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A Rather Common Name Has Become Like a Royal Robe Too Splendid To Wear

by Msgr. Ildebrando Jesus Aliño Leyson

This coming 21 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI will enlist the name of another Filipino in the roster or Canon of the Saints of the Church. The baptismal name of this second Filipino to become a saint is “Pedro”. He may have taken his name from the saint of the day when he was born, like for example, from Saint Peter the Apostle on June 29.

His surname is variedly spelled in the manuscripts of his Spanish companions and contemporaries as “Calonsor”, “Calongsor”, “Calansor” and “Calangsor”. The present version of the surname is “Calungsod”, with the accent falling on the “u” – “Calúngsod”.

The surname is of Visayan origin. It comes from the Visayan word “lúngsod” which means “town” or “citizenry”. The affix “Ca-” forms a noun which means “one’s co-[noun]”. Therefore, “Calungsod” means “one’s townmate” or “one’s fellow town citizen”. While today the Visayans normally use the word “katagilúngsod” (the “Ca-” is substituted with “ka-” plus the affix “tagi-” functioning as an indicative of a place of origin) to refer to one’s townmate, the surname remains to be “Calungsod”. The Spaniards may have written the surname according to how they could pronounce it, that is, perhaps with some difficulty in enunciating the “ng” and the terminal “d” – Calonsor – or it may have been actually the old version of the surname. Even today, when “lungsod” is inflected, the terminal “d” is alternated with an “r”; for example, “kalungsóran” (towns); “lungsoránon” (town citizen[s]). The same is true with other Visayan words that end in “d”, like for instance: “búkid” (mountain) > “kabukíran” (mountains); “tubúd” (spring) > “tuburán” (source, springs, having source or spring); “tíkad” (cultivate) > “tikáron” (will cultivate; will be cultivated).

Ignacio Francisco Alcina, S.J., a Spanish missionary who lived and wrote in the Visayas from 1632-1670, that is, during the time of Pedro Calungsod, spelled the word “lungsod” as “longsor” to refer to a “populated place” or “población”. Alcina was very familiar with the Visayan language because he lived in the Visayas for thirty-six years and did learn and speak the Visayan language, the words of which, he said, were easy to pronounce. He was well aware of the common occurrence of the union of the consonants “n” and “g” in many Visayan words. However, he complained that the Visayan natives somehow confused in their writing and pronunciation the letters “o” and “u” as well as the letters “l”, “r” and “d”.

Hence, “Calungsod” became “Calongsor”. And as it was further heard and pronounced by different persons of different tongues, ears and years, it became “Calonsor” and even “Calangsor” or “Calansor”. The confusion between the “o” and the “u” in the Visayan pronunciation is true even today. One can hear the surname “Calungsod” pronounced also as “Calungsud” or “Calongsod” or something halfway between these two ways of pronouncing it.

“Pedro” is a rather common Christian name. It is no wonder then that there had been, and still there are, other Visayans named “Pedro Calungsod”. There was a Pedro Calungsod who was baptized in the town of Ginatilan in Cebu on 23 May 1909. Much earlier, there was a Pedro Calungsod who was baptized in the town of Hinunangan in Leyte in 1854. There was also a Pedro Calungsod, Sr., who was born in the same town of Hinunangan in 1909. His son is Pedro Calungsod, Jr. In Molo, Iloilo City in Panay, there was only a Petrona Calonsod [sic] who was baptized on 30 June 1894, but one of her nephews was named Pedro Calunsod [sic] Cadunay. Andres Calungsod, who was baptized in Ginatilan on 17 October 1894 begot a son named Peter Calungsod who in turn begot Peter Calungsod II.

“Pedro Calungsod” may be a rather common name. But what makes this name very special today is how that boy from the Visayas of the 1600s gave it great honor. It has become like a royal robe too splendid to wear!



By Erma M. Cuizon

Saturday, March 17, 2012

WE KNOW a few things about Beato Pedro Calungsod who is said to have Ginatilan, Cebu as birthplace. In the 1600s, the Manila diocese, later in those early years considered the most powerful archdiocese in Asia, would reach out for missionary work to nearby islands, such as Guam. This was where Calungsod went to as sacristan and catechist and was killed by the unbaptized natives who distrusted the missionaries.

