Yesterday, on November 28, 2015, the former and the first Bishop of Prelature of Ipil, Most Rev. Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D., at the age of 93, has joined the Lord. Bp. Escaler was one of the two bishops who in 1989 accepted members of the first group of SCJs into his Prelature, entrusting them two parishes: Margosatubig (now Diocese of Pagadian) and Kumalarang (Diocese of Ipil).
All members of the SCJ Philippine Region express their gratitude for Bp. Freddy’s fatherly care and love and join the prayers in his intention. May he rest in Peace!
Biography of Bishop Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D. (1922-2015)
By Sch. Amado T. Tumbali, Jr., SJ
Asst. Province Archivist
The Most Reverend Federico Ocampo Escaler was born on 28 June 1922 in Manila. On his birthday in 1941, after finishing a degree in Ateneo de Manila, where he also studied his primary and secondary education, Freddy, as he had been called in the Society of Jesus, entered the Jesuits at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches. However, Freddy and his fellow novices moved to Ateneo de Manila at Padre Faura during the outbreak of WWII. They began Juniorate there on 1 June 1943 but eventually moved to La Ignaciana in Sta. Ana, and then, finally back to Novaliches. From 1945-1948, he studied and finished his M.A. in Philosophy at St. Robert Bellarmine College which was first located in La Ignaciana, and then in Novaliches. He was a regent from 1948-1951 at San Jose Seminary in La Ignaciana where he taught English, Latin, Tagalog, Spanish, Sociology, Philippine Government, and Geometry. He was also the Prefect of Discipline to the major seminarians and moderator of the Sodality, the choir, and INSTA. He studied and finished S.T.B. and S.T.L. at Woodstock College, Maryland, U.S.A. from 1951-1955. He was ordained deacon at Fordham, New York, U.S.A on 18 June 1954 by Bishop Thomas J. Feeney, S.J., D.D. and priest the following day by Francis Cardinal Spellman. From 1954-55, he did some special studies in Guidance and Counseling at Boston College and Fordham University, respectively.
After Fr. Freddy’s tertianship at Palacio del Santo Duque, Gandia, Valencia, Spain in 1956, his first assignment as a priest in the Philippines was Minister at San Jose Seminary in Highway 54. A year after, he was assigned Archivist of the Vice Province and Socius to Vice Provincial Francis Clark. In 1961, he became Superior and Minister of La Ignaciana Retreat House in Sta. Ana. While serving those competencies, he also gave retreats around the country.
In 1962, Fr. Freddy was Rector and President, while teaching Theology, at Ateneo de Davao. In 1966, he was back to Xavier House as Province Treasurer. While in Manila, he was also Chaplain of the Christian Family Movement. In 1973, he was assigned to Ateneo de Cagayan (X.U.) as Rector and President, while teaching Theology. Three years after, he was named as the first Bishop of then to be established Prelature of Kidapawan in North Cotabato. In 1976, he was ordained bishop on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Jaime Cardinal Sin at Manila Cathedral. From 1976-1980, he was in Kidapawan until his assignment to pioneer the newly created Prelature of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, where he dedicated himself for 17 years until his retirement on his birthday in 1997. Those indeed were tough years, including his first episcopal assignment. “Ipil and Kidapawan were hotbeds of conflict during the time,” as writer Christian Dy describes. Indeed, in 1985, Bishop Freddy was kidnapped and in 1995, another group of armed militants torched Ipil and left at least 53 dead.
Back in Manila, he continued pastoral work as Spiritual Director of Buklod ng Pag-ibig, Chaplain of A.I.M. and the Cenacle Prayer Group. Towards the end of 2015, a mass was discovered in his liver for which he declined further intervention. He died on 28 November 2015 in his family ancestral residence in San Miguel, Manila.