Cebu town residents retrace 'Calungsod's trail'-A A +A
Sunday, October 21, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Heavy rains on Friday failed to dampen the celebratory spirit of Ginatilan residents, as the community followed a trail that they believe Pedro Calungsod could have taken.
A portrait of Calungsod now hangs from the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, where he will be declared a saint today, Sunday, along with six others.
In Ginatilan, some 135 kilometers south of Cebu City, the town plaza was abuzz with people making last-minute preparations, while some set up booths for Sunday’s feast, programs and parlor games just across the centuries-old San Gregorio Magno parish church.
The fiesta atmosphere was contagious. Many wore varied colored shirts bearing the official logo of the canonization of Calungsod, with words of pride for their town mate printed on the back.
The highlight of Saturday’s festivities was a 14-kilometer walk from Barangay Cagsing toward the town proper, as part of an effort to trace the footsteps of Calungsod, who is believed to have his origins in the mountain village.
Lay ministers organized a dry mass or liturgical readings, prayers and reflection on the life of the second Filipino saint, for about 500 members of the community, who braved the pouring rain until it was time to walk toward Barangay Poblacion.
The dirt road, which was recently overlaid with limestone, was not an easy trail to follow because of the torturous turns, slopes and areas just beside cliffs. It was a challenge for drivers of motorcycles-for-hire to use the road especially under the rains, as some portions were very steep and slippery.
The activity attracted residents, community members who claim to be relatives of the saint, as well as young people.
James Bustamante, 15, said he is unaware that when Calungsod was his age, the latter was already involved in teaching catechesis among natives in Guam. He knows the life story of the teenaged saint and he is in awe of the latter’s faith.
The sophomore high school student who resides in the nearby village of Kambalbal told Sun.Star Cebu he attended the foot procession to ask Pedro to pray for him.
Bustamante, whose mother works in Saudi Arabia, raised a special petition on Saturday as he asked for peace in his family.
He joined the contingent from Barangay Cagsing that was met at the highway by a group of drummers and more Ginatilan residents from other villages. They proceeded to the church for the mass that parish priest Fr. Gerardo dela Victoria celebrated.
In an interview, dela Victoria voiced hope that the merriment would not be fleeting in the town.
“Nagkadasig ang mga tawo, maayo unta na dili lang pila ka adlaw na ingon ani. Mao ang tahas sa Cebu, na ipadayon gihapon ang kalihokan diri sa mga sumusunod na adlaw (I hope the people’s enthusiasm will last more than a few days. This is the challenge for Cebu, to sustain this level of activity),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
He added that after devotees have formed themselves into a brotherhood or sisterhood, they would proceed to fulfill the mission of the church to preach and live the teachings of Christ.
Interviewed separately, Ginatilan Vice Mayor Dean Micheal Singco said the quiet town seemed to have been awakened by the announcement of the canonization of Pedro Calungsod.
“Dakong kalipay og garbo na ang among lungsod part sa kinabuhi ni Pedro Calungsod. Sa among pagsayod, wala mi proof taga diri siya (We are joyful and proud that our town has become part of Pedro Calungsod’s life. We still have no proof that he was from here),” he said.
The oldest church records, whether baptismal, marriage or funeral entries, date back to 1848. Pedro was estimated to have been born in the late 1600s.
The origins of Pedro Calungsod have not been determined but several towns in the Visayas have claimed the new saint as a town mate, as his last name is common in the region.
Barangay Cagsing in Ginatilan is known to have the most number of Calungsod family members in the town.
Jaime Calungsod Sr., 85, has openly claimed to be a distant relative of the teenaged martyr, claiming he can trace his family roots to the village.
His son, Gilbert, told Sun.Star Cebu that his father fulfilled a wish of going to Rome to personally witness the conferment of sainthood to a distant relative.
He made the trip without his wife, Lucila, who passed away last June 28.
The elder Calungsod’s companion is his son, Jaime Calungsod Jr., who is chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas, and family.
“He (Jaime Sr.) was so excited to go. He was always reminding us to buy the plane tickets. He left for Manila on Oct. 5 and for Rome on Oct. 12,” said Gilbert.
The popularity of the town has attracted pilgrims from different towns. Vice Mayor Singco said they recently received a caravan of visitors from Barangay Cantabaco in Toledo City and another from Talisay City.
Singco said the Municipal Government did not have to pass an ordinance for Sunday’s celebration. The cooperation between the parish priest, the Parish Pastoral Council and the government to organize activities to celebrate an important event for the town was spontaneous, he said.
When asked for their plans for the town, Singco said they would have to wait and see where the Visayan saint leads them.
The parish, meanwhile, will continue promoting catechesis starting from the parents, students and the community.
Dela Victoria said the devotion to Calungsod is strong and that he would like to direct the people beyond merely organizing associations to fulfilling the mission of evangelization within the community. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.