“Discard Coal-Fired Power Plant, and Save the Earth,” Ms. Lopez Urged City Officials

July 13, 2015

(Batangas City) –  “We did not know the dangers that a coal-fired power plant can cause to our health and environment,” a couple, both senior citizDSC_3239ens, commented after hearing Ms. Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN Foundation talk about CFPP, and urged the more than a thousand who attended the prayer-march, dubbed “Lakadasal” to fight for their right to save the earth “for the love of God, family, and for Batangas”.  The couple only heard of the event Sunday before the event when they attended Mass at Trinity Parish.  Being good Catholics,  they decided to rise up early and joined the prayer-march this Monday morning. This was their first time to attend such a rally where both of them proudly wore red shirts and waved flaglets with “No to Coal” printed.

The organizers sighed a breath of relief upon learning that city authorities finally relented and gave the permit for the march to proceed.  However,  in his text message which went the round among the clergy,  Archbishop Ramon Arguelles stood pat in his decision to proceed “with or without a permit, even alone, rain or shine”.  And they got police escorts more than the previous rally held last February.

People from the different parishes in the Archdiocese of Lipa, especially from Vicariate 3 where 7 out of its 10 parishes belong and would be directly affected by the CFPP in Barangay Pinamucan,  started to amass at the Capitol Site by 5:00 am, and by 5:30 am,  the sound system blared out the song which has become popular at the Archdiocesan Radio Station DWAL-FM 95.9 signalling the start of the prayer-march.  There were participants coming outside Batangas, led by Greenpeace Philippines, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Kilusan Para sa Kalikasan, who joined the thousands of students, lay leaders from the different parishes and religious organizations, local cause-oriented groups, religious men and women, led by the local clergy of the Archdiocese.  Even the pastors of the different non-Catholic denominations, belonging to the Batangas City Ecumenical Council (BCEC) marched alongside the Archbishop and Fr. Dakila Ramos, head of the Archdiocesan Ministry for Environement (AMEn), convenor of the Lakadasal.

Upon reeaching the Basilica ground, a concelebrated Mass was presided over by the Archbishop assisted on the stage by Fr. Dakila Ramos, Msgr. Rafael “Boy” Oriondo, pastor of Trinity Parihs and the most senior priest at Vicariate 3; Fr. Dondon Beredo, Vicar Forane and pastor of St. mary Euphrasia Parish; and Fr. Aurelio Dimaapi, pastor of the mother parish of the Immaculate Conception. In his homily,  Archbishop Ramon quoted heavily from Pope Francis’ latest encyclical “Laudato Si” which he said all the more made him resolute in fighting for Mother Earth.  He insisted that it is everyone’s duty to defend the integrity and balance of ecology, to be more responsible stewards of God’s creation.

Ms. Gina Lopez energized the people with her power point presentation which explained to the people how a coal-fired power plant works, its ill-effects on health and environment.  She pointed out the importance of fighting this JG Summit proposed power plant as this would affect the Verde Passage,  which scientists call the Center of the Center of Diversified Marine Life in this planet.  Each time she would ask the people if they would allow this,  the people gamely responded “NO!”.  All the more the people got agitated when she showed and let them listen to video recording of people affected by the coal-fired powere plants in Calaca, batangas and Masinloc, Zambales.  Ms. Lpez was on stage from 7:30 till 9:00 am.  After the Archbishop’s final message and blessing on the people,  he together with the Archbishop, some priests and other participants trooped to the City Hall upon the invitation of Vice-Mayor Junjun Berberabe, who has made known publicly his no-stand on the issue.

Lakadasal to go with or without City Hall’s Permit

July 8, 2015

(Batangas City) –  Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles is determined to go ahead with the scheduled prayer march, dubbed as LAKADASAL, on July 13, with or without permit.  This after the Office of the City Mayor denied permission to hold the prayer rally along the main thoroughfare of the city leading to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the final destination of the prayer march.  The City Hall’s response to the letter-request was signed by the City Legal Officer, Atty. Deguito.  It was recieved by Fr. Dakila Ramos, head of the Archdiocesan Ministry for Environment (AMEn), who was the signatory of the letter-request addressed to Mayor Eduardo B. Dimacuha of Batangas City.

The reason forwarded by the Legal Officer for the denial was that the City’s traffic ordinance prohibits the use of P. Burgos Street during weekdays for processions, except during public holidays.  However, Fr. Ramos said the same prayer-march was permitted last February of this year.

As planned and announced,  the participants would congregate at the Capitol Site, travel down the Hilltop Road to P. Burgos Street and end up at the patio of the Basilica where a Mass would ensue.  The date of the prayer March falls on a Monday.  In his communication sent to all,  the Archbishop repeatedly invites all to gather at 5:00 am, and would start walking 5:30 am.  The prayers, songs and reflections would be broadcast over the Church’s radio station, DWAL-FM 95.9 and would accompany the marchers.  The entire Lakadasal would be covered live by the station.  Ms. Gina Lopez would be the main speaker after the Mass, to be followed by a public forum.  Fr. Ramos said that thiis would be over by 9:30 am.

The letter denying the request offers the use of the main thoroughfare from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  The Archbishop countered by saying he would march even without the Mayor’s permit at the original time set.  He said that there are participants coming from outside Batangas, CBCP’s NASSA included.  They would join him in asking for the cancellation of the plan to put up a coal-fired power plant in Barangay Pinamucan, Batangas City.

Bp. Junie to be Installed 4th Bishop of Boac

March 15, 2015

(Lipa City) –  After his solemn consecration as bishop, the Most Rev. Antonio Marcelino M. Maralit, Jr. will be installed as Bishop of Boac by the Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, metropolitan archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lipa, on March 17 at the Cathedral of Boac.  He will be the fourth bishop of this island province/diocese, succeeding Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista, who was transferred to the Diocese of Imus in Cavite Province.  Other bishops preceding him are Bishop Rafael Lim, a native of the province and now deceased, and Bishop Jose Oliveros, now bishop of the Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan Province.

Among the suffragans of the Archdiocese of Lipa, it is only the Diocese of Gumaca which is still awaiting the appointment of its ordinary.  Gumaca has been “sede vacante” for almost two years.  It last Bishop, the Most Rev. Emilio Z. Marquez was transferred to the mother diocese, Lucena.  Msgr. Jose Lagdameo is the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Gumaca in the meantime.

Archbishops at Rally vs. COMELEC

January 22, 2015

archbpsat rallyTwo 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.

Archbishop Arguelles Speaks

January 22, 2015

(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.)


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

Lipa Clergy finishes cycle 1 of the 5-5-5 renewal program

November 18, 2014

(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.

Ready for the Marian Days; Now 6 days!

September 2, 2014

(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.  


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