Tuesday, March 31, 2009


EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS, GUAGUA PARISH. As a prelude to the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress, parishioners of Guagua Parish held their own eucharistic event, with their cura parocco, R. P. Cosme Bituin, who would be a speaker in the Pampanga section of the 33rd Congress. Dated 1936.

In 1937, the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress—billed as the greatest and most glorious spiritual event ever witnessed in the Orient—was held for the first time in Asia. It was a proud moment for the Filipino people when the Philippines, the only predominantly Catholic country in the Far East, was chosen as the venue for this world-renown gathering.

The idea of Eucharistic feast was conceived by a French woman, Emilie Tamisier, supported by the Bishop of Lille and a pious layman, Philip Vrau. These events were meant to inspire spiritual revival through a program of prayer, processions, religious assemblies, pontifical masses and other activities The original intent was to have a simple national religious affair, but the response was so enthusiastic, supported even by Pope Leo XII himself. And so, the First International Eucharistic Congress was held in the city of Lille, France in 1881, attended by an unprecedented 3,000 people.

The first editions of the Eucharistic Congress were held in Europe. In 1883, Ghent, Belgium hosted the event with 10,000 participants the world over. In 1893, the Congress was held in Jerusalem, the first to have a Papal Legate, Cardinal Gossens, in attendance. Rome was the fitting venue in 1905, and in 1910, the event traveled outside of Europe, to Montreal, Canada. For the first time, America hosted the event in 1926, with Chicago as the site of the 28th congress. In 1928, it was Australia’s turn and over a million devotees came to Sydney. Africa hosted the 1930 event and in 1934, pilgrims came in full force to the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires, the third largest city of the new world.

The idea of making Manila the seat of the next International Eucharistic Congress was launched by a layman, Benito Soliven during a sectional meeting of the First National Eucharistic Congress in 1929. (Kapampangans were avid participants of this national congress and a triumphal provincial arch was even erected for the said event). Met with approval, the members of the Philippine hierarchy brought the matter to Manila Archbishop Michael O’ Doherty who, in turn, submitted a letter of proposal to the Secretary of the Permanent Committee of the International Eucharistic Congress, Count d’Yanville. In 1933, the Archbishop went to Rome to plead before the Permanent Committee and soon after his return, he finally received a letter of unanimous approval for the holding of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila, from February 3-7, 1937.

Committees were organized with Most Rev. Gabriel M. Reyes D.D., Archbishop of Cebu as Honorary President. The Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Most Rev. William Finneman was named President. Manila gave a thunderous and warm welcome to its honored guests led by the Papal Legate, His Eminence Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, Archbishop of Philadelphia, who had first come to the Philippines in 1903 as the appointed Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan) and later, Jaro. One and a half million Catholics from the Philippines and from 54 other countries—including Serbia, Malta and Yugoslavia-- poured into Manila for the event, and in one mammoth procession, 600,000 participated. Pontifical masses held in Luneta and especially the one celebrated by the papal legate on the last day of the Congress were swarmed with hundreds of thousands of devotees and communicants. A magnificent altar was constructed for the occasion and the tabernacle alone cost Php2,200 minus shipping expenses from Canada.

Of special interest to local pilgrims were the Philippine Sectional Meetings of the Congress. These were held in different Manila venues, officiated by eminent religious leaders of the region and conducted in Tagalog, Visayan, Bicolano, Ilocano—and Kapampangan. There must have been a large representation of Kapampangan delegates to merit a separate meeting at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros. Moderating the 2-day sectional meetings was Rev. Fr. Jose Pamintuan, a Kapampangan priest assigned to the Sampaloc parish. The speakers for the February 1 meeting were Frs. Vicente de la Cruz (parish priest of Mexico) , Esteban David (Minalin) and layman Marcelino Aguas of San Fernando, Pampanga.

On the second day, February 5, Rev. Cosme Bituin, then the cura of Guagua, gave his talk. He was followed by Mabalacat-born Rev. Jose Dayrit of Sapangbato. (Eventually, Fr. Dayrit would leave the priesthood and start a family.) The last speaker was Mr. Juan D. Nepomuceno of Angeles, a town leader, noted businessman and one of the founders of Holy Angel Academy (now a university, the largest in Central Luzon).

