On October 10, 2015, Saturday, Fr. Aristotle Dy, Xavier School President, launched his book Chinese Buddhism in Catholic Philippines: Syncretism as Identity with a talk regarding the book’s subject matter, syncretism or the simultaneous practice of elements from more than one religion and what it means to practice Chinese Buddhism in a predominantly Catholic country.
The event started with a talk by Fr. Ari at 8:30 AM, which ended by 11:30 AM, attended by approximately 150 people, including Xavier School staff. In the talk, Fr. Ari related to the audience how he was exposed to Chinese Buddhism at a young age. He was curious about Chinese Buddhism in the Philippines and so it was the subject of his PhD dissertation. He talked at length about religion and Chinese identity, the presence of Chinese Buddhism in the country, Buddhism as a Chinese religion, syncretism as identity, and the sociocultural dimensions of syncretism. He also talked about religious adaptations that people who practice elements from two different religions carry out.
After the talk, Fr. Ari answered questions and listened to commentary from a very engaged crowd. People from the audience expressed their concern that they have struggled as well in the act of practicing elements from both religions. For some, it was not a problem, and they gave commentary on how practicing both has enriched their lives. Another concern among the audience was whether it was against the First Commandment to practice both Buddhism and Catholicism at the same time. Fr. Ari clarified that the Buddha never claimed to be God and that many rituals were developed after the time of the Buddha which tended to deify him.
After the Q&A, there was a book signing and picture-taking with Fr. Ari. The book Chinese Buddhism in Catholic Philippines: Syncretism as Identity is available at National Bookstore and at Xavier School for Php500.