A year after his death, the Jesuits started to process the sainthood of Calungsod. But it took over 300 years later when he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000, together with 43 other martyrs of the church. Calungsod, beatified with other martyrs from Brazil, Thailand, Poland and Vietnam, will be the first in the group to be canonized as a saint on October 21, 2012.

I wrote a piece in April 2000 (UST publishing) about the national thanksgiving mass for the beatification of Pedro Calungsod at the Cebu Trade & Civic Center.  I would like to share this essay I wrote on that occasion about the sense of a saint’s touch on one as small as me, a Cebuano, an employee, plain, diminutive, human.

“The most personal aspect of your life is your belief in a supreme being. He’s someone bigger than you, greater than all the days of your existence, wider than unending space in dreams.

How can you explain the feeling to anyone?

“When your soul is touched, it’s touched. And no one can tell you it’s not it, not even your catechist or the Pope. Only you know when you’re touched.

“And so no one can tell you what to do with one day in your life when you felt good, so goood. How do you put into your personal life the story of a simple day in April made extraordinary by a reflection on a young martyr (who could have looked like a neighbor) who died in the wild parts of Tomhom in Guam over 300 years ago, for his God?”

“A friend and I were on our way to where it (the thanksgiving mass) was going to be held. But we fretted about where to park, felt the sun’s heat on my back at the ground (where’s the umbrella, the fan too?), fussed about which seat to take to get a vantage view of the altar (the front row was perfect).

“We sat there at the civic center full of our own lives (where Blessed Pedro had no role, seemingly)–thinking of the taxes to pay, the insurance premiums, the letter to mail and the call to make, the yard to sweep, supper to cook…

“Then the image of Pedro, on a small carriage, was taken to the audience. People threw flowers at his feet and waved, raising their lighted candles rhythmically, while a beautiful female voice sang the gozos alternately with a male singer, the strains floating, then spreading a few feet above us like a protective cloud.”

There was a hush in the crowd behind me when the carrosa carrying the life-size image of Pedro Calungsod slowly moved into our area, just before the ceremonies opened.

“I wasn’t quite prepared for the sight. It was like Fairy Godmother’s magic wand touching me. I promptly forgot my worries, the small, mundane concerns of living.”

Someone at my back whispered during the mass that in the absence of a picture (no cameras in the 1670s), church authorities modeled the look of Calungsod after a basketball player. It’s said a priest saw the player one day and knew in his heart the face was Pedro’s.

Then the carriage with the image passed near where we sat, hushing people in our side of the center. “Suddenly, at sight of that young man in bronze or Plaster of Paris, I moved away in mind and heart, away from the tangibility of the civic center, the urbanity of the afternoon, into somewhere deep inside myself where I am truly alone and yet seemingly complete.”

The well-loved Jesuit priest, Fr. James Reuter, said in a media interview later that the crowd was 200,000 strong.

One day in October this year will be another blessed day.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 18, 2012.


The 13th and the Last Feast of Blessed Pedro Calungsod

The feast of Blessed Pedro Calungsod is celebrated every 2nd day of April, the anniversary of his martyrdom. If the date falls within Holy Week or Easter Week, the feast is observed on the Saturday that immediately precedes Passion/Palm Sunday. If April 2 falls on a Sunday of Lent or on a Sunday of Easter, the feast is celebrated on April 1.

We do not celebrate the feast of Blessed Pedro in Holy Week or Easter Week, or on a Sunday of Lent or of Easter because on these days we have a more important celebration – the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise known as the Paschal Mystery, which is at the heart of our Christian Faith. Instead, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Pedro on the Saturday before Passion/Palm Sunday because of its significance: Blessed Pedro was martyred on April 2, 1672 which was the Saturday before Passion/Palm Sunday of that year. In the case of April 2 falling on a Sunday of Lent or Easter, the nearest Saturday is April 1.

The first feast of Blessed Pedro was celebrated on Saturday, April 1, 2000. It was the day of the National Thanksgiving Mass for the beatification which took place on March 5, 2000.

