Bruce Lee fan assumes top CBCP post Sunday

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

MANILA -- Archbishop Socrates Villegas is more known as the protégé of the iconic Jaime Cardinal Sin, but what the people do not know is that it was martial artist Bruce Lee who inspired him to enter priesthood.

In an interview, the newly-installed President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) revealed that he was enlightened in one of the writings of the late action star from Hong Kong.

"I was a Bruce Lee fan all my life – as a high school student and until I came across one statement," recalled Villegas.

"He said: 'the cup realizes itself only by being empty.' For me, it's a call for sacrifice or for something greater than what I have been doing," he continued.

By closely following Bruce Lee, he said he saw him as being more than a martial artist and film actor.

"He was a philosopher more than a martial arts artist. He will lead you to reflect about humanity, about human existence… he was a very balance person," Villegas said.

Lee is known as one of the most influential martial artists of all time. He starred in several martial art films before he died at the age of 32 in 1973.

And as much as he admired Lee, the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate said it was also his collection of the former's posters, write-ups, and other collectibles that he chose to give up while he was inside the seminary.

"I chose to burn them during my time in the seminary. That was the time when we had to give up what we love the most," said Villegas.

Born on September 28, 1960 in Manila, Villegas was ordained to the priesthood by Sin on October 5, 1985 and served as Rector of Mary Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA Shrine from December 8, 1989 to May 2004.

He was appointed Bishop in July 25, 2001 and was ordained in August 31, 2001 to become the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila.

From his ordination as priest until May 2004, Villegas had also served as personal secretary of Sin.

Later on, he was appointed as Bishop of Balanga in May 3, 2004 and was installed in July 3, 2004.

In September 2009, he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to succeed retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

Last July, while he was still serving as the CBCP vice president, Villegas was elected by the CBCP Plenary Assembly as the new president.

He is set to formally assume the post as CBCP president Sunday, December 1, and will serve until November 2015.

Villegas will succeed Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as the 17th president of the influential bishops' group.

Aside from Villegas, also assuming their new posts beginning Sunday are Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles as CBCP vice president, Fr. Marvin Mejia as CBCP secretary general and the other new officers of the bishops' conference. (HDT/Sunnex)

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