Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!

Belen scene from the "Belenismo" exhibit in Tarlac City in 2009. 

Source for the picture: Dennis Capulong's blog.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Philippines just got a second venerable... did you notice?

Note: Some have asked me why I did not count Ven. Isabel Larranaga Ramirez (1836 - 1899) as the "first" Filipino venerable. Here is my reason: although Ven. Isabel Larranaga Ramirez was born in Manila in 1836 (to a Spanish father and a Peruvian mother), she left the Philippines with her mother shortly after her father died when she was only 2 years old. She never returned. 


On December 20, 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, authorized the Congregation for Causes of Saints to recognize miracles attributed to a group of Beati, two individual Beati and five Venerables; the martyrdom of thirty-five Servants of God; and the heroic virtues of nine individuals (who thereby gained the title "Venerable"). 

Among the nine new Venerables, most media attention has gone to Pope Paul VI. Few -- even among Filipinos -- have paid attention to the fact that one of the new Venerables is a Spanish-born nun who spent most of her religious life in the Philippines, and who co-founded what is now a Filipina religious congregation:  Joaquina Mercedes Barceló y Pagés, known in religious life as Mother Consuelo, who was the co-foundress (along with her blood sister, Mother Rita) of the Philippine-based (and predominantly Filipina) Congregation of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation.

Born in Barcelona in 1857, she died in Manila in 1940. Although she was born in Spain and had purely Spanish blood, the fact that her life in religion and spiritual heritage unfolded mostly in the Philippines and among Filipinos, makes her truly "one of us" as well. 

Ven. Consuelo Barcelo y Pages is the second person from the Catholic Church in the Philippines to receive the title "Venerable". The first was Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, who was recognized as Venerable on July 6, 2007. The two Filipino saints (SS. Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod) were martyrs rather than confessors and so did not have to have to be declared "Venerable" prior to beatification. 

The following biography of the new Venerable is now in Archive.Org (LINK):

Mother Consuelo Barcelo Y Pages, OSA

Joaquina Mercedes Barceló y Pagés was born in Sarriá, Barcelona on July 24, 1857. She was the youngest of the five children of Salvador Barceló and Maria Pagés. In early 1883, she entered the “Beaterio de Mantelatas de San Agustin” in Barcelona, Spain. As a Postulant, she was allowed to join the second group of Spanish Sisters for the Mandaluyong Orphanage (Asilo de Mandaloya). She arrived in Manila on October 6, 1883. She was thus encouraged because her sister Mother Rita had already joined the first group of four (4) Sisters on April 6, 1883. They responded to the invitation of the Spanish Augustinians to take care of children orphaned by cholera epidemic in 1882.

On Dec. 26, 1884, Joaquina Barceló made her profession of vows and was given the name Sor Consuelo. As of 1888, only Mother Rita and Mother Consuelo were left to care for the orphans because the other Spanish Sisters had returned to Barcelona, Spain due to poor health. The Philippine Revolution of 1896 and the Spanish-American War of 1898 led to the separation of Mother Rita and Mother Consuelo from their Filipino Sisters. They were bound by obedience to return to Spain on March 13, 1899 and were both recommended for readmission to the Beaterio in Barcelona by the Augustinian Vicar Provincial in the Philippines.

Upon petition of the Filipino Sisters and also of their Spiritual Director, Fr. Bernabe Jimenez, Sor Consuelo sought permission from her Superiors to return to the Philippines for she was then the Superior of the Beaterio de Barcelona. She returned to Manila on July 1904. It was in the First General Chapter in 1915 that she was elected Superior General and in every succeeding General Chapter elections every six years for four terms.

The small congregation continued to grow and expand its mission in several provinces. Mo. Consuelo’s 25 years of firm and gentle leadership manifested her outstanding virtues: Love of God / Love of Neighbor, Faith, Hope, Human Justice, Humility, Poverty, Prudence, Obedience, Fortitude. She had a special affection for the poor, the sick, the miserable and the unfortunate. She was attentive to everyone in their spiritual and temporal needs. She was always uncomplaining and mortified even in her last days of pain and suffering. Mother Consuelo quietly celebrated her 83rd birthday on July 24, 1940. She died on August 4, 1940, having been called home by God to her eternal rest and reward for having served Him faithfully for 56 years in the religious life.

Photo source: Hagiography Circle

Videos on the history of the Archdiocese of Palo

The Diocese of Palo was erected on November 28, 1937 and raised to an Archdiocese on November 15, 1982. As such, November 2012 marked the 75th anniversary of its founding and the 30th anniversary of its raising to Archdiocesan rank. In belated recognition of these two anniversaries I'm embedding the following videos here in this blog. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Video of Pope Benedict XVI bestowing the ring and red biretta on the six new cardinals (including Cardinal Tagle)

The consistory for the formal elevation to the cardinalate of the Church's six newest Cardinals, including the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, took place today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last living Filipino Council Father at Vatican II passes away

January 31, 1920 - November 20, 2012. 

The first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Pablo (Laguna, Philippines) has died. He was 92, and was about to turn 93 in a little more than two months. He was the last living Filipino bishop who had been a Council Father of Vatican II and the last living member of the pre-Vatican II Philippine Catholic hierarchy.

From the website of the Diocese of San Pablo (Laguna, Philippines):

His Excellency MOST REV. PEDRO N. BANTIGUE, JCD, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of San Pablo, was born on the 31st of January, 1920 at Sta. Monica Hagonoy, Bulacan. The son of Marcos Bantigue and Eusebia Natividad.

