As quickly as time passes, here we are today at the start of March. And as we pause and look back at the past two months of this eventful year, and even earlier, we realize that some of those particular historic and religious news breaks are coming to a significant confluence these days. And even as I started this Bystander-ing last Monday, by the time this comes out today so much more will have happened.
All of these events I take up today have been reported on at length in mass media, so I write as a Concerned (and sometimes minor participating) Bystander with my own thoughts and outlook
Last Monday, the country remembered the 27th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution or Uprising on Feb. 25, 1986. I was then the radio broadcaster on board with dyLA when our remote control team was covering live the rally in Cebu City led by presidential candidate Cory Aquino when news of the uprising in Manila broke out. Our team then reported Cory’s taking refuge with the Carmelite Sisters in Mabolo. A historic picture of this appeared in the front page of Cebu Daily News last Monday. Another picture showed President Cory Aquino returning to thank the Carmelite nuns a few months before her term ended in 1992.
Sunday, February 24th, marked the 76th Charter Anniversary of Cebu City which was inaugurated in 1937. The late Don Vicente Rama, the “Father of Cebu City”, was honored with a floral offering at his bust at the Cebu City Fire Bureau Office. He had authored Commonwealth Act No. 58 creating the City of Cebu which was approved on October 20, 1934. He is also remembered and honored with the lengthy V. Rama Avenue starting from the Guadalupe Parish Church and extending downtown to the San Nicolas District.
When Cebu City was inaugurated on Feb. 24, 1937, Alfredo Jacinto was sworn into office as the first city mayor by then Interior Secretary Elpidio Quirino,, who represented President Manuel Quezon. These officials I remember reading and studying about in civic and current news events classes when I was in high school at the Cebu Provincial High School, now called Abellana High School.
A religious news break that shocked the world before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season the week before, was the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI that he was renouncing (which media reported as “resigning”) his pontificate as the 265th Bishop of Rome, effective yesterday, February 28th.
In the week before, I had been following the almost daily coverage of Pope Benedict’s papal visits and religious activities both in and outside Rome, marveling his remarkable energy and religious concern for hosts of the faithful, despite showing signs of weariness at his age. Usually he would ride to these events in a glass-enclosed papal transport or on a hand-propelled mobile platform to the altar in Mass and church ceremonies for public addresses in auditoriums.
The Pope has given as his reasons for his leaving, his age, physical weakness, and recently revealed problem with his eyesight in one eye . This week, I watched the EWTN coverage of his last public Mass and Angelus. Last Monday I watched on EWTN a Thanksgiving Mass for the Pontificate Pope Benedict XVI celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washing, DX.C. It was a Basilica I remember visiting on the invitation of good friend Lourdes “Ludy” L. Halasan, wife of former dyRC co-broadcaster Henry Halasan.
We now look to the forthcoming conclave that may be held earlier than expected this March, to vote for the next Pope. Cebu’s retired Ricardo Cardinal and newly ordained Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who is eligible to vote. By the way, earlier, in connection with our forthcoming elections and the heated, if sometimes confusing campaigning, Pope Benedict has advised the Philippines to vote wisely for our candidates.
Looking over the religious calendar, we were reminded at anticipated Mass celebrated by Alliance of Two Hearts parish priest Fr. Wendell Balbuena at the Arcenas Mall that Sunday, the 25th, was Transfiguration Sunday, commemorating the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain before Peter and his companions.
Still current news early this week was the Sabah stand-off between Malaysia and members of the Sulu Sultanate led by the brother of Sultab Jamalul Kiram III regarding the latters’ stay in Sabah over the objections of the Malaysian government that has threatened to take drastic action against them as they show “no signs of leaving peacefully”. Memories and reconnection here, again: I remember in our two-year stay in the ‘30’s in Jolo, Sulu, becoming familiar with the Kiram Sultanate and the Kiram name.
Jesuit Fr. Joaquin Bernas, in his latest column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, clarifies that the Sultanate is claiming “not political sovereignty but proprietory right”, for which we learned earlier that Malaysia still pays the Sultanate a fee for the land in Sabah. PDI columnist Randy David, for his part asks, “Who owns Sulu?” Further developments in this fluid situation may have possibly come about when this Bystand-ering comes out today. So for now, abangan ang susunod!
For next week, I look forward to sharing important points taken up in our Cebu Girls Scout Council Executive Committee meeting Friday last week, as well as our monthly Cebu United Radio and Television Association (CURTA), Inc. this Sunday.
Until then, as always, may God continue to bless us one and all!