the Revolution of 1898 and succeeding events: A retrospect of the Man
Paulix B. Robosa
Msgr. Jorge Imperial Barlin
The first Filipino Bishop
The figure stands unique in the maelstrom that was the Philippine Revolution. To an informed few, history confirms his significance to the events and personalities of the period, but to the majority, however, he remains obscure and little known.
After one-hundred years, there is still much to be uncovered about him and his life of 59 years. Aside from a biography culled from mostly secondary sources, his name and writings appear sporadically on works that deal with the religious side of the Philippine Revolution. Even these same works declare that very little is known about him.
little known past
A ready assessment of Barlin's significance as historical figure is that of an obscure folk hero who earned a footnote in history for becoming the "First" among his people. The most comprehensive material one can find on Barlin reads like a calendar of events at worst, and a testimonial at best.
The events and the achievements neatly enumerated but are as dry and as lifeless as if a human being did not exist. In light of present historical writings in which local biographies and local histories are viewed as the basis for the creation of a National History, the present materials on Barlin should significantly improve for it to be worth the endeavor.
"Who is Barlin?" is the perennial question asked again and again. The most obvious is the oft-repeated answer, "He was the first Filipino Bishop."
I have the suspicion that this title, actually make him uninteresting, and to a certain degree, even limit the achievements of the man. Aside from the fact that he is the first native or Indio to be elevated to the third and highest rank of the Roman Catholic Priesthood, Barlin was also the only native prelate to be elevated to the Episcopal throne upon the recommendation of a foreign papal delegate.