He was ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Manila on May 31, 1945. On May 29, 1961, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Titular Bishop of Catula. Finally, on July 25 of the same year, he was ordained Bishop by Rufino Jiao Cardinal Santos. 

On April 18, 1967, six years after being lifted to the Episcopate, he was appointed the First Bishop of San Pablo (Laguna) and remained in the same office until July 12, 1995. He retired at the age of 75.

The old website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines notes that Bishop Bantigue was once a member of the Marriage Tribunal, chairman of the CBCP Commissions on Life, Clergy and Prisoners' Welfare. He was Treasurer of the CBCP in 1976.

When the "Year of Faith" marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council was launched on October 11, 2012, Bishop Bantigue was one of 76 living Catholic bishops who had been Council Fathers. (See the list here.)

A photo gallery of the bishop's life and times as priest and bishop can be found at the Catholic Hagonoeño website: Pedro Natividad Bantigue: Obispong Bulakeño, Paring Hagonoeño

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tomorrow in UST: Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy

Tomorrow, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom will be celebrated by a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, the Rt Rev. Mitrat Olexander Kenez, in the UST Central Seminary Chapel at 3:00 PM. 

Fr. Olexander Kenez is the Chancellor / Protosyncellus of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Australia, with its seat in Melbourne. 

I have been told that at least part of the Divine Liturgy will be in Filipino, using a provisional translation. 

There have been occasional Greek Catholic (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox) Divine Liturgies in the Philippines in the past, either by visiting biritual or Greek Catholic Jesuit priests at the Ateneo de Manila or by the late Msgr. Moises Andrade at San Beda, but to my knowledge this is the first one in recent years in the Philippines to be announced and opened to the general public. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Archbishop Socrates Villegas: the separation of Church and State should not be absolute

Consecration of the Philippines to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by President Ramon Magsaysay, December 2, 1956.  Picture scanned from the souvenir album for the Second National Eucharistic Congress of the Philippines, November 28 - December 2, 1956. 

From the article "Church and State Collaboration and Cooperation" on the blog of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan:

...the Archbishop paid attention to what our constitution, and what the Church law state that “there should be inviolable separation of the Church and the State…Hindi dapat pagsamahin ang gobyerno at simbahan. Hindi puwedeng ilipat ang katedral sa kapitolyo, at hindi puwedeng mag-office si governor sa katedral…Mayroong separation of Church and State.”

But he also stressed that that separation is not absolute, because there is no separation between God and citizens, between God and man. When we separate God and man, it is not only immoral, it is also unconstitutional, because in the constitution we all recognize that all of us have a God. Citing the late Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop said that the Church and the State are like railroad tracks parallel all throughout and not too near, not too far from each other so that the train could move forward. The train is our country, our nation.

Then Archbishop Villegas mentioned several areas of collaboration and cooperation between the Church and the State:

The First is Peace. Everyone is longing for peace. It is the responsibility of the State to promote peace, and it is also the mission of the Church to take care of peace. Stating it in Filipino, he said: There will be no peace if the people are fighting against each other; there will be no peace if God is not there. There will be no peace if we do not treat each other as brothers and sisters, and there will be no peace if we destroy our environment and natural resources.

The Second is Progress. As the election campaign progresses, all candidates promise to work for progress. We will not vote for any candidate who does not guarantee progress when he/she is elected. But this progress that the candidates promise to promote, this progress of the people is also the concern of the Church. When people progress, the Church is also happy with the progress. But it is not an absolute progress. It should be a progress with God; it should be a progress walking with God, because the Gospel says: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his soul. “Anong kuwenta ng progress kung nahiwalay tayo sa Diyos; anong kuwenta ng pag-unlad kung nawala ang Diyos sa ating kaunlaran. Progress of the people is the duty of the government, and the Church supports governments in promoting total human progress."

The Third is People. It is the people that relate the Church and the State. “’Yung taong nagsisimba, ‘yun din ho ang bumuboto; ;yung taong nagpapa-bless, ‘yun din po ang nagbabayad ng buwis. Ang ibig sabihin po, ang ating pagmamalasakit sa tao ay hindi lamang pagmamalasakit ng gobyerno; ang pagmamalasakit sa tao ay pagmamalasakit ng Diyos para sa atin. Thus, there must be proper distance between the Church and the State so that we can serve the people best. There is what we call in the Church “Common Good”, the good of all, of the many. And this is the duty of both the Church and the State.

He concluded by saying that “before the Lord, we are only brothers and sisters. And in the presence of the Lord, let us promise together, government and Church, munisipyo and Kapitolyo, and the Cathedral and the parishes, let us work together, hand in hand, for peace, let us work together hand in hand for true, Godly progress, let us work together keeping in mind the people always. Because it is only in caring for one another that we can show our love for God...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Archbishop of Manila to be elevated to the cardinalate

The Vatican Press Office has just announced the forthcoming elevation, on November 24, 2012, of six prelates to the cardinalate, among them our very own Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila.

Therefore, on November 24, 2012, the short absence of Filipinos from the ranks of the cardinal-electors since Cardinal Rosales turned 80 on August 10 of this year will come to an end. The same for Colombia, which has had no cardinal-elector since September; the currently reigning Archbishop of Bogotá, Rubén Salazar Gómez, is one of the six prelates who will be created cardinals. At present, the Philippines and Colombia, which respectively have the 3rd and 7th largest Catholic populations in the whole world, are the only ones among the 15 countries in the world with the largest Catholic populations to have no cardinal-elector.

Congratulations to the new Cardinal-elect!

For the record: the full video of the canonization rites in Rome, October 21, 2012

This is the ceremony where St. Pedro Calungsod and six others were canonized. The broadcast is from the US, hence the focus on St. Kateri Tekakwitha, one of the newly-canonized.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two Popes on St. Pedro Calungsod

The section of the Pope's homily during the canonization Mass regarding St. Pedro Calungsod:

From the website of Rome Reports comes the following transcript of the Pope's remarks on the second Filipino saint. Emphasis mine:

Pedro Calungsod was born around the year sixteen fifty-four, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In sixteen sixty-eight, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. 

Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the second of April, sixteen seventy-two. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

This echoes the statement of Pope John Paul II twelve years ago, during his homily at the Mass of beatification for Pedro Calungsod and 43 other martyrs (March 5, 2000):

If anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven" (Mt 10: 32). From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his call. Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist. Leaving family and friends behind, Pedro willingly accepted the challenge put to him by Fr Diego de San Vitores to join him on the Mission to the Chamorros. In a spirit of faith, marked by strong Eucharistic and Marian devotion, Pedro undertook the demanding work asked of him and bravely faced the many obstacles and difficulties he met. In the face of imminent danger, Pedro would not forsake Fr Diego, but as a "good soldier of Christ" preferred to die at the missionary's side. Today Bl. Pedro Calungsod intercedes for the young, in particular those of his native Philippines, and he challenges them. Young friends, do not hesitate to follow the example of Pedro, who "pleased God and was loved by him" (Wis 4: 10) and who, having come to perfection in so short a time, lived a full life (cf. ibid., v. 13).

San Pedro Calungsod, ipanalangin mo kami!

(10/22/12 - I've replaced the original picture in this post with the following photo from News.Va)

St. Pedro Calungsod, pray that before long, your fellow Filipino martyrs of the Marianas missions will also be recognized and raised to the honors of the altar...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Philippine Daily Inquirer Front Page, October 21, 2012

Way Sukod ang Pagmahal (Love Without Recompense) -- Song in Honor of St. Pedro Calungsod

I first heard this at the performance of the "Teen Saint Pedro" musical in Meralco Theater on October 17 and was quite impressed by it. It was originally written for the beatification of Pedro Calungsod (and other beati) on March 5, 2000.

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Liturgical Dance: Congregation for Divine Worship answers a query from a Filipino Catholic

UPDATED: Defensores Fidei Foundation to hold its 8th Annual Apologetics Seminar

UPDATED 10/8/12: The previous poster has now been replaced with a new one that corrects a typo and contains the dates for each lecture.  

Originally posted on Sept. 25, 2012:

Since 2005, Defensores Fidei Foundation has held an annual seminar introducing Filipino Catholics to the whys and hows of Catholic apologetics. Broadly speaking, Catholic apologetics as it is now understood is the art of charitably but firmly defending the Catholic faith in the face of attacks against it. Since 2005, hundreds of Filipino Catholics have learned the basics of Catholic apologetics through these lectures. It should be noted that H.E. Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales endorsed the work of Defensores Fidei while he was Archbishop of Manila. 

Every year except for 2011, the seminar was primarily led and taught by laymen. Last year, DFF decided to hold the apologetics seminar in the Alabang area and to have priests take the lead in teaching the course, with a greater emphasis on a catechetical approach and shorter sessions. For this year, DFF has decided to go back to its earlier pattern for the apologetics seminar, with each session consisting of more than 3 hours of lectures and wide-ranging Q&A. However, unlike the annual seminars from 2005 to 2010 which had 12 or 13 sessions each, this year's seminar will have only 9 sessions. Topics not covered in the course of the 9 sessions will be touched in the course of the Blessed to be Catholic monthly lecture series that DFF will hold in 2013, except in March (to make way for a planned apologetics-themed pilgrimage) and October to December, when the 9th annual apologetics seminar will be held (God willing!). 

Who are the speakers?

1. Rev. Msgr. Carlos Estrada -- Regional Vicar of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. Msgr. Estrada has long been a friend of Defensores Fidei and it has been a 'tradition' for him to give the Christology lecture during the annual apologetics seminar. 

2. Fr. Stanislaus Kostka Balucanag OATH -- The (tentative) speaker for the "Sacraments II" session, which will focus on the Eucharist and the Priesthood. "Fr. Stan" is a 30-year-old priest of the Oblates of the Alliance of the Two Hearts. He takes up the lecture traditionally given from 2005 to 2010 by DFF associate member and blogger, Fr. Abe Arganiosa. He moved to the United States this year. (Yes, Fr. Arganiosa is a priest in good standing.)

3. Ed "Chief" De Vera -- A founding member of Defensores Fidei Foundation, author of two books (Catholic Soul and Mysteries of Salvation History – Promise and Fulfillment in the Holy Rosary) and columnist for Kerygma magazine.

4. Bro. Marwil Llasos OP -- A lawyer (educated at UP College of Law), formator of the Company of St. Dominic (a secular institute canonically subject to the Archdiocese of Manila that practices Dominican spirituality) and without question the Philippines' leading lay Marian apologist. His many activities and voluminous writings on apologetics, especially Marian topics, can be seen in his blogs such as The Knight of Mary and its predecessor Marwil N. Llasos.

