forms part;
  4. that the religious society or religious order, or diocese, synod or district organization desires to incorporate for the administration of its affairs, property and estate;
  5. that the place within the Philippines where the principal office of the corporation is to be established and located;
  6. the names, nationalities, and residence addresses of the trustees, not less than 5 nor more than 15; elected by the religious society or religious order, or the diocese, synod or district organization to serve for the first year or such other period as may be prescribed by the laws of the religious society or religious order, diocese, synod or district organization.

So in short, the Incorporation of a Religious Organization only matters on the mundane affair of the Church since we are still living here on the Mundane Plane of Existence. In Religious Corporation Sole, it is only the Chief Priest who is responsible in dealing with the Mundane as well as the Spiritual Aspect of the Organization; whereas the Religious Society can share responsibilities in handling the affairs of the Church. But when it comes to decision making, the Religious Corporation Sole can make it alone, while the Religious Society needs consensus from the 2/3rd of their membership in their church.

Does Certificate of Incorporation necessary in establishing a new church in the Philippines?

In Article 3 Section 5 of The 1987 Philippine Constitution states that:

“No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

So as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it says in Article 18, that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

United Nation

With these, anyone can practice their faith as it is secured not only by Philippine Constitution but also the the United Nations. The only reason why we need to have a Certificate of Incorporation for our Church is when we make transaction that may affect our affair with the mundane world. Such as when we Officiate Marriage Vows. As a Priest, we need to secure Authority to Solemnize Marriage Vow to the Philippine Statistic Office, other than that I know no more.

The laws of the land should be obeyed whenever possible and within reason, for in the main they have been chosen with wisdom.

The Witches Rede of Chivalry from Magical Rites of the Crystal Well authored by Edward Fitch

When i started my Journey to the craft, I first learn about the Wiccan Rede then I have found this Witches Rede of Chivalry that also becomes my foundation in the practice of the Craft. Years ago when just registered the Shrine, i received reports that there are practitioners of the craft that uses endangered animals in their rituals, though I admit to them that the Authority that I have is only limited to the Members of Luntiang Aghama, but i have advised them to proper authority. Since that case was brought to me, I help them address the Issue to the Bureau of Animal Industry.

The Philippine Government has a law that correspond to that which is the Republic Act 8485 and in Section 6 that states:

It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.

The killing of any animal other than cattle pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles is likewise hereby declared unlawful except in the following instances:

(1) When it is done as part of the religious rituals of an established religion or sect or a ritual required by tribal or ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities; however, leaders shall keep records in cooperation with the Committee on Animal Welfare;

(2) When the pet animal is afflicted with an incurable communicable disease as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarian;

(3) When the killing is deemed necessary to put an end to the misery suffered by the animal as determined and certified by a duly licensed veterinarian;

(4) When it is done to prevent an imminent danger to the life or limb of a human being;

(5) When done for the purpose of animal population control;

(6) When the animal is killed after it has been used in authorized research or experiments; and

(7) Any other ground analogous to the foregoing as determined and certified licensed veterinarian.

In all the above mentioned cases, including those of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles the killing of the animals shall be done through humane procedures at all times.

For this purpose, humane procedures shall mean the use of the most scientific methods available as may be determined and approved by the committee.

Only those procedures approved by the Committee shall be used in the killing of animals.

There is also an Administrative Order from the Philippine Department of Agriculture that Regulates the Use of Animals during Religious Rituals which you can see here.

According to this Administrative Order, the killings of other animals other than cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabao, horses, deer and crocodiles are unlawful except when it is done as part of the religious rituals of an established religion or sect, or a ritual required by a tribal or ethnic custom of indigenous cultural communities. So here, in using animal as ritual sacrifice, it has a condition that if you are an established religion or sect or you are part of the indigenous cultural community. Aside from that it also requires the ritual leader to cooperate with the committee on animal welfare where you will conduct the ritual for the sake of record keeping purpose.