In this year 2012, April 2 is Holy Monday. Thus we shall celebrate the feast of Blessed Pedro on March 31, the Saturday before Passion/Palm Sunday. This will be the last feast when we address Pedro Calungsod as “Blessed” or “Beato”. Next year, we shall call him Saint or San Pedro Calungsod. And so,

The Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod
cordially invites the
Clergy, Religious and Lay faithful

to the

13th Annual Feast of Blessed Pedro Calungsod

March 22-30, 2012 – Novena

5:30 PM          Holy Rosary and Confessions

6:00 PM          Novena Prayers and Holy Mass

March 31, 2012 – Feast

5:00 AM          Dawn Procession from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral to the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro

6:00 AM          Holy Mass in English

8:00 AM          Holy Mass in English

10:00 AM        Pontifical – Concelebrated Mass in Cebuano with His Excellency the Most Rev. Jose S. Palma

2:00 PM          Holy Mass in Cebuano with the Altarboys

3:00 PM          Quiz with the Altarboys

4:00 PM          Pontifical – Concelebrated Mass in English with His Excellency the Most Rev. Julito B. Cortes

5:00 PM          Procession

7:30 PM          Pontifical – Concelebrated Mass in Cebuano with His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal

A Plenary Indulgence may be gained each day upon visiting the Cebu Archdiocesan Shrine of Blessed Pedro from March 22 – 31, 2012. Besides visiting the Shrine, one must go to Sacramental Confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Pope.


March 5, 2012 – The 12th and the Last Beatification Anniversary of Blessed Pedro Calungsod Before His Canonization on October 21, 2012

by Msgr. Ildebrando Jesus Aliño Leyson

Yes, March 5, 2012 is the 12th and the last Beatification Anniversary of Blessed Pedro Calungsod before his Canonization on October 21, 2012. But this does not mean that we will never celebrate the beatification anniversary anymore. March 5 will always – and should always – remain a very memorable day because it marked the end of the 328-long years of forgotten memory of this Visayan proto-martyr.

After the martyrdom of Pedro Calungsod on April 2, 1672 in Guam, his body was thrown into the deep ocean together with that of his Jesuit mentor Padre Diego Luís de San Vitores. The ground that was soaked with their blood was burned. These the assassins did in order to erase the memory of these martyrs from the earth. And so it seemed. In 1673, the Jesuits tried to process the beatification of Padre Diego, but the attempt went into oblivion. Although the accounts of the martyrdom on April 2 were written down by the remaining missionaries in Guam, these documents seemed to be consigned to the grave together with their authors.

But God is never vanquished and he does not forget. There is a song composed for the devotion to Blessed Pedro that goes:

Sulod sa daghang katuigan
Ikaw ning kalibutan hikalimtan
Apan didto sa Kahitas-an
Sa Dios dugay nang gigantihan

The Catholic Faith that was planted in Guam and in the rest of the Mariana Islands in 1668 did not die with Padre Diego, Pedro and the first missionaries. It remained. It survived. It grew, thanks to the blood of the martyrs and the perseverance of the succeeding missionaries. On September 17, 1902, the Marianas became an Apostolic Prefecture and were separated from the old Diocese of Cebu. On October 14, 1965, Guam became a diocese by the name of “Diocese of Agaña”. On March 8, 1984, Agaña became an archdiocese.

In 1981, when Agaña was preparing for its 20th anniversary as a diocese, the 1673 beatification cause of Padre Diego was rediscovered in the old manuscripts and taken up anew until Padre Diego was finally beatified on October 6, 1985. It was his beatification that brought the memory of Pedro to our day.

The Archdiocese of Cebu, where Pedro belonged by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, also started to process his beatification cause in 1994. The endeavor was rewarded when, on March 5, 2000, Pedro was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

Beatification is the act by which the Church, through papal decree, permits a specified diocese, region, nation, or religious institute to honor with public cult under the title “Blessed” a Christian person who has died with a reputation for holiness. The cult usually consists of a Mass and Divine Office (liturgical prayers) in the person’s honor. Formal beatification is a positive declaration, following a canonical process, that a person did practice heroic Christian virtue, or suffered a true martyrdom, and after death worked authentic miracles upon being invoked in prayer. Besides witnesses’ testimony to his virtues, evidence of one first-class miracle is required, though this requirement may be waived in the case of a martyr, the martyrdom being itself the miracle. In proclaiming a person “Blessed”, the Pope does not exercise his infallibility but his magisterial authority, for he does not declare definitively that the person is in glory. Beatification, then, does not demand faith yet gives moral certainty of its truth, and to deny it would be temerarious.

