MORONG, Bataan—The Aeta people of Bataan are thankful that the beatification of Pope John Paul II, who visited a refugee center in their community and celebrated Mass in 1981, has brought attention to their needs.
“We are happy about the beatification of Pope John Paul II. His assumption to a step toward sainthood elates us Aetas,” said Rodelio Tamundoc, 55, chieftain of the Aeta tribe here.
He and an Aeta group joined more than 200 devotees through a 5-km walk to remember the late Pope at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The “Walk for Pope John Paul II” began at the newly built shrine for the Pontiff inside the 360-hectare Bataan Technology Park Inc. (former site of Philippine Refugee Processing Center) and ended at Sitio Kanawan in Barangay Binaritan here.
Tamundoc said the Aeta people were living near the shrine, built through the efforts of the Bataan Technology Park Inc. (BTPI) and the Catholic Diocese of Balanga. The shrine will be opened at 3 p.m. Monday.
The walk kicked off a series of activities across the country that honored the Pontiff’s beatification. The activities will last until Monday.
The trek was long and at times perilous. Hikers, guided by Aetas, had to cross a hanging bridge, which was built in 1984, to reach Kanawan.
A bridge and roads are what the Aeta community needs from government or concerned groups, Tamundoc said.
The community nevertheless lives comfortably because its residents have access to a spring, he said.
Retired Commodore Amado Sanglay, BTPI vice president and chief operating officer, said other participants, who signed up but did not make it to the walk, were able to send donations for the Aetas of Kanawan.
Some participants belong to the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization. Addressing them, Sanglay said the shrine stood on land that used to host a chapel when the PRPC was operating in the area.
In Pampanga province, couple Nestor and Marion Mangio shared photographs, souvenirs and stories about their encounter with John Paul II.
The Mangios renewed their wedding vows 30 years ago, on June 16, 1981, at a chapel in the Vatican. It was officiated by 16 priests led by Marion’s younger brother, Fr. Christopher Panlilio.
The couple and their four children met John Paul II the following day. “[Friends and relatives working at the Vatican] managed to get us a schedule [to see the Pope] a few hours before our flight out of Rome,” Nestor said.
Marion said the one thing that she cherished about the Pope was the importance he gave to families. “Is this your family? God bless your family,” Marion said, quoting the Pontiff. She said the Pope uttered a prayer for them and handed each family member a rosary.
On Nov. 4, 2004, it was the turn of their son, BJ Mangio, and his wife, Anna Lou, to meet John Paul II shortly after their July wedding that same year.
The couple wanted a child and had asked the Pope’s blessing. A few months after the visit, Anna Lou was pregnant with her son, whom they later named Gian Paulo, the Italian name of John Paul II.
Nestor and Marion sent boxes of Philippine mangoes to the Pope’s kitchen, which the Pontiff acknowledged with a note of thanks.
On the website of the Baguio Media Museum and Animation Studio, Joel Arthur Tibaldo posted photographs of John Paul II’s Baguio visit in 1981.
One photograph shows the Pontiff on a white Sarao jeepney that was converted into a “pope mobile.” Another shows him being greeted by G-string clad Cordillerans who were beating gongs.
Vestment in Malolos
In the City of Malolos in Bulacan province, the vestment which John Paul II gave to former Malolos Bishop Cirilo Almario during his 1981 visit will be displayed at the city’s basilica minore on Monday.
Fr. Jay Lina, head of the diocese’s commission on liturgy, said the Bulacan clergy’s souvenirs of the papal visit, including books, would be featured in the exhibit. Greg Refraccion, Tonette Orejas and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon