Two of the faith-based leaders of the National Transformation Council, Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Archbishop-Emeritus of Davao; and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, lead the rallyists to denounce COMELEC for its “surrendering the peoples’ sovereignty” to SMARTMATIC.
(This is Archbishop’s column at Ulat Batangan January 2015 issue. NTC has launched a rally against COMELEC last January 20, the day after the Pope( left. At the CBCP general assembly, which also started that same date, he spoke about the National Transformation Council to his fellow-bishops assembled. No word yet about the CBCP’s reaction to his speech.)
QUO VADIS, NTC?
A prayer I recite a number of times a day, especially in between the rosary decades is believed to be requested by Our Lady of All Nations according to the Amsterdam seer in 1947. It goes like this “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all the nations that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war. May the Lady of All Nations the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our advocate. Amen.” Degeneration is all around us. There are blatant acts of exploitation of people; there is extensive oppression in many places, people being abused for others’ lust and pleasure. Persons, generally women and children, fall into dignity loss. Degenerates loose even their own self-respect resulting in dejection, suicide or similar form of self-destruction.
There are a lot of disasters all over, coming one after another; disasters often caused by those who damage the environment. God is not responsible for the disaster. Disasters do not have their origin in Him. He is the God Who builds and harmonizes. It is His adversary who destroys order and causes disintegration. Disaster is caused by sinfulness. Our unfaithful selves (unfaithful to God), our following the evil’s ways, creates disharmony in what God wants to be harmonious relationship between humanity and nature, between people and people, between man and his very self. To arll these disasters, only God has a remedy. Only the good will of man (what pleases God) can rectify the ruinous situation. Disasters can be averted if humanity turns back to God in prayer and penance (isn’t this the plea of the Blessed Mother in Fatima and elsewhere?).
Wars. We see wars all over planet earth. Sometimes people imagine those wars are out there so far away. That they are in many places regardless of how near or far they may be must be reason for concern. World wars would not be there if little wars do not exist. In the family itself, this basic unit of society, wars take place when parents and children do not care for one another, if siblings do violence to one another on fickle matters, when jealousy, suspicion, discrimination prevails.
There are degeneration, disasters and wars because the Spirit of God is not yet recognized. How important is it that we pray, to give way to the spirit of God to be among us to save us from degeneration, disaster and war. We need the help of Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit according to the teachings of the Catholic Church in order to help us overcome degradation and instead raise the dignity of the people in all aspects of their life. We should overcome, minimize and even eradicate disasters by prayers and by our dedication to integral progress according to the mind of God. Our transformation should help us become more understanding towards others, more dedicated to the service of people.
What do we really ask from every person? What should we promote among people? What we have learned from our religions, whether it be Islam or Christianity, Catholicism or Protestantism is that we need to be unselfish, we must totally eradicate our egocentricity. Selfishness causes all the disasters in our world. Our desire to please only ourselves, our attitude of seeking ourselves, while ignoring God and others: this is what hinders enduring happiness in ourselves and others. Selfishness has no place in our transformation project. Caring for others, concern for our fellow citizens of this earth, this is the crucial thing. Most of our government leaders care for themselves only. Whether we talk of ending dynasties, when we look forward to the next election, as a possibility for change, we are asking too much. We are dreaming. And such dreams can only turn into nightmare Our situation went from bad to worse because we choose selfish people to lead us. We allow them to bribe us so that they can continue and worsen in their selfishness at our expense, at the disadvantage of the poor especially.
Let us think of other possible leaders. We have experienced how many of our companions in the parliament of the streets in the past were people willing to give their life for the sake of others. They always talked about service of others. In the beginning they were sincere but in the end their vow of service for others gave way to seeking their own profit.
Transformation aims to urge everyone to care for others. This is what God wants and this assures salvation for humanity. A society composed of people who care for others, will be a very different society, a progressive and egalitarian society. Things cannot but be for the better. Continuing the drive to eradicate selfishness and to dedicate oneself for the good of everyone, following St. Paul’s advice, to think first of the interest of others, will without fail unravel for all a brighter future. This is what the national transformation movement is all about. Every citizen of this country needs to strive persistently to live less for himself and more for others. When each one lift others up, all are lifted up. When we put others down we all go down.
Finally, we have to obey God. To do so we have to pray hard, put all our trust in Him since He alone can save us. That is why the name of our savior is ‘Jesus’, which means God is my salvation. Where does this National Transformation intend to go? NTC wants a society where all men and women to live in selflessness, a life of living for others, a life of allowing ourselves to be stirred by God forward to a brighter tomorrow. In renouncing self-seeking, we must help preferentially the little ones and be little with them in order to lead our nation to a new and happier future. We can do a lot.
Quo vadis NTC? Where are you going National Transformation Council? Towards a new Philippines composed of selfless citizens willing to sacrifice themselves for other people. NTC hopes to bring about a society that gives glory to our God, recognizes His sovereignty over us and the primacy of Divine Will in all aspects of individual and communal life and allows His laws to prevail in the whole land. Then peace will truly prevail. Then disasters will be no more. Then the country will no longer be exposed to degeneration. We have to undergo a major transformation as persons, communities and nation. Our way of thinking should go through radical change too. That is why we should start right now to change ourselves and help others change so that selflessness, other-centeredness and godliness (fulfilling God’s will0 becomes the order o the day. This is the call of the Filipino people. If we can bring this message to others, the gospel of transformation, we can build a better world. Let us start by bringing about a better Philippines asking our leaders to step down from the leadership positions they occupy neither by God’s ill nor by a free election by people. Indeed they rule by deception, bribery and force which they use now to abuse the citizenry and to sin against God. The leaders of the future, in an atmosphere of transformation, will rise from below, truly self-sacrificing, who will bring deliverance especially to the least, the most neglected. #UB
(Tagaytay City) – The Archdiocesan Clergy of Lipa, with its two senior groups now at Marello House of Spirituality in this upland city, has just concluded the phase 1 of its on-going formation. The groups started their one-week stay at the OSJ-run retreat house on November 17 and will wind up Nov. 21 after lunch. The renewal program is handled by G.A.M.O.T., Inc from the Archdiocese of Jaro in Iloilo. It is called 5-5-5 due to its five modules, five days and five year complete program, suited for the age-bracketed Life Groups.
Supervised by the Lipa Archdiocesan Commission on the Clergy, headed by Fr. Cecilio Arce, the 5-5-5 program hopefully will start its second cycle early next year. Positive feedbacks from the previous Life Groups have re-inforced the will of the commission to continue the renewal program, a response to the call of the late now saint Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhoration “Pastores Dabo Vobis”.
According to Ms. Cyncz Baga, one of GAMOT, Inc. facilitators, the 5-5-5 program, aside from their own archdiocese, has been adopted by other (arch)dioceses like San Fernando (Pampanga), and Gumaca (Quezon), among others.
(Lipa City) – Originally starting September 9 to 11 as Triduum (3 days preparation) for the feast of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, on Sept. 12 at the now-famous Carmel Monastery Church, it was extended to five days as September 8 was added to celebrate the Vigin’s birthday with a colorful regatta around scenic Taal Lake with a volcano as its fulcrum. That was two years ago, this year being regatta’s third.
But the whole Marian Days is now in its eleven years, with another day added – September 7. This year, September falls on a Sunday. As early as 5am, two groups will be motorcading to Monte Maria, a mountain pilgrimage site on top of Brgy. Pagkilatan, Batangas City, overlooking South China Sea beyond the Verde Island. One group will take off from the Church of Mary Mediatrix of all Grace in Brgy. Antipolo del Norte in Lipa City, passing through three town before reaching Batangas City from the east. Another group, bearing the more than 400 year-old-image of Our Lady of Caysasay, leaves its shrine at Labac, Taal and will travel westward towards Batangas City.