Pedro Calungsod was beatified together with forty-three other martyr Servants of God: André de Soveral, Ambrósio Francisco Ferro, priests and twenty-eight companion martyrs of Brazil; Nicolas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, priest and martyr of Thailand; Maria Stella Adela Mardosewicz and ten fellow sisters of the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, religious women and martyrs of Poland; Andrew of Phú Yên, lay catechist and martyr of Vietnam.

Of these beatified martyrs, Blessed Pedro Calungsod will be the first to be canonized as a saint come October 21, 2012.


Blessed Pedro center to open next week

By Linette C. Ramos
Sun.Star Cebu, December 2, 2002
Top Stories Section, Page 4

A FOUR-DAY pilgrimage and a Rite of Dedication will highlight the opening of the Blessed Pedro Calungsod Center next week, which the Archbishop of Guam and high-ranking government officials are expected to attend.

Bishops and priests and thousands of pilgrims will also join Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal during the pontifical mass and the Rite of Dedication on Dec.11 and 9 a.m.

Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. are among the special guests during the inauguration, which came after more than a year of construction of the center.

Calungsod, a Visayan, was martyred in Guam in 1672 along with a Jesuit priest, Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores.

The opening of the center is seen to promote the devotion to the martyr among Filipinos, especially those from the Visayas, where he is believed to have come from.

While the Archdiocese is working on the canonization of the beato, Church officials are also preparing for the center to be declared as the National Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in the country.

The center, located inside the Archbishop’s Palace compound along D. Jakosalem St., will also have a spiritual formation center, which priests and catechists will be able to use for their retreat, recollections and other spiritual activities.

It will also house the office of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Cause of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.

Because the center cannot accommodate all pilgrims in one mass, officials of the Archdiocese have scheduled eight masses daily from Dec.11 to Dec.14 for specific groups and vicariates.

Activities for the dedication of the church to Beato Pedro will start with the recollection of the Cebu clergy at the center on Dec.10.

After Vidal’s pontifical mass, four masses will be held throughout the afternoon for the Vicariates of Sts. Peter and Paul, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Most Holy Rosary.

Catechists, men and women religious of Cebu, diocesan and religious seminarians and the Vicariates of St. James the Apostle, Sta. Rosa de Lima, San Vicente Ferrer, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and Our Lady of Fatima will offer their own mass at different schedules on Dec.12.

The youth, Vicariate of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, St. Pius X, Lady of the Immaculate Conception, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Sahagun, Sto. Tomas de Villanueva and St. Joseph will also hold their pilgrimage on Dec.13.

On Dec.14, the altar boys, the Vicariate of San Antonio de Padua, San Guillermo de Aquitania, St. Charles Borromeo, St. John Mary Vianney, San Guillermo de Aquitania, Nuestra Señora Virgen dela Regla and Sto. Niño will offer masses on their own in the center.

The complete list of parishes under the vicariates is published in this week’s issue of the archdiocesan newsletter “Ang Bagong Lungsoranon”.

The youth, catechists, and acolytes will be given special attention during the pilgrimage as they are sectors that represent the works of Blessed Pedro while he was in Guam.


Calungsod family in Ginatilan sure of being Pedro’s descendants

By Linette C. Ramos
Sun.Star Cebu, March 7, 2002
Top Stories Section, Page 8

SINCE the Archdiocese of Cebu began its study on the life of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the lack of records pertaining to his roots left Cebuanos and the Catholic Church in the dark as to the martyr?s place of origin.

But the Calungsods of Barangay Cagsing in Ginatilan, Cebu are sure they are the martyr?s real descendants.

Jaime Tacao Calungsod, 75, said at least seven members of his clan in the southern town have been named after their ancestor.

Some were named Pedro, while his other relatives were named Peter or Pete.

At present, Fr. Ildebrando Leyson, vice postulator for the beatification and canonization of Blessed Pedro, said the birthplace of the martyr remains a mystery.

Although the Calungsods of Baybay, Leyte also claimed that the martyr was born in their province, Jaime said the Calungsods originally came from Cebu and later migrated to Leyte.

“Since the search for Blessed Pedro?s identity started, we have coordinated with the Calungsods of Leyte and they said he really came from Cebu but later moved to Leyte,” Calungsod also said.