When the XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress came to a close, words of praise and acclaim for the Philippines and its people reverberated throughout the city and beyond. Rev. James T. Gillis, editor of The Catholic World, summed up his experience in these words: “ One who has not visited the Philippines and has not known the religiousness of its people will be awed to find that his conception of the spiritual life of this country has an estimation of it far below the real thing. The Eucharistic Congress just closed will live in my memory as an event which is exceeding in its manifestation of the consuming devotion of the people to Christ in the Holy Eucharist”.

*138. ROSARIO MANUEL, Miss Pampanga 1927

ROSARIO MANUEL, Miss Pampanga 1927. A beauty of renown from Bacolor, made it to the national finals of the 1927 edition of the Manila Carnival.

True to its title as the “Athens of the Pampanga”, Bacolor was not just a cradle of culture, it was also the seat of beauty, echoing the fabled reputation of Greece as the land of beautiful goddesses--Hera, Aphrodite and Athena—who figured in perhaps, the 1st documented beauty pageant of ancient times, as judged by Paris.

Bacolor belles like Luz Sarmiento, Paz Sanchez, Consuelo Santos and Elisa Gutierrez were regarded as the town muses in the mid 1920s-1930s. A more notable titled beauty however was Rosario Manuel, crowned Miss Pampanga 1927. She was the daughter of Generoso Manuel and Gliceria Lacsamana of Cabambangan, now the town’s poblacion.

With her victory, Rosario gained the right to represent the province in the 2nd National Beauty Contest sponsored by The Philippine Free Press. Doe-eyed Rosario went to Manila for the competition to make her bid for the Miss Philippines crown. It was a tall order for Rosario, as among the previous year’s winners was a kabalen—Socorro Henson of Angeles, who reigned as Manila’s Carnival Queen of 1926.

In the 1927 edition held from February 12 to 27, 28 beauties from around the country participated. Two of the contenders that year were Amelia Romualdez, Miss Leyte, who bore a striking resemblance to her first cousin, Imelda Romualdez and fellow Kapampangan, Luz Besa of Tarlac. The judges were reminded that “in the selection of the most beautiful ladies, (you) shall consider, besides physical beauty, the personal charms and the general refinement and composure of candidates”.

In the end, Luisa Marasigan, Miss Manila, won as Miss Philippines. Her court included Miss Luzon, Iluminada Laurel (Batangas), Miss Visayas, Lourdes Rodriguez (Cebu) and Miss Mindanao, Nora Maulano (Sulu). Even then, Rosario Manuel’s beauty was immortalized in a special commemorative booklet issued by Free Press magazine. Rosario Manuel settled back in Bacolor, remaining unmarried and adopting young relatives to serve as companions for the rest of her life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

*137. BLESSED BE GOD: The Religious of Betis

SEMINARISTAS DE PAMPANGA. A group of Kapampangan seminarinas from San Carlos Seminary pose for a souvenir picture. Future priests Andres Bituin (1st person on top row) and Felipe Roque (4th from right, 2nd row) are from Betis.

The people of Betis have always been proud of their town’s reputation of having produced the most number of Catholic priests than any Kapampangan town. Betis, in Guagua town, has been described by Bishop Emilio Cinense as “a model parish, a truly Christian parish, a peaceful place to live in..”, a bedrock of Christianity as evidenced by the intense religiosity of its residents, then and now.

Among the first Filipino founders of capellanias (pious trust funds) in 17th century Philippines were Don Pedro Lumalong, Juan Panganiban, Francisco Gutierrez, Martin Tandang, Dna. Francisca Biguiad, Geronima Matig, Cathalina Lindon, Ines Julir and Isabel Taolaya—all from Betis. The perpetual grant was usually in the form of agricultural lands, the income of which was used to support a priest (capellan, or chaplain), who, in turn, was mandated to offer Mass for the soul or intention of the founder.

Also a resident of Betis is Don Macario Pangilinan (1800-1850), who is credited with translating the Tagalog version of Via Crucis into Kapampangan: “Ing Dalan a liualana ning Guinutang Jesucristo quing pamamusana quing mal a Santa Cruz”. The Archbishop of Manila, F. Jose Segui, granted an indulgence of 80 days to those who would pray it.

The first Filipino Doctor of Theology also is an accomplished Betiseño—Dr. Don Manuel Francisco Tubil (b. 17 June 1742/d.6 Sept. 1805). He earned his doctorate from the University of Santo Tomas in 1772. He eventually became a priest in 1770, and rose up the ranks of the church hierarchy, an accompished Indio among Spanish religious leaders.

A 1959 listing of the sons and daughters of Betis who chose religious vocations include the following:

1. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cosme P. Bituin D.P. (1929 Parish priest Angeles, Bacolor)
2. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Santiago Guanlao D.P. (1929 Vicar Forane)
3. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Andres Bituin D.P. (1920 Vicar Forane)
4. Very Rev. Msgr. Serafin Ocampo P.C. (1945 Diocesan Secretary of Lourdes, Angeles)
5. Very Rev. Roberto Roque (1916 Vicar Forane, San Ildefonso, Bulacan)
6. Very Rev. Felipe Roque (1920 Vicar Forane, Betis)
7. Rev. Jose Bondoc (1929 Parish priest, Candaba)
8. Rev. Genaro Sazon (1930 Parish priest, Porac)
9. Rev. Melencio Garcia (1936 Paish priest, Mexico)
10. Rev. Jacobo Soriano, (1936 Parish priest, Capas, Tarlac)
11. Rev. Bernardo Torres, (1916 Parish priest, San Rafael, Bulacan)
12. Rev. Florentino Guiao, (1938 Parish priest, Dinalupihan, Bataan)
13. Rev. Pedro Capati, (1939 Parish priest, San Rafael, Macabebe)
14. Rev. Hermogenes Coronel, (1930 Chaplain, Balayan, Batangas)
15. Rev. Pablo Songco, (1939 Parish priest, San Luis)
16. Rev. Francisco Mendoza, (1944 Seminary professor, Apalit)
17. Rev. Julian Roque, (1955 Parish priest, San Isidro, Guagua)
18. Rev. Norberto Coronel, (1947 Seminary professor, Apalit)
19. Rev. Alfonso Ducut, ( 1949 Parish priest, Anaw, Mexico)
20. Rev. Felipe Pangilinan, (1949 Parish priest, Mariveles, Bataan)
21. Rev. Victor Serrano, (1949 Parish priest, Maypajo, Caloocan)
22. Rev. Domingo Gullas, (1951 Parish priest, Laur, Nueva Ecija)
23. Rev. Fr. Gregorio Torres, (1951 Parish priest, Del Carmen)
24. Rev. Vicente Coronel, (1954 Asst. priest, Angeles)
25. Rev. Alejando Ocampo, (1954 Asst. priest, Betis)
26. Rev. Jose Guiao, (1955 Asst. priest, Macabebe)
27. Rev. Teodulfo Tantengco, (1956 Asst. priest, Arayat)
28. Sr. Rapahel de Jesus (Rosario Pangilinan), professed 1932
29. Sr. Celina de Marie (Asuncion Legion), professed 1949, St. Paul de Chartres, St. Paul College, Manila.
30. Sr. Jeanne Mary of the Holy Wounds (Ignacia Guanlao), prfessed 1953. Carmelite Discalced, Yule Island, Papua, Oceania, Australia
31. Sr. Cecilia S. Gozum, professed 1953, Religiosas Hiyajs de Jesus, Pototan, Iloilo.

All these Betis religious have apparently taken to heart their patron’s calling by following in his footsteps. After all, Santiago de Galicia, one of the 12 apostles, was also called by Jesus to preach the Gospel around the globe. With him as inspiration, these men and women of the cloth have stood fast in one spirit, with one mind, laboring together for the strengthening of Kapampangan faith and fidelity in the Lord. In Betis, many are called, and many are chosen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

*136. IN FINE PRINT: Kapampangan Periodicals

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT. A young Kapampangan man peruses a newspaper for the news of the day. Ca. 1920s.

Every day, as sure as the sun rises, most of our daily reads come in the form of national newspapers and tabloids that carry the latest bad news, showbiz chismis, sensational crime stories and political exposés. The big three, in terms of readership and circulation, include PDI, Manila Bulletin and Star. National magazines are even more varied and target specific—there’s a magazine for him, for her, for cuisine fans, for Manila’s 400, for entrepreneurs, call center agents, advertising people and even pet lovers. Whatever your interest, there’s a publication today that is certain to appeal to you.

Just a little over a century ago, Kapampangans only had one local newspaper that they read from cover to cover. El Imparcial/ E Mangabiran (The Impartial) was the first bi-lingual Spanish-Kapampangan newspaper that came out in the region, published by Mariano Lim in 1905. The local paper, it was said, was an offshoot of a national conference of newspapermen that was held in Bacolor the year before. Some contend however that the paper was circulated to boost the gubernatorial ambitions of the publisher.

E Mangabiran was a 4-page publication that came out thrice a week. The Spanish section had Jose Maria Rivera of Tondo as its first editor, while the local section was edited by well-known Kapampangan men of letters that included Crisostomo Soto, Felix Galura and Aurelio Tolentino. It is no wonder that literary pieces were included with regularity on the pages of E Mangabiran. The prose narrative, “Lidia” of Galura, for instance, was serialized in the said paper, delighting its loyal readers who were titillated by the love triangle of Lidia, Hector and a secret admirer known only as F.D. In 1912, the publication of E Mangabiran was transferred to Manila and it was around this time that Justice Jose Gutierrez David joined the editorial board.

E Mangabiran lasted until 1916, but another local paper, Ing Catala (The Parrot) took its place and became the most popular newspaper of Pampanga from 1917 to the 1940s. The independent weekly paper was published in San Fernando under the editorship of Atty. Serafin de Ocampo. Another paper that came out of Bacolor was Ing Alipatpat (The Firefly), which made a brief appearance from 1917-1919.

By the 1930s, Pampanga had seven newspapers—indicative of the intellectual activity and literary bent of the people. Aside from Ing Catala, there was also the weekly Ing Katipunan of publisher-owner Pedro Sison. Ing Katiwala, another weekly, was also published in San Fernando with Justino A. David as managing editor.

Angeles had its own Ing Cabbling, a weekly newspaper edited by Jose F. Sanchez. Ing Catimawan (1929-1940) was the first know Pampango magazine that came out fortnightly. It was published in Manila by Faustino Pineda Gutierrez. With a huge circulation of 10,000 copies, it was Pampanga’s answer to the popular national magazine, Liwayway. Ing Catimawan was the first to introduce writers’ fees as a favorite section of the magazine includes contributed literary materials from reader-writers. Also coming out from the presses of Manila were Timbangan, a vernacular paper published twice monthly, and Ing Capampangan, a fortnightly paper edited by E. Y. Cunanan.

The war put a halt to the publication of Kapampangan newspapers, but in 1957, The Voice of Central Luzon was established by Armando Baluyut, husband of renown poetess Rosario Baluyut. Today, it still is in print, known simply as The Voice. The late Fyodor “Ody” Fabian was one of its most recent and most fiery editors. The Observer is another popular tabloid in English published in Pampanga. In 1974, a Kapampangan magazine—Ing Campupot—was launched. The national newspaper chain Sun.Star launched Sun.Star Clark that eventually became Sun.Star Pampanga.

The rekindled interest in Kapampangan culture in the new millennium gave rise to a host of publications with pure Kapampangan slant like Pampanga Magazine and the more recent K Magazine, with Elmer Cato as Founder-Publisher. K Magazine folded when diplomat Cato was assigned to the United Nations in New York. In its stead came Singsing, the official magazine of the Center for Kapampangan Studies of Holy Angel University, which continues to enjoy local, national and international following, with feature articles ranging from light to scholarly reading.

“To read is to lead”, one contemporary adage says, and there is no better time to pick up a Kapampangan newspaper or a magazine than now. It is not just about getting updated about current events, but it is also a special way of rediscovering the beauty of our language, the tie that binds us as one Kapampangan nation.