Flicker of Hope

It has been already 10 months since the typhoon Sendong (Washi) hit Cagayan de Oro last December. It caused enormous damage to the city. Many people were killed (1259) and many are still missing (500). Many families lost their houses and all their possessions. Most of them (over 7000 families) are still hopeless and live in “temporary shelters,” on basketball courts, parish yards or in the compounds of the seminary and retreat houses.

The typhoon victims are patiently waiting for a land where they could relocate to and begin their normal life. The promise to help by Mayor comes very slowly. In fact, there are more discussions than actions. Also, the Social Action of the Diocese of Cagayan seems to work too slowly.

Hence, there is a new initiative of the Religious Orders in Cagayan. Six congregations of sisters and priests decided to help the affected people in their own way. They have agreed to make an all-out, combined effort, in order to build 550 houses for homeless families.

Last month almost 8 (eight) hectares of land were purchased for this project in Opol located in the suburbs of the city. Then, there was a “ground breaking” ceremony and the work began. At this time, the land is well prepared. Water supply and electrical connection have already been done. An architect, who volunteered to help in this project, is very positive about it and is planning to build 100 houses till the end of this year.

Each of the houses is meant for one family and will have a size of 28.8 sqm. One unit will cost ₱125,000 ($3000). The good news is that the international organization “Habitat for Humanity International” is willing to help in this project. They will subsidize more than 50% of the price of the new houses.

We are looking for other sponsors. Hopefully, in the middle of the next year, 550 families, victims of Sendong, will move to the new houses. The new village will have the name of the “Mother of Divine Mercy.” Beside houses there is also a plan to build a chapel and a basketball court. Time frame and success of this project depends much on the sponsors and benefactors.

Pedro Calungsod – New Filipino Saint

Saint Pedro Calungsod ImageBlessed Pedro Calungsod, a teen-age Catholic missionary who died a martyr in Guam more than three centuries ago, officially became the second Filipino saint on October 21, 2012 in canonization rites officiated by Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

Calungsod was proclaimed saint with six others during a public consistory, or an assembly of Roman Catholic cardinals, celebrated by the Pope at the St. Peter’s Square.

Pedro Calungsodwas a teenage native of the Visayas region of the Philippines. He was one of the boy catechists who went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Mariana Islands in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros.

Many accepted the Faith. But very soon, a Chinese healer, named Choco, envious at the missionaries, started to spread the rumor that the baptismal water of the missionaries was poisonous. The evil campaign of Choco was readily supported by some superstitious and immoral natives – the Macanjas and the Urritaos – who began to persecute the missionaries.

On 2 April 1672, Pedro – by then already about seventeen years old – and the superior of the Mission, named Padre Diego Luís de San Vitores, came to the village of Tomhom, in the Island of Guam to baptize a baby. But the child’s father, named Matapang, angrily refused to have his baby baptized.

Determined to kill the missionaries, Matapang went to enlist in his cause another villager, named Hirao. Matapang violently hurled spears first at Pedro. The lad skirted the darting spears with re-markable dexterity. Pedro had all the chances to escape because he was very agile, but he did not want to leave Padre Diego alone. He would have defeated his fierce aggressors if only he had some weapon because he was a valiant boy; but Padre Diego never allowed his companions to carry arms. Finally, Pedro was hit by a spear at the chest and Hirao finished him off with a blow of a cutlass on the head. After that, they also killed Padre Diego.

The assassins threw the bodies of Pedro and Padre Diego into the ocean. Those remains of the martyrs were never to be found again. Padre Diego Luís de San Vitores was beatified on 6 October 1985 while Pedro Calungsod was beatified on 5 March 2000 by Pope John Paul II.