5. And, finally.... nah, no need to talk about him. =)

The "Graduation" will take place on December 15, 2012. It will be preceded by the ninth and final talk of the whole apologetics seminar, and will be followed by Mass. From 2007 to 2010 the closing Mass of the Defensores Fidei Foundation apologetics seminar was in Latin, celebrated ad orientem; from 2007 to 2009 it was in the Forma Ordinaria / Novus Ordo (with the 2008 Mass being concelebrated by Bishop Angel Hobayan and Fr. Abraham Arganiosa with Fr. Carlos Estrada as Master of Ceremonies) and in 2010 it was according to the Extraordinary Form / Traditional Latin Mass. At present, the plan is to conclude the seminar once more with a Latin Mass, although there is no word yet on what Missal will be used. After the Mass there will be lunch followed by an informal reunion of Filipino Catholic apologists, the first since 2007.

It should be noted that the DFF seminar for this year will occur entirely within the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013) proclaimed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. In its Note with Pastoral Recommendations for the Year of Faith (Jan. 6, 2012) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted the need for apologetics:

It would be useful to arrange for the preparation of pamphlets and leaflets of an apologetic nature (cfr. 1 Pt 3:15), which should be done with the help of theologians and authors. Every member of the faithful would then be enabled to respond better to the questions which arise in difficult contexts – whether to do with sects, or the problems related to secularism and relativism, or to questions “arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries,”[26] or to other specific issues. (Recommendations II.8)

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's final: "ecumenical version" of the Lord's Prayer will no longer be used at English Masses in the Philippines beginning Dec. 2, 2012

Source: Clarification on the use of the English version of the “Lord’s Prayer”

Bishop Patricio Alo's strong words versus Freemasonry and Freemasons

The following exhortation was posted on Sept. 26, 2012 on the blog maintained by CBCP Media Office on behalf of Most Rev. Patricio Alo, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Mati in Davao Oriental. I've put some sentences in bold in order to highlight the bishop's plain speaking regarding Freemasonry:

There are societies in this world that have evil plans against the Church and society but the only way we can beware of them is by following Jesus’ warning who said in the gospels (Mt. 7:15), “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.  You will be able to tell them by their fruits.”  Yes you know the false prophets or false friends because of their evil deeds, which are already known from past events and happenings in history.  In the gospel of Jn. 8:44 Jesus tells that the devil is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus called hypocrites those who pretended to be good and religious people but were really greedy and ambitious ones.  That’s what the insincere people pretend to be while inside they secretly plan to do harm to the neighbor.  God wants us to have a simple and open life, after all He knows our deepest secrets which we cannot hide from Him.  “Do not be afraid of them therefore, for everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.  What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers proclaim from the housetops” (Mt. 10:26-27).  Yes, open and fearless speech, not hidden agenda. 

God wants us to be simple and sincere unlike the nature of snakes which are deceitful, hidden and cunning.  As Jesus warns in the cited text: “You will know the false prophets by their deeds as you know the tree by its fruit” (Mt. 7:15).  You can know that studying the history, of peoples and events, God wants us to be true to ourselves in all we say or do.  Do not pretend to be what you are not.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  In all things be true to God, yourself and your neighbor.  The proverb is ever true: Truth will out.  (One way or another, in spite of all efforts to conceal it, the truth will come to be known.)  Even the famous poet William Shakespeare talks about this in Hamlet Act I, sc. 3: “This above all—to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

In particular I am talking about Freemasonry or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority.  The Catholic Church, under penalty of excommunication, forbids Catholics from joining above-mentioned secret societies which normally operate with strict secrecy.

In 2005, this same bishop had forbidden Freemasons from even entering Catholic churches in his diocese: Bishop bans Masons from entering church in Mati.

Image of Bishop Alo from Mati - A Place Like No Other
The picture of Freemasonic regalia is taken from this page and is not part of the original article from Bishop Alo. 

Declaration of Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City, as a National Historical Treasure on October 4, 2012

Video streaming by Ustream

The Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 1, 2012 article Santo Domingo Church, La Naval de Manila shrine to be declared National Cultural Treasure summarizes the artistic treasures to be found in this great church: 

Showcase of great architecture, great art 
Measuring 85 meters in length, 40 meters in width and 25 meters in height, with a total floor area of 3,300 sq m, Santo Domingo Church is the biggest in Metro Manila and one of the biggest churches in Asia. 

The massive church is a unique blend of Spanish colonial and modern architecture. 

It was designed by José Ma. Zaragoza, who was still a student of architecture at UST when the Dominicans commissioned him to design the church. 

Unlike the huge Baroque churches of the Hispanic period, the Santo Domingo is modern. But it follows the Mission-style architecture—with shades of Romanesque and Gothic designs—which welcomes more space. 

Aside from being an architectural jewel, the Santo Domingo Church houses artistic treasures. 

In the nave are eight colorful murals by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco depicting the life and times of Santo Domingo de Guzman, the Spaniard who founded the Order of Preachers, whose members are now called Dominicans. Legend has it that it is to Saint Dominic that Our Lady gave the Rosary for the Dominicans to promote. 

Francisco’s murals are just below the equally brilliant murals of the Four Evangelists in vivid brown tones by Vicente Garcia Llamas. 

