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‘Pedro was here’

/ 08:26 AM December 03, 2012

The euphoria over the successful holding of the National Thanksgiving Mass held at the Templete de Pedro in Cebu City’s South Road Properties (SRP) continues. I had to content myself with watching the program on live streaming and I can’t imagine how the SRP’s 27 hectares could be filled with so many people. More than 1 million were there last Friday – young and old, the able and the lame, the poor and the rich, the who’s who and the hoi polloi.

Large gatherings with prominent personalities in and out of government in attendance usually attract terror activities but thankfully, our city was secure throughout the day. Petty criminals were also “immobilized,” thanks to 24/7 monitoring of notorious police characters by some 1,500 policemen deployed around the area.

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) deserves a pat in the back. The momentum of keeping our city streets safe should be maintained especially during the holiday season. I hope the PNP keeps it up. Kudos as well to thousands of volunteers like barangay tanods, church members, personnel from local government units including members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Navy. They all deserve our gratitude for making the National Thanksgiving Mass a huge success.

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Well, well, well.

Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal did not lead the faithful in reciting the ratio imperata for the Reproductive Health (RH) bill but neither did he squander the opportunity of delivering a critique of the controversial bill during the Thanksgiving Mass.

In a previous column, I anticipated that President Benigno Aquino III, who is pro-RH, will be placed in an awkward position if he hears Cardinal Vidal leading the people in praying the obligatory prayer, which depicts the bill as morally evil and dangerous, but no such thing happened. Cardinal Vidal dispensed with the public prayer, perhaps sensing that it would be insulting and ignite resentment on the part of state officials.

However, if one listened carefully to the Cardinal’s homily, one cannot miss the portion where he delivered a rebuke on the population control policy, without having to mention the serial number of the House Bill.

“Our concept of love today is infected with self-seeking. It seeks the easy way out. It seeks fulfilment without facing consequences. It does not assume responsibility. Our love must be purified by faith. We must love as Jesus loves. We must love one another as He has loved us. This is the love that can save us. This is the love that we must teach our young. Not the love that is self-seeking. Not the love that sets no limit to the self.  Not the love that robs lovers of their souls but the love that gives dignity, the love that edifies, the love that ennobles.”

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An addendum to “The Making of a Saint,” which I wrote for the special supplement published by Cebu Daily News last Friday needs to be written. The “story within a story” was deleted from the original work, which was rather long. The thing is, my publisher, Eileen Mangubat edited this part without altering the essence of the backstory of the “making” of St. Pedro Calungsod.

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In the article, Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, rector of the Archdiocesan Shrine of San Pedro Calungsod and vice postulator of the cause for Calungsod’s canonization didn’t tell any dramatic apparitions related to the Visayan saint but Leyson said he felt Pedro’s presence during the entire process of beatification and canonization.

However, Leyson shared the story told by Jesuit priest Jose “Joe” Quilongquilong, a Cebuano who is assigned in Rome and who tirelessly helped the Cebu Archdiocese in the process of Calungsod’s elevation to sainthood.

In 1999, then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal went on an official trip to Guam, which maybe likened to a visit of a top Cabinet official to another country. The documentation process leading to Pedro’s beatification still lacked vital information and other items, like relics of the would-be Beato. The undertaking required the experience of a priest familiar with Church protocol, and Fr. Quilongquilong was tapped to help in the preparations.

As we know, the bodies of Pedro and Jesuit missionary Diego de San Vitores were thrown into the sea after they were killed by indigenous tribes.  In lieu of bones, hair, or even personal effects, the earth where the blood of the martyrs was spilled would do for holy relics.

According to Leyson, weeks before their trip to Guam, he asked Quilongquilong to bring three wooden boxes to be filled with sampaguita flowers to be scattered in the sea near Tomhon, the place where Calungsod and San Vitores where slain. The boxes will then be filled with earth from the same spot to be taken to the Vatican.

Passing through the X-ray machine check of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila en route to Guam, Fr. Joe was stopped by authorities who asked him to unpack several luggage. He did so, but putting all the stuff back looked very daunting. Fortunately, a young man came up to help him.

Quilongquilong passed through the airport check without any more hassle but before his plane took off for Guam, he called Leyson and told him, “Pedro was here.”

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TAGS: Pedro Calungsod, Religion, Thanksgiving mass
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