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles will lead the Mass at Monte Maria at 9 am and after a short respite, the whole throng will have a motorcade going to the chapel of Mary at Mountain of Salvation in Cajil, Calaca, west of Batangas City. Once there, the Archbishop will again preside over the Eucharist. After that, they’ll climb upwards towards Laurel, Batangas passing through the plush subdivisions overlooking Taal Lake. At Laurel, the two images of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Meiatrix of All Grace and Caysasay)will be honored by two ladies reciting “luwa” (poem of praise). According to Fr. Edgar Villostas, parish priest of Laurel, the wives of the mayor and his vice-mayor will be the ones reciting the “luwa”, before the motorcade proceeds to Talisay for the regatta the following day, Sept. 8.
Fr. Jing Buensalida, parish priest of Talisay, said that a procession awaits the two images, with a third — that of Our Lady of Fatima, on its visit to the parish for the month of September — joining them. After the procession around the town, he would preside over a thanksgiving Mass.
As early as 5 am, those joining the regatta, will congregate at the Talisay Wharf, where Archbishop Arguelles would preside over the blessing of the participating boats. Through the Archdiocesan Radio Stations — DWAL-FM 95.9 Radyo Totoo and DWAM-FM Spirit 99.1 — participants coming from the 11 coastal towns of Taal Lake will be given the signal to proceed at a certain point near Taal Volcano ready to sail counter-clockwise upon the signal again of the anchor from the radio station. Prayers and songs will accompany the regatta participants coming from Talisay Church beamed over the radio stations. Each of the bancas is equipped with powerful radio sets; each of the bancas will have a PNP or Coast Guard as their leader. Safety and security are handled by the joint PNP-Coast Guard Provincial Commands.
After the Mass, where Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos who begged to skip joining the regatta due to her recent bout of illness but promised to be present at the Mass, is expected to lead the various local government officials of the province, together with the faithful of the Archdiocese and guests in attending the concelebrated Mass in honor of the Virgin, celebrating her birthday that day, Sept. 8.
After lunch, the images of Caysasay and Mediatrix will hie off to another pilgrim site, this time at Sto. Padre Pio at San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. According to Fr. Joselin Gonda, an elaborate welcome rites will await Mother Mary, where she would stay till the next day.
Sept. 9 is the official start of the triduum. Over at Dolor’s Pavillon at Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City, the three-day Priests’ Marian Conference will commence. Over 89 priests from outside the Archdiocese of Lipa will join the local clergy to listen to Fr. Bouqet, president of Pro-Life International. He will give a conference and lead the priests in prayer. These priests will thn motor to Padre Pio Parish for the afternoon’s activities of the triduum — consisting of another conference by Fr. Bouqet (for the general public) and the celebration of the Eucharist, presided over by the Archbishop.
The pattern will be repeated for September 10 and the following day — a morning conference for priests at Dolor’s Pavillon and the general public at another site — this time at San Jose, Batangas. The archdiocesan shrine of St. Joseph is administered by the Oblates of St. Joseph, who are celebrating their centennial of their missionary presence in the Philippines. San Jose is the first foundation of the congregation in the country. They came at the behest of the first bishop of Lipa, Bishop Guisseppe Petrelli, an Italian.
In the morning of Sept. 11, the pilgrims will go to the Cathedral of St. Sebastian at Lipa City. After the conference in the afternoon and the Eucharist following it, an overnight vigil to be highlighted by a conference on Exorcism by Fr. Jose Syquia, noted minister of exorcism of the Archidiocese of Manila.
By 4am of September 12, after the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, a dawn Rosary procession will begin leaving the Cathedral proceeding to the Parish Church of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace in Antipolo del Norte, some three kilometers away forom the Cathedral. Thousands of pilgrims, including those coming from other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA, are expected to join and attend the whole day of prayer and reflection during this Marian Pilgrimage to Lipa, intended for Peace and Reconciliation in the World and the Sanctification of the Clergy.
After lunch, the pilgrimage will go to Carmel grounds. After Fr. Bouqet’s last conference intended for the general public, the thanksgiving Mass to be presided over by His Eminence, Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal and joined by arch/bishops of the country will conclude the 6-day Marian Days of Prayer. After the post-communion prayer, acts of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be recited on behalf of thee nation and the province.