History of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija

Coat of Arms of Most. Rev. Sofronio Bancud SSS, DD, Bishop of Cabanatuan from the 2005 to the present

Embedding of these videos has been disabled by request, so I will just post the links to the Diocese of Cabanatuan's official documentary on its history:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A new Filipino priest-playwright

From Sun Star Cebu's article Sept. 23, 2012 article on The other side of Msgr. Ting Ancajas (via Katekista Ako blog):

One such talented  priest is Msgr. Agustin ”Ting” Ancajas. He entered the priesthood only after finishing  a degree in communication from the Ateneo de Manila University. 

Ordained a priest in 2000, he was first assigned to the Lonergan Communication Center at the Seminario Mayor. Then, until the retirement of Rufino (sic) J. Cardinal Vidal, he became the cardinal’s secretary. 


... playwriting is his passion. He started to write plays in 1998 under the pen name Angelo (his favorite name) Zige (the family name of his great, great grandfather who—shhh—was a Portuguese friar, whose picture is with one of Msgr. Ting’s aunts). So far he has written 15 one-act plays. He explains: “I grew up with radio shows. I just love to write plays because of that. Sometimes when I am inspired, I write non-stop from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. When I’m inspired to write, and I get the momentum to do so, it’s hard to stop.” 

His two latest plays are Laptop and Living Downstairs. He wrote Laptop in 2010 when he  was in London taking a six-month course, from September 2010 to March 2011, on  acting and directing at the Central School of Speech and Drama  at the University of London. Living Downstairs is about domestics living in London, for which he actually became a domestic for two weekends to get the feel of their life. 

Laptop is a contemporary play about two brothers and a sister in London. 

“It’s about  family relationships,” Msgr. Ting says. “The laptop is an important gadget to connect people, to break or mend relationships, especially for people who move around. It’s the laptop, especially through Skype, that connects them.” 

Msgr. Ting says his plays have been  shown in the seminary, as well as in other parishes when their priests ask to borrow the plays. He will show Laptop on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Marcelo Fernan Cebu Press Center. He originally wrote Laptop in Tagalog, a language he grew up with during his childhood days in Manila, but he has had to translate it in Cebuano for this presentation, which will see him as a better-prepared director honed in the “Method Acting” to “be natural, be realistic as much as possible.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

UST is first Filipino Catholic university to implement the "Mandatum"

On September 19, 2012, the entire body of lay theology teachers in the University of Santo Tomas -- the Philippines' only Pontifical University -- received the Mandatum required by Canon 812 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (read this particular Canon here) and by the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which was promulgated by Pope John Paul II back in 1990. Both of these documents require that those who teach a theological discipline in any Catholic institute of higher education should obtain a mandate (mandatum) to teach from the competent ecclesiastical authority, usually the Ordinary or bishop of the diocese where the institute is located. 

In addition to the lay theology teachers, professors of ethics, professors of professional ethics, high school religion teachers, and six instructors in bioethics at the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery received the Mandatum. (H/t to Mr. Richard Pazcoguin, Asst. Director of UST Campus Ministry, for this information.)

To my knowledge this is the first time that a Catholic institute of higher education in the Philippines has specifically required its teachers of theological disciplines to obtain the Mandatum. The UST Varsitarian modestly comments that "this is probably the first time the mandatum will be enforced in the Philippines". In the United States, where the issue of the Mandatum and the overall concern for doctrinal purity in Catholic education has been more pronounced and impassioned among laymen, many small and middle-sized Catholic colleges and universities (informally called "Ex Corde Ecclesiae schools") have been publicly implementing the requirement of a Mandatum or an equivalent Oath of Fidelity for all of their teachers of theological disciplines since the 1990's. 

Rite for the Conferment of the Mandatum:

Monday, August 20, 2012

What are the Holy Days of Obligation in the Philippines?

Crowds of faithful at Lingayen Cathedral during the episcopal consecration of Msgr. Cesar Guerrero on May 24, 1929.  From a private collection. 

Every time a well-known Solemnity / First Class Feast comes around, I hear the inevitable question: "Is this day a Holy Day of Obligation"? I saw this question get asked on various Facebook pages on August 15 (the Assumption of Our Lady), just like in previous years. 

In this post I will present the legislation on this matter that is currently recognized by Rome and the CBCP, without in any way delving into the question of its wisdom, propriety and fidelity to the Tradition of the Church

In this regard, Filipino Catholics are "lucky" (or unfortunate, depending on who gets asked) that, under the Code of Canon Law currently recognized by the Holy See and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, the Philippines has only three Holy Days of Obligation, namely, the Immaculate Conception (December 8) Christmas Day / Nativity of Our Lord (December 25), and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (January 1).

Three other days that are Holy Days of Obligation in the normative liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite, namely the solemnities / feasts of the Epiphany (January 6), Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter Sunday) and Corpus Christi Thursday (the Thursday after Trinity Sunday), have been moved by the Philippine hierarchy (with Rome's blessings) to Sundays. Epiphany is observed in the Philippines on the first Sunday after January 1, while Ascension and Corpus Christi are moved to the Sunday after their traditional dates.

The remaining four Holy Days of Obligation in the normative calendar of the Roman Rite -- St. Joseph (March 19), SS. Peter and Paul (June 29), the Assumption of the BVM (August 15) and All Saints (November 1) -- are not considered as such in the Philippines. 