In Luntiang Aghama, we limit the practice of Animal Sacrifice in conducting special ritual such as in Baby Naming Ceremony, Bayanihan or Land Clearing and Dedication for establishment of new house, Sambuklod Ritual and Pauwi Ritual.

The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines

This year, I have seen in Tiktok a case that forbids the practice of Fortune Telling in the Philippines. Watch this:

In this video it tells about the case of Rudy Baldwin who uses her ability being a Psychic to deceive people and asking a large amount of money. Through this I searched for the law that been mentioned by the lawyer that can be found on the Revised Penal Code Article 318 that states:

Art. 318. Other deceits. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter.chanrobles virtual law library

Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

But on 2017, this law was updated through the Republic Act 10951 and in Section 86 it states that:

Section 86. Article 318 of the same Act is hereby amended to read as follows:

“Art. 318. Other deceits. – The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this Chapter.

“Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding Forty thousand pesos (₱40,000).”

The penalty was only updated from Php 200.00 to now Php 40,000.00.

So does that mean that Fortune Telling is a Crime that is punishable with an Arresto Mayor and a fine of Forty Thousand Pesos?

Well as I understand it, the one that being punished here is the act of deceit and not the act of fortune telling. The law have described when a person take advantage of the credulity of the public through interpreting dreams, make forecast, tell fortunes and made profit and gain by doing so are the ones that being punished according to the law.

I spend more time in understanding this law, because I could not agree that Fortune Telling is a Crime because it is part of the teaching and practice of the Shrine to tell fortune. Fortune Telling is a practice of most ancient religion. But through my understanding, I focus on the word credulity in this case.

Credulity means a tendency of the person to be too ready to believe that something is real or true. But this happens even in the Church. When a Priest would speak, there will be someone who will believe that priest or pastor or minister.

In our ancient Culture there are Katalonans (of the tagalog tribes) which according to our history says:

The catalonas performed public ceremonies for community prosperity,fertility, or seasonable weather as well as
private services to diagnose and cure ailments…

As spirit mediums, they conducted séances during which they spoke with the voice of spirits (anito), assisted by an alagar (alagad, personal attendant) to carry on the dialogue with the supernatural, or sent their own kaluluwa (soul).

So the role of the Katalonas are pertaining to the practice of Fortune Telling. And during those time as written by Luciano P.R. Santiago in his book To Love and to suffer:

…as remuneration for their services they received a good part of the offerings of food, wine, clothing, and gold, the quality and quantity of which depended on the social status of the supplicant. Thus, the catalonas filled a very prestigious as well as lucrative role in society.

Luciano P.R. Santiago from the Book: To Love and to Suffer

And as I continue my search, I am wondering why the Department of Trade and Industry to allow an Individual to register a Business Name under the category of Tarot Reading Services.

So this may give us confusion, no one makes a business and does not make any profit from it. But through this action it means that the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry directly contradict the Revised Penal Code and the Republic Act 10951 section 86 regarding Fortune Telling.

Though I am comfortable with what I have thought a while ago that the one that being punished is the act of deceit and not the act of fortune telling, but i still have doubt since I am not an expert about the law and a lawyer. But just in case, as the Chief Priest of this Shrine, I must act out to find a solution in this problem.

As I notice regarding this Penal Code, this is a Law not made by Filipino but it was only an inherited law on 1930 during the time of the American Occupation from the Royal Decree of Spain in 1870 that the Spanish Penal Code has been applied to the Philippines. Since that is the period of Colonization, we know that during that time, the Spanish Colonizers intends to change the people by introducing Catholicism in the Philippine that they demonize the ancient religion of our ancestors so as our practices.

Our Road to Decade

This year, I am making goal to talk to someone and make appeal that this law be amended or clarified that it endangers the practitioner of the craft in our country. Witch Hunting and terrorizing the indigenous and minority religion must be stop, and we can do that by making a stand and we hold hands together in praying for Peace. Let us include this to our daily prayer intention that our Spiritual practices as Luntiang Aghama and Correllian be accepted fully in the world.

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