LIPA CITY, July 11, 2014 .- At his address today to the representatives of Lipa Diocese Catholic Schools Association, Archbishop Arguelles noted that “We are instruments of Catholic apostolate. That is why we must review what we are doing. Are we producing good Catholics among our students? Or are we just making money out of the desire of the parents to have Catholic education?
Archbishop Arguelles invited the LIDICSA member schools to a musical play about the life of Bishop Versoza entitled Ang Pasyon ni Obispo Alfredo Versoza ng Vigan at Lipa. He said, “I encourage you to watch this musical which will be shown in Lipa in the Cultural and Youth Center on July 26 and 26 which will have two showings a day, 2:00 in the afternoon and 7:00 in the evening.”
He urged them, “Please do not miss that. Please do not hesitate to tell that to the children. Many of the students in our schools supposedly belonging to the LIDICSA (Lipa Diocese Catholic Schools Association) do not know that we have saintly bishops in person of Bishop Obviar and Bishop Versoza. Many of them do not know that Our Lady Mary Mediatrix is identified with Lipa. The mystery of the mediation of Mary is not purely Lipa but we are blessed that here they talk so much about it. Everywhere in the world that refer to Lipa even if they do not know much about the Philippines they know about Lipa.
The Archbishop lamented that “Many of our students do not even know what the Blessed Mother asked of us. How many of you Catholic schools have time for rosary with the children. I know some do sometimes not every day. So that the children will know even without understanding it who the Blessed Mother is and why she asks us to pray with her the story of Jesus’ life that she lived and we must also live.”
“May i also extend invitation for you, and I do not say all the time, to be part of our Marian days of prayer. Many peoples have realized outside Batangas that we are really blessed and preserved from many calamities. Why? It is because of the special concern of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why? It is because of our special devotion to her in our prayer. Please get involved in the initiatives of the local Church as far as the environment is concerned. We are known all over the Philippines that we are ecological community. The government cooperates with us even with difficulty because some of them agreed to the destruction of our nature in exchange of money.
Archbishop Argulles concluded by posting a challenge to the member schools by saying, “asking the help of our holy bishops, let us really make sure that our Catholic schools are identified as Catholic. Our Catholic schools are non-profit and non-stock schools. Let us maintain our schools supposed reputation as a major agent of evangelization. So, Catholic schools should know what the Catholic Church is talking about called New Evangelization. You should know that. I hope you do! Thank you.”
(thanks to Sem. Jamester Atwood Arandia)
(April 2, 2014) – A musical stage play on the life and work of the first Ilocano Bishop and the first Filipino Bishop of then Diocese of Lipa, Bishop Alfredo Florentin Verzosa, is in the making. In a press conference held at SM Taguig, it was announced that sometime July this year, Bishop Alfredo Verzosa, the Musical will be staged first at SM Lipa City before going into other venues in Luzon, Visayas and even Mindanao. This is part of the nation-wide drive to introduce the late Bishop Verzosa to Filipino Catholics as his cause for beatification, and eventual canonization. The cause of his beatification has already been initiated in the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (Vigan) last year in an elaborate rites, presided over by Archbishop Ernesto Salgado, now Archbishop-Emeritus of Nueva Segovia.
Bishop Alfredo Verzosa was the first Ilocano priest to be elevated to the episcopacy. His staunch defence of the Catholic Faith during the Aglipayan schism was legendary. According to Mother Julie Micosa, MCSH, superior-general of the congregation which he later founded while serving as bishop of the then Diocese of Lipa, he was stoned and threatened with physical harm so many times by the enemies of the Church but miraculously he escarped them all.