The list of Holy Days of Obligation for the entire Roman Rite, as well as the authority of the local episcopal conferences to suppress or transfer some or all of these, are delineated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1246 §1 The Lord's Day, on which the paschal mystery is celebrated, is by apostolic tradition to be observed in the universal Church as the primary holyday of obligation. In the same way the following holydays are to be observed: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of St Joseph, the feast of the Apostles SS Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints. 
§2 However, the Episcopal Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, suppress certain holydays of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

On September 27, 1985, Pope John Paul II approved and confirmed the Norms Approved by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for the Local Implementation of Some Provisions of the New Code of Canon Law. The entire text of this document can be found in CBCP Monitor, Vol. VI No. 6 (November - December 1985), pp. 32 - 43. To this very day this document has not been overturned or abolished. This document says the following regarding Holy Days of Obligation (pp. 39-40):

Can. 1246, 2: Holy Days of Obligation 
1. With reference to Canon 1246,2, the following feasts are holydays of obligation in the Philippines: 
a. January 1 - Motherhood of Mary (New Year)
b. December 8 - Immaculate Conception (Patroness of the Philippines)
c. December 25 - Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Note: The Feast of Corpus Christi is not recommended by the CBCP because it always falls on a Thursday which is a working day; for this reason the solemnity of the feast will not be fostered because only very few people can go to church and the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, instead of being enhanced, will be diminished. Why? Because the people who usually go to the church only on Sundays can no longer celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi because it is already observed on a Thursday and cannot join the procession.  
2. All other feasts mentioned in Canon 1246, 1, are transferred to the nearest Sunday, preceding or following the feast.  
Note: Three other feasts are celebrated on the nearest Sunday, namely: Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi. The reason why the Bishops do not want to change the present discipline is because, pastorally, they find it hard to have to explain to the people that it is again a mortal sin not to go to Mass on Epiphany or Ascension or Corpus Christi, when all these past years we have been preaching that it was not, because these feasts are no longer Holy Days of Obligation. 
3. The parish priest has the obligation to apply the Missa pro populo for his parishioners on Sundays and holydays as stated above, in accord with Canon 543, 2. 
Ironically, while December 8 (an official Holy Day of Obligation) is not an official holiday in the Philippines, November 1, All Saints' Day, which is not recognized by the Philippine hierarchy as a Holy Day of Obligation, is an official holiday. As a result many Filipinos go to church on November 1 in the belief that it is a Holy Day of Obligation. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

At the height of the flooding in Manila this August...

Sto. Domingo, Quezon City, where an estimated 5,000 people took refuge. 
H/t for pic: Art Vincent Pangan

Holy Family Parish, Roxas District, Quezon City, where 1,300 people sought refuge.
(Currently circulating in Facebook)
More pictures from "The Pinoy Catholic"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mother of Philippine music schools

From Rosalinda Orosa's August 1, 2012 Philippine Star column titled SSC platinum celebration, Sr. Battig's contribution / Argentine film exhibition (emphasis mine):

The primary and singular distinction of SSC (St. Scholastica College - CAP) is its pioneering introduction of formal music education in the country through Sr. Baptista Battig, student of Ludwig Deppe, then the last living pupil of Liszt. 
Born in 1870, Sr. Battig marked her centennial in the Philippines in 1970. She had just began in her native Breslau, Silesia, an auspicious concert career when she answered a call to the religious life. At age 30, she became a nun in the Benedictine Order founded by St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica. Sr. Battig was sent to the Philippines in 1907, leaving the Benedictine headquarters in Tutzing, Germany. She was to teach music in this country for the next 35 years. 
Her first music classes in Manila were in a modest room in Singalong with a single, second hand, borrowed piano. To demonstrate her theories — beauty of tone being the most important of these — she gave two concerts whose overwhelming success drew countless pupils to her classes which were later held in an impressive building adjoining St. Scholastica College, the St. Cecilia’s Hall. 
Much later, as interns we were allowed to leave our study period so we could attend the recitals of the students of Sr. Battig or of her own graduates. The earliest of these were Barbara Cuaycong, Eugenia and Marcela Agoncillo, Blanca Castillo (later Mrs. Dinglasan) all of whom became my piano mentors, Imelda Katigbak (later Mrs. Dayrit) mother of pianists Menchu Padilla and Amelita Guevarra, Pilar Blanco, mother of Ingrid Santamaria. Eugenia Agoncillo gave me valuable pointers on reviewing music performances. Luz Katigbak, who graduated under Marcela Agoncillo’s tutelage lectured to us on music theory and composition, music history and music appreciation. 
All music schools in the country directly or indirectly trace their beginnings to Sr. Battig who introduced Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, Chopin et al, their works, to quote Celine Olaguer Sarte, forming the backbone and the glory of piano literature. Way back in 1933, as the zealous, pioneering Sr. Battig marked her 25th year of piano teaching in the Philippines, she wrote: “Great is my desire to see the dear children of the East rise in the musical world to the same level as those of the West. May all my earnest endeavor bear fruit and lead to a plentiful harvest; and may my profound desire be realized some day.” There is absolutely no doubt that Sr. Battig’s desire has been more than fulfilled.

Photo from St. Scholastica College website

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Archbishop Socrates Villegas issues decree on the Nicene Creed

In the Philippines, since the 1970's, the Apostles' Creed has been the usual or default Creed for Masses on Sundays and Solemnities, except in a few parishes and a few dioceses (such as the Diocese of Tagbilaran). This practice predates even the universal permission given in the 2002 edition of the Missal of Paul VI (also known as the "2002 Missal" or the "Missal of Bl. John Paul II") for the Apostles' Creed to be substituted for the Nicene (or Nicene-Constantinopolitan) Creed. The result? At least two generations of Filipino Catholics who are largely unfamiliar with the Nicene Creed and its strong and unavoidable affirmation of the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit. In a country beset by heresies relating specifically to Christology and the Trinity this is disastrous, to say the least. (It is true that the Apostles' Creed accurately proclaims the Catholic faith, but it does so with less detail and less explicitness particularly about the Divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit.)