But if the initial data gathered by the Archdiocese are to be believed, Leyson said records stating that Beato Pedro was born in Leyte is more credible than those stating that he originally came from Cebu, since the records date back to the early 1800s.

On the other hand, the writings retrieved by the Archdiocese saying he was born in Cebu were records from the late 1800s.

But none of the two have been declared yet as the actual place of birth of the martyr.

“Blessed Pedro was born in 1655 and between that and the early 1800s or late 1800s, a lot of things, which we do not know about, could have happened. We have yet to find an authentic written record of where he is originally from,” Leyson said.

Because of his devotion to his descendant, Calungsod said the Beato is responsible for his recovery from prostate cancer. LCR


Cebu group forms to promote Calungsod as patron of OFWs

Pundok-Cebu to also help in Calungsod’s canonization

By Roslyn D. Tambago
Sun.Star Cebu, April 5, 2000
Top Stories Section, Page 10

SOME 30 Cebuanos of the laity and the religious organized themselves into the “Pundok Ni Pedro Calungsod sa Sugbo” (Pundok Cebu).

The group aims to promote Beato Pedro Calungsod as the patron of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal challenged Pundok Cebu to help the church in gathering and integrating information that may lead to Calungsod’s canonization.

The group has come up with a monthly newsletter “Tambal sa Kamingaw!” (TSK!), which is posted in the Internet at www.cvis.net.ph/tsk.

Vidal led the launching of the webpage at the Archbishop’s Palace last Sunday, in time for the first feast day of Beato Calungsod.

Aside from featuring stories related to Beato Ca-lungsod, the newsletter also contains articles on personal experiences of devotees.

Pundok Cebu also aims “to play an active role in the development of Cebuano language and culture in the context of the larger Filipino culture.”

In promoting Calungsod as the patron of OFWs, the group wants to bridge Cebuano-speaking groups and individuals in the country and abroad.

The creation of Pundok Cebu was initiated by Fr. Carmelo O. Diola, who is also one of the prime movers of Pundok Rome.

Vidal welcomed this development, saying the group’s undertaking can be a step leading to Calungsod’s canonization.

The group could also help promote the martyr as a model of Christian faith not only in the Philippines but also throughout the world.

Before Beato Calungsod could become a saint, it has to be established that he is worthy to be a role model and “will contribute in the unity of the people,” Vidal said.

Witnessing and sharing experiences brought about by Calungsod’s intercession is deemed necessary for this end, he added.

Pundok Cebu’s webpage was designed by the Central Visayas Internet Exchange (Cvisnet ) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) 7.

In its maiden issue, the newsletter features Vidal’s homily during the March 5 beatification in Rome, the summary of the process that led to Calungsod’s beatification and some articles on Cebua-no language and culture.

It also features the Pundok ni Pedro Calungsod in Rome (Pundok Rome), which was organized in 1997.

One of its leaders, Diola, just returned to Cebu after a four-year study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

He is one of the exegetes (bible translator) of the Blessed Pedro Calungsod Bible Translation Commi-ssion’s project to translate the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew text to Cebuano.



By Atty. Eden SilvaBlessed Pedro Calungsod Choir
March 5, 2000, Rome, Italy on the occasion of the Beatification of Blessed Pedro Calungsod

Rome struck me with such an awesome force of history.

I heard the thunderous march of Roman soldiers as they enter Rome after  a successful campaign against  the enemies of Rome and the shouts of acclamation from its citizens. As I also heard the voices of Peter and Paul propagating to the Pagan Rome the Christian Faith and the subdued yet firm assent of the converts.

I saw the angry faces of the blood-thirsty citizens of Pagan Rome rejoicing the brutal death of Christians. As I also saw Christians huddled inside the catacombs breaking bread and singing praises to the Lord.

I heard the dying words of the murdered  Julius Cesar as he told his protégé  and confidant turned his murderer, “et tu, Brute?”. As I also heard, the last words of St. Peter professing his faith in the one and almighty God even in the face of death.

Then I saw the Rome of today, the remnants of the great Roman Empire, the great works of the renaissance artist, the splendid statues in their public plazas.

