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Philippines Pastor Serves Indigenous Community

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The Philippines is made up of over 7600 islands with people from multiple ethnicities and cultures. In remote areas, indigenous Filipinos have been able to preserve cultural heritage. Residents in these mountainous regions live off the land in some of the poorest and least privileged communities in all of the Philippines. The Rev. Frankie Ortilano Cayaban hikes for hours each week, to bring the United Methodist Church to those who live in these remote areas.


The Rev. Frankie Ortilano Cayaban’s parish is God’s country. The scenic mountains of Kayapa Nueva, Vizcaya in the Philippines are home to native Filipinos who still live off the land.

Cayaban is a modern day United Methodist circuit rider on foot, carrying a camera and tripod to document his ministry.

The humble pastor’s saddlebag (made by a church member) is a traditional, hand woven backpack worn by indigenous people of the Philippines

Cayaban is based at Macdu United Methodist Church but his circuit includes five churches.

The pastor hikes 2 ½ hours on some Sundays to reach the most remote congregations.

On this Sunday like many, there is work to be done after worship. Members are excavating to level the building.

Churches in these rural areas can’t pay a preacher. But families give what they can to feed him.

Weekdays and Saturdays, Cayaban hikes to even more remote areas to visit elderly members.

The preacher walks alone but never for long, stopping to talk to and pray with everyone he meets.

This man is celebrating a birthday.

This third grade boy dropped out of school.

Sometimes the only path is across rivers and through farmers’ fields, even in the rainy season.

He visits all the schools and homes along the way.

Cayaban talks of walking uphill, alone and tired, then coming upon children hauling water from the river, who lift his spirits.

The trail is full of challenges and blessings.

One of Cayaban’s favorite Bible verses is simply:

What a beautiful sight!
On the mountains a messenger…

- Isaiah 52:7 CEV

This United Methodist messenger is taking the Word of God, to the people of God, in the Philippines.


Follow The Rev. Cayaban's ministry in the Philippines on Facebook.

Indigenous people living in the northern part of the country where Rev. Cayaban serves are called Igorots. Whereas, those non-Muslim indigenous tribes living in the south are referred to as Lumad. The United Methodist Church has called attention to recent acts of aggression and violence toward the Lumads by those who want to exploit natural resources on their native lands.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. Media contact is Joe Iovino, [email protected].

This video was first posted on July 25, 2019.