The Nicene Creed in Latin
Now, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, has issued a decree on familiarizing the faithful of his diocese with this glorious Creed, and mandating that it be returned to all Masses on Sundays and Solemnities in his Archdiocese.

I personally hope that more Filipino bishops will follow suit. The Year of the New Evangelization should, by its very title, be concerned above all with bringing the basics of the Gospel and therefore of the Catholic faith back to the minds and hearts of the faithful. The Gospel cannot be boiled down to a mere set of encouragements to moral and upright living, and the Catholic faith is not merely about being kind to everyone. The Gospel and the entire Catholic faith are centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and to preach Christ entails proclaiming the whole truth about Him, including His Divinity, His perfections, and His claims as the sole Way, Truth and Life. What better way to start (at least in the Philippines) than by reminding our people once more of the Nicene Creed?

I would like to point out as well that the re-introduction of the Nicene Creed to the Mass will not "endanger" the Apostles' Creed. In addition to being a catechetical mainstay, the Apostles' Creed will continue to be said at the beginning of the favorite devotion of numerous Filipinos: the Holy Rosary.

The original Greek text of the Nicene Creed

From the website of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan:

July 31, 2012

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Circular 2012-22

RE: Using the Nicene Creed

My dear brothers in the priesthood and religious sisters:

When the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI opens the Year of Faith on October 11 this year, culminating on the Solemnity of Christ the King next year on November 24, the focal point of all the programs for the year will be the profession of faith. The Holy See has expressed its earnest intention to make the profession of faith a daily prayer for all Catholics. The Holy Father himself wants all Catholics to become more familiar with the Nicene Creed which is the profession of faith prescribed in the Missal for Sundays and solemnities. Here is the translation of the Nicene Creed in the third edition of the Roman Missal that is now prescribed for public praying daily beginning October 11:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. And one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

In obedience to the Holy See, please observe the following directives:

1) The Nicene Creed must be taught in all the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan beginning August 1, 2012 in preparation for the opening of the Year of Faith; 
2) Parishes and schools must reproduce copies of the Nicene Creed in order to help our Catholic faithful pray the profession of faith daily beginning October 11. 
3) The Nicene Creed must be prayed by all pupils in our Catholic schools at the start of each class day either in the classroom or after the flag ceremony. 
4) Beginning October 14, 2012, the Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Nicene Creed will be the form of the profession of faith that we shall use in all Sunday Masses and solemnities.

Let us avail of the opportunity before us to renew among our Catholic faithful love for the Lord, loyalty to the Church and pride in our Catholic tradition during the Year of Faith and through the years ahead.

Sincerely yours,


Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Friday, July 13, 2012

For the record: CBCP Pastoral Letter on the New Evangelization

The Sto. Nino de Cebu, whose sweet countenance converted
the first Filipino Catholics to the faith

Looking Forward to Our Five Hundredth
Go and make disciples... (Mt. 28:19)

We look forward with gratitude and joy to March 16, 2021, the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity to our beloved land. We remember with thanksgiving the first Mass celebrated in Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday March 31 that same blessed year. We remember the baptism of Rajah Humabon who was given his Christian name Carlos and his wife Hara Amihan who was baptized Juana in 1521. Our eyes gaze on the Santo Niño de Cebu, the oldest religious icon in the Philippines, gift of Ferdinand Magellan to the first Filipino Catholics that same year. Indeed the year 2021 will be a year of great jubilee for the Church in the Philippines.

We shall therefore embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church starting October 21, 2012 until March 16, 2021.

How opportune indeed that on October 21 this year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will add another Filipino to the canon of saints of the Church, our very own Visayan proto-martyr Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on the morning of April 2, 1672 in Guam.

The canonization of Pedro Calungsod will take place under the brilliant light of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth year of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the declaration of the Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 until November 24, 2013 by the Holy Father. The XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with the theme “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” will take place in Rome from October 7 to 28 this year.


All these events happening this year are bound together by the themes of “faith” and “evangelization”. Evangelization indicates proclamation, transmission and witnessing to the Gospel given to humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ and the opening up of people’s lives, society, culture and history to the Person of Jesus Christ and to His living community, the Church.

This “New Evangelization” is primarily addressed to those who have drifted from the Faith and from the Church in traditionally Catholic countries, especially in the West.

What we are being called to do by this task of “New Evangelization” in Asia is to consider anew “the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News” more effectively to our people. We are challenged anew to foster in the Church in our country a renewed commitment and enthusiasm in living out the Gospel in all the diverse areas of our lives, in “real-life practice”, challenged anew to become more and more authentic witnesses of our faith, especially to our Asian neighbors as a fruit of our intensified intimacy with the Lord.

Pope John Paul II at the Baclaran Shrine, 1981


The task stands on four pillars:

First, fostering and fulfilling the “missio ad gentes”, as a special vocation of the Church in our country, effectively involving our laypeople, our “Christifideles” brothers and sisters; our priests and seminarians; men and women in consecrated life.

Secondly, “bringing Good News to the poor.” Again and again, Filipino Catholics coming together to discern priorities, have seen that the Church here must become genuinely “a Church for and with the poor.”