I saw the seat of the temporal power of the Roman Catholic Church, The Holy see. I saw the colossal basilicas, tombs of popes,  doctors of the church, and the venerable saints. I saw the pontiff, the successor to throne of Peter, Pope John Paul the Second.

Rome smells and feels of history.

With this great and monumental backdrop of  history,  on March 5, 2000, at the Vatican State, Rome, Italy, I saw the life of an ordinary lad pass before me, an ordinary lad who is known only as to have come from the Visayan region of the Philippines. An ordinary lad who volunteered his services to the Jesuit Missionaries to act as a sacristan, an ordinary lad who struggled to learn the teachings of the Christian religion, an ordinary lad who learned the language of the Chamorros of the Ladrones Islands so that he can teach catechism, an ordinary lad with a heavy altar stone on his back, who held and led the old, half-blind Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores over the mountains and forest of the island, now known as Guam , so that Padre Diego can celebrate mass in the villages.

I saw Pedro Calungsod as he fell to the ground as he was hit by a spear in his chest and as his assassin immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a cutlass.

I saw the resoluteness of an ordinary lad who sacrificed his life in defense of a minister of God and his faith despite having all the chances to escape death.

On March 5, 2000, I saw Pedro Calungsiond, an ordinary Visayan lad enter Rome to join the great history of a nation. Yes, on March 5, 2000, I saw Pedro Calungsod enter the portals of the Vatican State, the Holy See, to join the great history of our faith and to receive from the successor of the throne of Peter, Pontifix Maximus, Pope John Paul the Second, the crown of martyrdom.

At the particular moment that the Pope declared the beatification of Pedro Calungsod, the pilgrims from all over the world, belonging to different races and coming from varied social standings applauded and sung praises to this ordinary lad. I then felt a sense of belongingness, a wholesome feeling of brotherhood of men under one God.

Pedro Calungsod joined the ranks of the blessed with formidable power.

A power that builds, not destroy.

A power that strengthens, not weaken.

A power that liberates, not stifle.

A power that embraces, not suffocate.

Yes, I saw an ordinary lad who embraced death when called to die for his faith.

Brothers and sisters, you and I are ordinary people.

When San Lorenzo Ruiz was elevated to the sainthood, Pope John Paul the Second said:

Some of us are called to die for the faith. But all of us are called to live our faith.


Cebuanos requested to pray for Calungsod

By Christine Ramos
Sun.Star Cebu, February 16, 2000
Top Stories Section, Page 12

THE Cebuano faithful are asked to devote March 2 to 4 as days of prayer to thank God and prepare for the bea-tification of Pedro Calungsod on March 5.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal yesterday asked parish priests during their monthly retreat to hold special prayer meetings and activities for their parishioners on these dates, not only to inform the people about the event but also to prepare them spiritually.

Msgr. Achilles Dakay, Archdiocese of Cebu media liaison officer, said Filipino communities and other sectors in Rome will do the same.

Dakay said they have set the dates for the trip to Rome (Feb. 29, March and 3), although the delegation has not been finalized yet.

Yesterday was supposed to be the deadline for the final list of delegates, but his office still accepted candidates as others have backed out.

The beatification cere­mony in Rome will begin at 9:30 a.m., led by His Eminence Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square.

The time difference between Rome and the Philippines is six hours and a half, so at 4 p.m. or so on March 5, there will be a simultaneous pealing of church bells in Cebu to mark the occasion.

Calungsod will be the first Cebuano to be declared “Blessed.” He was a young catechist who accompanied a Jesuit missionary to Guam in 1668 to spread Christianity. Natives who did not agree with their teachings killed them.


Pedro Calungsod of Cebu, a forgotten martyr

By Napoleon G. Rama
Sun.Star Cebu, May 17, 1999
Top Stories Section, Page 9

If the history of the world were to be seen in four words, they may well be: Life is not fair. And not many will disagree. It’s everybody’s plainest experience, despite the civilized world’s great passion for the pursuit of justice and equality since time unremembered.

Consider the happening in Guam some 327 years ago. A Spanish Jesuit, Father Diego Luis Sanvitores, 45, and his Cebuano altar boy-catechist Pedro Calung-sod, 16, doing apostolic work, defying the threats of a terrible-tempered native who had objected to their baptizing his child, defending their Faith, were killed by a native named Mata-pang and a fellow-barbarian at about the same time.

