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Memorializing a Visayan martyr

/ 08:01 AM October 18, 2012

We almost did not make it to our flight to Rome, thanks to a five-hour delay that Philippine Airlines awarded us, some 50 of around 140 pilgrims who left Cebu the other day. I joined the group on behalf of University of San Carlos Press, which has been tasked with publishing the commemorative book on this historic canonization of one of our own.

With me is Fr. Generoso Rebayla, Jr., SVD, the vice president for finance and an professional photographer, who shall endeavor to shoot all the possible angles of the canonization ceremony for San Pedro Calungsod who by now needs no introduction. My nephew, Andre Paquito Yu, who just graduated with a civil engineering degree has been gifted by his parents with this historic trip, together with his sister, Eliese. The four of us will form a tight group, together with Msgr. Agustin “Ting”Ancajas, that will make sure this extremely significant unfolding on Sunday will be properly recorded. USC is pulling out all stops to make a memorable tome worthy of the almost-forgotten sacrifice made by the 17-year old Visayan who joined the Jesuit superior of Guam, Beato Diego de San Vitores, in the ultimate sacrifice for the Catholic faith. Msgr. Ting, who arrived in Rome ahead of us, was vehement that a coffee table book about the saint and his martyrdom should be an integral part of the celebration. Left in Cebu is another co-author, Louella Alix, my constant partner in book writing, who’s been flying in and out of Singapore lately.

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To make sure that as many people as possible can afford a copy of the planned commemorative album, 15,000 copies will be produced by the USC Press hopefully in time for the National Thanksgiving Mass on Nov. 30. The suggested price is a mere 300 pesos for this 120-page full color coffee table book. This is USC’s contribution to the canonization of the teenager who left the Visayas to become a catechist in faraway Guam.

This may be stretching the imagination somewhat but the possibility exists that Calungsod, martyred on April 2, 1672, may have spent time in the Colegio de San Ildefonso, which at that time was run by the Jesuits, the same religious order that brought him to Guam. The very campus of this Jesuit college later became the Real Seminario de San Carlos which opened 10 years after the Jesuit expulsion in Cebu and all Spanish and French dominions in 1767-1768. The Real Seminario soon became Seminario Conciliar de San Carlos and by 1890s, the Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos. The ultimate fact of where San Pedro Calungsod really came from will most probably be never known. The only certainty is that he must have come from any of the Jesuit mission houses, which were in Bohol, Leyte and the home base of Cebu.

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I do not know if there are any pilgrims with us who are from Ginatilan, the most likely place of origin of the saint, if we go by the power of genealogy. The unassailable fact is that the town is the only one in the Visayas that has provided the longest evidence of the Calungsod name recorded in Spanish-era canonical baptismal books. Young and old, the 140 with us, including priests and nuns, as well as Rico Lucena and his ABS-CBN crew, will be witnesses to an event that will live forever in our memories. And to make sure many more who are not with us will remember and get to know the saint more, the book will hopefully help memorialize this first saint of the Visayas.

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Congratulations to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the Province of Cebu for garnering the Most Business Friendly local government unit in the whole country, a prestigious award given recently by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. No less than President Benigno Aquino III handed the award to the governor, who is on the other side of the political fence. This recognition from the country’s premier business organization is the best thing that can ever happen to an outgoing governor, recognition of her strong programs in developing countryside tourism through Suroy-Suroy Sugbo and entrepreneurship via the Obra Negosyo Eskwela Countryside Entrepreneurship and Business Upliftment (One Cebu), among others. Kudos also to USC for winning the PCCI Alejandro M. Yao Intellectual Property Award for research on the treatment of mango waste carried out by world-class faculty researchers of the renowned Chemical Engineering Department led by Dr. Evelyn Taboada with the support of Dr. Danilo Largo, USC research office director who also heads the USC Innovaton and Technological Support Office (ITSO).

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TAGS: Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Cebu, Most Business Friendly, Most Business Friendly local government, Philippine Airlines, pilgrimage, University of San Carlos Press
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