Thirdly, reaching out to those among us whose faith-life has been largely eroded and even lost due to the surrounding confusion, moral relativism, doubt, agnosticism; reaching out to those who have drifted from the Faith and the Church, and have joined other religious sects.

Lastly, awakening or reawakening in faith, forming and animating in Christian life our young people and youth sector groups, in both urban and rural settings;

A nine-year journey for the New Evangelization has already been charted climaxing with the Jubilee Year 2021: Integral Faith Formation (2013); the Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); the Eucharist and of the Family (2016); the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021). These are the nine pastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines.

In the time before us, we will focus on these dimensions of faith, evangelization and discipleship, one by one. And it is most propitious that as we received the faith 500 years ago, so with the Year 2021we envision to become a truly sending Church.

In the face of a secularism which in some parts of our present world has itself become a kind of a “dominant religion”, in the face of the reality of billions who live in our time and who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we are, how challenged we must be, to enter into the endeavor of the “New Evangelization”! We for whom Jesus has been and is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life, -- how can we not want and long and share Him with brothers and sisters around us who are yet to know and love Him, who are yet to receive the fullness of Life for which we have all been created, and without which their hearts will be ever restless – until they find Jesus and His heart which awaits them?

May our Lady, Mary Mother of Our Lord, lead us all in our longing and labors to bring her son Jesus Christ into our time and our world, our Emmanuel – our God who remains with us now and yet whose coming again in glory we await.

Maranatha, AMEN.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Cebu
July 9, 2012

(Photos courtesy of Mr. Dennis Raymond Maturan)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A truly Catholic statesman

Hilario G. Davide Jr., Chief Justice of the Philippines from November 30, 1998 to December 20, 2005, is an example of that once-common but now dying breed of Filipino statesmen for whom Catholicism is the defining source of guidance not just for private life, but also for life in the public square. He represents a tradition now seriously threatened by the militant secularism that is increasingly pervading the Philippine political and social establishment. 

He was second to the last in the line of openly and proudly Catholic Chief Justices who headed the Philippine judiciary from the time of Pres. Corazon Aquino until the retirement of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in 2006. 

Whatever one might think of his actions regarding the "Edsa People Power II" revolution in 2001, there is no denying his fidelity to his Catholic convictions. One of my fondest memories of him, is of him leading the Philippine Senate in singing the Catholic Church in the Philippines' "Jubilee Song" (for the Great Jubilee of 2000) at the end of the last day of the Senate impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Estrada for the month of December, in the year 2000. 

The following passage is taken from an interview with him published yesterday by the American Catholic magazine, the National Catholic Register: Philippines' Constitutional Framer: More People, More Glory to God.

Talk about the People Power revolution of 1986.

These were turbulent times for the Philippines, times of oppression and injustice for the people due to the dictatorial regime of Marcos.

The leader of the opposition was Ninoy Aquino, who was exiled by Marcos and lived in America. When he returned in August 1983, he was shot and killed right on the tarmac of the airport. Many others were victims of persecution, many died, but we were empowered by the death of our icon, Ninoy Aquino, which galvanized opposition to Marcos. …

Then, in 1986, Marcos called a snap election, and there were so many irregularities, and we knew that Marcos won because of cheating and fraudulent reports. We believed that our opposition candidate, Cory Aquino, the wife of our slain leader, had actually won. This led to massive street demonstrations and the ouster of Marcos, and she was proclaimed president.

I was no longer in government at the time; my term had ended in 1984, and I was back home in Cebu. But when she called the constitutional commission of 1986, I was one of the 50 selected to draft the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. I was chairman of the legislative committee that formulated the power of the legislative body, and I was a member of other committees. We did our best.

You have said that you are proud that the word “love” is in the preamble.

Yes, our preamble is, I think, the best of any preamble of all the countries in the world because it mentions the word “love.” We ask for “the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.” The preamble is a prayer, asking the Almighty to help the sovereign Filipino people to establish a just and humane society and a government that embodies our ideals, hopes and aspirations.

A scene from the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Do you think that the bloodless People Power revolution paved the way for Eastern Europe to throw off communism three years later?

Yes, definitely; it became, really, the light of the succeeding events of our country and the guide for many of our people — and for many other people of the world in the years to come.

The Philippines stands out as the only nation, besides the Vatican, to prohibit divorce.

Our constitution prohibits divorce and abortion. We are anti-divorce, anti-abortion; we are pro-life, pro-family and pro-marriage under the constitution. The right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception is in the Bill of Rights. But, unfortunately, at one time, the Philippine legislature enacted a bill providing for the implementation of the death penalty for some heinous crimes; but it was repealed much later because it reflected badly on the Philippines, especially among the Catholics.

Has your Catholic faith guided your public service?

I would attribute what I have accomplished to my Catholic faith. I have full confidence in the providence of God. We are told by Jesus how to love our neighbors, and we have to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It is only by the grace of God that you can say that your life has been fulfilled. Even in our family, our children and our grandchildren are brought up being taught how to pursue this life of faith and service to others.

What do you see as the future of the Philippines, which is often called poor and overpopulated?

I am very hopeful for the Philippines and her people. In a recent survey by the University of Chicago, it was demonstrated that, of all the peoples of the world, the Philippines has the greatest level of belief in God. The people’s faith in divine Providence has sustained them, in time of calamity, in time of adversity. So you can see the Filipino people as the most “smiling” in the world. … Even with rising population, this is no problem in my view. We will have more workers, more people and families to work for the greater glory of God.