Both suffered the same bloody fate-speared, their heads split by machete, on the same occasion, for the same reason, on the same apostolic mission. The priest had been called a martyr ever since and beatified in 1985. Calungsod has remained a mere casualty, at least up to this writing. But this is to jump ahead of the story.

The frailes’ historical documents on the matter weave a tale fascinating even to the present-day readers. They displayed drama, attention to details, intelligent comments, a dedication to truth, analysis, plots and subplots, poignancy. “Oh, the joy and pain of martyrdom” is just one of their more memorable editorializing.

A day before April 1 (1672), reads one document, there was rebellion in the Christian community in Agana, Guam. Four auxiliaries were killed by baptized Catholics turned violent savages again. The mission’s priests advised everyone to take refuge in the church and in protected residences.

Two did not heed the warnings: Fr. Sanvitores of the Society of Jesus, and his auxiliary Calungsod from Cebu, Philippines. Both of them were missionaries from Cebu because the Marianas islands of which Guam is the biggest were under the jurisdiction and command of the Cebu diocese. They could not be deterred from their apostolic mission to reclaim a lost soul, Esteban, a Filipino with the habits of a canto-boy who had been a good Chris-tian before his return to Guam.

Esteban had been shipwrecked in 1638 near Guam, had lived with the natives, was returned to the Philippines, but managed to go back to Guam where to him it was more fun to live, where there were free love, free sex and most probably even drinks, among other perks.

Listen to the frailes’ old writings:

“On April 2, 1672. Very early in the morning of this day the Father (Sanvitores) said mass on a portable altar and took the route to Tumon, a little village xxx. He took this route for one apostolic reason. He was in search of Esteban, a good Filipino Christian who with the shipwreck of Nao in 1638 had lived in these islands xxx. This Esteban had fled (from Fr. Sanvitores) to live the dissolute life of the natives xxx and was living in Tumon. The shepherd then went there in search of the lost sheep.” The principal killer, Matapang, had been baptized and was a favorite of the Father. But he apostatized for the faith.

The frailes-historians went into further details:

“Matapang said that baptism was a useless thing and it killed the children. With sarcasm, he invited him to baptize instead the skull which he had in his house.

Another native Hirao, not a Christian, tried to pacify Matapang. Instead Matapang asked him to join him in killing the Father. Hirao refused because of the affability and love with which the Father treated all… He accused Hirao of cowardice hence he consented.”

During the absence of Matapang, his wife, a Christian, offered her child to the Father to be baptized. This increased the anger of the barbarian.

The historians documented the killing:

“Hirao beginning with the companion (of the Father) Calungsod hurled at him some spears which he dexterously evaded, and he could have saved his life if he had fled. But as a good Catholic he preferred to die side by side with the Father and not to abandon him. Without any doubt we think that he would have first done away with the two enemies and saved himself and the Father, if he was armed, considering his energetic bravery. But the Venerable Father’s pious heart would not allow arms on his companions. Finally after having evaded many charges, one found its mark.
Then the barbarian rushed towards him and with a blow of the catana on the head, they finished him up.”

Matapang also speared the Father and parted his head with a machete. Both the Father and Calungsod were on an evangelical mission, both defended the Faith, both died martyrs at the hands of savages cursing their God.
Matapang then “insulted the crucifix of the Father. He hit it with a stone, stepped on it and dragged it, proffering at the same time, insults and blasphemies xxx.

“The body of the Servant of God and his faithful companion was dragged toward the sea and hurled there never to be recovered until the day of the universal resurrection.” There’s no further need of evidence that the young heroic Cebuano is a true martyr of the Church and worthy candidate for beatification and sainthood long overdue. It’s unfair to make him wait for the Final Judgment Day.

The highest form of sainthood, according to the rules of the Church, is martyrdom. If one is slain because of his Faith, a martyr of the Church, there’s no need for fastidious inquiry into his life as required of other candidates for sainthood or beatification.

A doctrine on canonization of martyrs was enunciated by Pope Pius XI: “Heroism lies only in death. Hence, there is no need to inquire into his previous life.”

Under this guideline, there ought to be little trouble in getting the Vatican to correct an ancient unfairness.

