Blessed Pedro Calungsod, martyred in Guam in 1672, is now on his way to a definitive place on the altars of the Catholic Church. However, he is not the only Filipino to have been suffered for the Catholic faith in that island. This blog post is dedicated to another such witness for the faith: the Macabebe aristocrat and Jesuit donado Felipe Sonson (also spelled Songsong), who faithfully and devoutly served with Jesuit missionaries in Guam for almost 18 years, finally dying in 1685 after being seriously wounded in an attack that was brought about by hatred for the Catholic faith.
San Nicolas de Tolentino Church, Macabebe, Pampanga. Source.
Posted below are two readings regarding Felipe Sonson.
1) The following passage regarding Sonson -- reproduced on this blog post without its footnotes -- is from pp. 281 - 282 of the article of Fr. John Schumacher SJ, "Early Filipino Jesuits" [Philippine Studies 29 (1981) pp. 271 - 308.]
"...Felipe Sonson of Pampanga ... was among the members of the Jesuit mission in the Marianas who were killed by the natives in 1684. (He actually died in 1685. See the Tantingco article below. CAP.) He is mentioned several times in a series of documents listed in the Maggs Brothers Catalogue no. 442, most of them letters from various Jesuits to the Duchess of Aveiro, great benefactress of the Marianas mission (...) A letter of 30 May 1686 to the Duchess by Fr. Lorenzo Bustillo, S.J., is reported as describing "the martyrdom of Padres Pedro Canaano and Pabon [sic], and the death of Padre [sic] Pelippe [sic] Sonson, a native of Pampanga 'whose solid virtues were an example to his countrymen, and who, being a noble among his own people, is now, we believe, from his blameless life, a most noble citizen of the Realm of Heaven.'" A letter of Fr. Antonio Zerezo to Fr. Balthasar de Mansilla, dated in Agadna [Agaña], Guam, 17 May 1686, is quoted as saying: "We have also learnt of the death of the saintly Philippine, Filipe [sic] Sonson...." Finally, a note of the Duchess of Aveiro from about 1686 to Fr. Luis Morals, S.J., written on the back of a list of martyrs, says she is returning it 'because I think that of the five or six martyrs and the good Sonson we can make a report which I shall have printed." The compiler notes after the name of Sonson that he was "a native Catholic who perished with the Padres." The list itself contains the names of four priests and Bro. Pavon (a Spaniard), not that of Sonson. From these contradictory annotations and partial quotations, a series of questions arises: was Sonson a Filipino? was he a Jesuit or not? And if a Jesuit, was he a priest or a brother?
He was in fact a Filipino from Macabebe, Pampanga. Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde speaks of him as an "Indio Philipino" who was attacked by the Guamanians together with Bro. Pavon. He does not, however, give him the title of either Padre or Hermano, a fact which is also true in both the direct quotations from letters given above (as distinct from the annotations of the cataloger). He was rather a donado, as is explicitly noted after his name in the manuscript Jesuit catalog of personnel in the Marianas mission in 1681 - 1682. Born in 1611, he had joined the Jesuits in 1667, at the age of 56, and had spent the past thirteen years in the Marianas as a helper in domestic labors, particularly as carpenter. Hence he would have been 73 years old when killed with Bro. Pavon in 1684 (See the article below. CAP).