He succeeded Bishop Guiseppe Petrelli as Bishop of Lipa, who presided over his consecration as bishop at the Cathedral of San Sebastian, thus making him the first Filipino Bishop of the Diocese of Lipa. According to Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, he was the Bishop who served the longest in the local church of Lipa. He was the prelate when the alleged appearance of Mary Mediatirx of All Grace, accompanied with the shower of roses, took place in the early 50s. When a commission of bishops declared this as “not extra-ordinary”, he was retired as Bishop and spent his remaining years at his home diocese in Vigan, where his tomb has been refurbished after having been forgotten and neglected until a young theologian-seminarian took notice of the inscription at one of supposedly tombs at the Cathedral’s side cemetery with the inscription “Bishop Alfredo Verzosa, Bishop of Lipa”. Fr. Erickson Josue, who did the biography of Bp. Verzosa as his paper for graduation in the seminary, is now a member of the historical commission that helps in the cause for his beatification.
Auditions are being held at the different SM branches in Lipa City, SM North in Manila, SM Pamapanga and SM Rosales, Pangasinan.
(San Nicolas, Batangas) – The program for the two-day Taal Lake Fest 2013, September 7-8, 2013, has been approved by the Executive Committee during its July 18 meeting held at the Dolor Pavillon, Antipolo de l Norte, Lipa City. Before the meeting, a Mass, presided over by Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles of the Archdicoese of Lipa, was held to emphasize the religious nature of this Taal Marian Regatta, now on its second year. The Mass also signalled the launching of this event, which starts the 10th National Marian Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace to culminate on September 12, 2013.
September 7 will be the Socio-Cultural part of the festivities around Taal Lake. For the second time, the municipality of San Nicolas will be the hub of these activities which include the launching of the photo contest, food and trade fair which would last till the following day, and cultural shows under the aegis of the Department of Education. By this time, intensive and final preparations of the boats and images, under the watchful eyes of the PNP, Coast Guard and Maritime authorities to ensure their safety, are being undertaken in teh different parishes surrounding the Lake.
The following day, boarding by participants in the fluvial procession around Taal Volcano is expecting to start as early as 4:00 am, in the different designated points in the 9 towns surrounding the Lake. This year, with the advice of the authorities, the participants will be limited to those aged 14 to 60 years old, discouraging people with disabilities to join the fluvial pilgrimage. By 6:00 am, after the blessing of the boats and participants to be led by the Archbishop, participated in by the other priests connected through the 2 radio stations of the Archdiocese, the boats will set to the middle of the lake and at a given signal will move clockwise round the Volcano, setting off to San Nicolas as the final port destination. To ensure the religious fervor during the trip, participants will follow the prayers led from the San Nicolas covered court. The boats are to be equipped with loud monitors. The radio stations — DWAM-FM Spirit 99.1 and DWAL-FM RAdyo Totoo 95.9 — will carry the prayers live for the participants to follow and participated in. This activity is expected to finish by 10:30 am.
After the fluvial procession, the Eucharistic sacrifice will follow at the covered court. With the theme, “Through Mother Mary of Lake Taal, Faith and Total Progress for Stewards of God’s Creation”, one of the highlights in this year’s celebration is the signing of Covenant for Environmental Protection and Preservation, especially the Taal Lake and Pansipit River. This would be participated in by the Municipal Mayors of the towns surrounding the Lake, the Church authorities and other government and non-government agencies, currently involved in safeguarding the area, following last year’s fish kill and other environmental problems that arose in the area .
The Executive Committee is headed by Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan, chairman with Mr. Pepe Alcantara as his co-chair. Members are the Parish Priests, Mayors and Cultural, arts and Tourism Officers of the 2 cities (Lipa and Tanauan), 9 Towns (Cuenca, Alitagtag, Sta. Terestia, San Nicolas, Talisay, Balete and Mataas na Kahoy) and 3 other parishes (Subic, Agoncillo; Balele, Tanauan City; and Pinagtong-ulan, Lipa City). Also in the Executive Committee are the representative of the Provincial Government and the Provincial Tourism Office, representatives of PNP, Coast Guard and Maritime. Ms. Edith Aandro, Ms. Aylene Acorda and Mr. Johnny Laylo comprise the secretariat; Ms. Angel Ortiz and Ms. Fritzie Tabones are the event organizers/coordinators.