Indeed, Cebuano priest Fr. Ildebrando Leyson and Cardinal Vidal have been tirelessly lobbying for the beatification of Pedro Calungsod, gathering the records, documenting the heroism and martyrdom of Calungsod, politely pointing out that the unequal treatment for Sanvitores and Calungsod will be hard for the Church to live down.

The response of the Vatican has been embarrassed recognition of the 327-year-old oversight. Hopes are high that the Cebuano will in the near future win a beatification, the second Filipino saint, and that the ceremonies will be officiated by John Paul II himself in Cebu city, home of the forgotten martyr and cradle of Christianity in Asia.


Visayan towns claim martyr as native son

By Juan L. Mercado
Sun.Star Cebu, February 18, 1999
Top Stories Section, Page 8

Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo are jostling to claim, as their “native son”, a Visayan teenager, who could be beatified soon and elevated by the Catholic Church to the altars.

At the center of this polite tug-of-war is Pedro Calungsod, a lay catechist martyred in Guam in 1672.

“At least three towns in the Philippines today claim to be the probable birthplace of a 17th century young Filipino named Pedro Calungsod: Ginatilan and Tuburan in Cebu and Loboc in Bohol,” writes Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. of the Loyola House of Studies.

Iloilo has put in its bid, “Calungsods” in Leon, Molo, Tigbauan, Oton and other towns pore over yellowing family records for links to this Visayan youngster, now emerging from obscurity.

Who is this Pedro Calungsod?

And why are people in the Visayas praying that when Pope John Paul II visits Hong Kong later this year, he’ll fly on here. Then, at rites similar to that of Binondo’s Lorenzo Ruiz, he’d beatify Calungsod-last step before canonization as a saint.

Little is known of his background, Calungsod was only 14 when he left his hometown (in Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo or wherever) to serve with the Jesuit Fathers in Guam.

“We have no data whatever on his appearance,” Fr. Arevalo notes.

“The powerful Castrillo statue in Cebu makes him something of a heroic figure but that is more symbolic than factual.”

What the Vatican depositions and historical texts document are: Calungsod was young; a Visayan; one of 17 Filipinos assisting the Jesuit Mission in the Marianas-and his martyrdom, in April 1762, on a Guam beach with Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores.

That hard evidence led Pope John Paul II, in October 1985, to beatify Fr. de San Vitores as “protomartyr of the Marianas. The depositions-some of them taken within two weeks of the 1672 killings-make it clear the young and agile Calungsod could have turned tail and saved himself. He stood fast instead.

“Calungsod could have been easily beatified…if his inclusion in the San Vitores process had been pressed,” Fr. Arevalo writes. “But the diocese of Guam was in a hurry for the San Vitores beatification (in connection with an important Marianas church anniversary.)”

The Arevalo booklet is titled: Pedro Calungsod-Young Visayan Protomartyr. That’s the vision that prompted Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, to direct, in March 1994, a completion of a review by a 15-man diocesan tribunal of the Calungsod case.

Fr. Juan Ledesma, SJ of Manila meticulously documented the petition.

Since then, the Calungsod petition has been inching its way through the Congregation for Causes. This is the Vatican body that evaluates requests for canonization: from Mother Teresa of Calcutta to Mother Ignacia, foundress of the largest religious order of Filipinas (the RVM sisters).

Fr. Ildebrando Leyson of Cebu shepherds the case full time. Earlier, this month, Cardinal Vidal visited Guam (part of the Cebu diocese in 1672) and received additional documents.

“We cannot anticipate what the Holy Father will decide,” Monsignor Achilles Dakay of the Cebu archdiocese says. “All I can say is we’re preparing now for a beatification-just in case.”

The Arevalo monograph presents no new finding. But from the legal text, he has extracted the portrait of a Visayan youngster who towers in integrity and maturity of faith. It is a winsome human face.

“As I read and reread the sources and other texts, an image of the young donado has become something quite real to me,” the Jesuit theologian writes.

“Little by little one sees the Visayan teenager as something of a heroic character himself….” Seeds of heroic death are often found in the life that preceded it, he adds.

This is a country swamped by rampant secularism and “cultivated indifference” to eternal values. Cebuanos hunger for models beyond Councilors Jingjing Osmeña, Rodolfo Cabrera or Franklin Seno-even Erap, Imelda, Danding and Aniano. This Visayan teenager may emerge as one.