Learning from San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod as “Transforming Leaders”

A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva

The Bohol Chronicle

November 4, 2012

Study of leadership. My serious interest in political leadership began in the 1950s when Ramon Magsaysay became president. My doctoral dissertation in political science at the University of Michigan (1959) was on RM’s community development program. It was published as a book, Focus on the Barrio. Then I would spend three years over a decade in the 1960s in writing Ramon Magsaysay: A Political Biography that was published in 1971. On November 14, my second edition of the book will be launched, entitled: Ramon Magsaysay: “Servant Leader” with A Vision of Hope.

 

            In the early 1990s I initiated a leadership research program in the U.P. College of Public Administration that would later become the Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy (CLCD) of the U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance. Among the leadership studies it has published are those on Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Gloria M. Arroyo, and Ramon Magsaysay, on Senators Jovito Salonga and Lorenzo Tañada, and on Admiral Tomas Cloma. Other Center publications focus on government institutions and civil society. The point is that there is much to be learned by the study of leadership and citizenship in our nation-building and democratic governance.

 

            Learning leadership from religious leaders and institutions. Given the important role that religion and religious institutions and leaders play in our society, nation-building, and governance, it is high time that studies on religious leaders and institutions be given greater impetus. For example, a biography of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin and of Fr. Horacio de la Costa, S.J. would be very instructive. I am glad that a book has been written and seven films produced on San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.

 

            San Lorenzo Ruiz. The beatification of Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz by Pope John Paul II on his papal visit to Manila in February 1981 was a momentous event that excited and inspired the Filipinos as a predominantly Catholic nation. “Oh, at last, we have a Filipino saint!” we exclaimed when Blessed Lorenzo was canonized by the same Holy Father on October 18, 1987.

 

            Born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother in Binondo, Manila, about 1600’s, Lorenzo was educated in a Dominican school where he learned Spanish and catechism. He was  an altar boy, later a helper and clerk sacristan in Binondo Church. He became a good calligrapher.  He married and had two sons and a daughter. According to an account in the Internet, in 1636 Lorenzo left Manila for Japan to avoid trial or mistrial for being falsely suspected of a crime.

 

“The Tokugawa shogunate was persecuting Christians by the time Ruiz had arrived in Japan. The missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison, and after two years, they were transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. He and his companions faced different types of torture. One of these was the insertion of needles inside their fingernails.

 

“On 27 September 1637, Ruiz and his companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured by being hung upside down a pit. xxx The method was supposed to be extremely painful: though the victim was bound, one hand is always left free so that victims may be able to signal that they recanted, and they would be freed. Ruiz refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.

“According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, Ruiz declared these words upon his death: “Ego Catholicus sum et animo prompto paratoque pro Deo mortem obibo. Si mille vitas haberem, cunctas ei offerrem.” In English this may be rendered: “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for the Lord; If I had a thousand lives, all these I shall offer to Him.” In Filipino: “Isa akong Katoliko at buong-pusong tinatanggap ang kamatayan para sa Panginoon. Kung ako man ay may isanlibong buhay, lahát ng iyon ay iaalay ko sa Kanya.” This inspired Celso Al Carunungan to write To Die a Thousand Deaths: A Novel on the Life and Times of Lorenzo Ruiz.

“What miracle led to Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz’ canonization?  It “took place in 1983, when Cecilia Alegria Policarpio, a two-year old girl suffering brain atrophy (hydrocephalus) was cured through the supplication of the family and supporters to Lorenzo Ruiz. She had been diagnosed shortly after her birth and was treated at the Magsaysay Medical Center.”

San Pedro Calungsod. From the Internet we got this account. “Blessed Pedro Calungsod (c. 1654 – April 2, 1672) was a young Roman Catholic Filipino sacristan and missionary catechist, who along with Spanish Jesuit missionary Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious persecution and martyrdom on Guam [in the Marianas which at the time belonged to the archdiocese of Cebu]  for their missionary work in 1672.

 “No historical record tells us of Pedro Calungsod’s exact place of origin or who his parents were. He is claimed to be from Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Southern Leyte, Molo district in Iloilo, or Loboc in Bohol. He probably studied with the Jesuits from whom he learned Spanish and catechism. He was one of the boy catechists who went with Blessed San Vitores from the Philippines to the Ladrones Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros, according to a website www.pedrocalungsod.org.

“On 15 June 1668, San Vitores and a band of five other Jesuits arrived on Guam, the southernmost and largest island in a cordillera of fifteen volcanic islands. With the missionaries came a garrison of thirty soldiers, many of them colonials from the Philippines, whose responsibility was to protect the missionaries and to pacify the local people if need should arise.

“At this time, Spanish missionaries were actively converting Chamorros to Roman Catholicism. This relationship was peaceful at the beginning with the Spaniards, who were led by San Vitores. The initial reception of the missionaries by the Chamorro people was enthusiastic and reassuring. However, that changed over time when Chamorros grew resentful of the way their language and other customs were being replaced. Chamorro deaths had also increased due to foreign-borne illnesses. (www.guampdn.com) “On April 2, 1672, at around seven in the morning, Pedro – by then already about seventeen years old  – and San Vitores came to the village of Tomhom in Guam. There, they were told that a baby girl was recently born in the village; so they went to ask the child’s father, named Matapang, to bring out the infant for baptism. Matapang was a Christian and a friend of the missionaries, but having apostatized, he angrily refused to have his baby christened.

“Meanwhile, despite the growing distrust and animosity between Chamorros and the Spanish, San Vitores and Calungsod visited Matapang’s home and baptized Matapang’s daughter. It is unclear whether San Vitores came unannounced or if he had been invited into the home by Matapang’s wife.

“When Matapang learned of the baptism, he became even more furious. He violently hurled spears first at Pedro Calungsod. The lad skirted the darting spears with remarkable dexterity. Witnesses said that Pedro had all the chances to escape because he was very agile, but he did not want to leave Padre Diego alone. xxx Finally, Pedro got hit by a spear at the chest and he fell to the ground. Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a blow of a cutlass on the head. Padre Diego could not do anything except to raise a crucifix and give Pedro the final sacramental absolution. After that, the assassins also killed Padre Diego.

“Matapang took the crucifix of Padre Diego and pounded it with a stone while blaspheming God. Then, both assassins denuded the bodies of Pedro and Padre Diego, dragged them to the edge of the shore, tied large stones to their feet, brought them on a proa to sea and threw them into the deep. Those remains of the martyrs were never to be found again.

“The companion missionaries of Pedro remembered him to be a boy with a very good disposition, a virtuous catechist, a faithful assistant, a good Catholic whose perseverance in the Faith even to the point of martyrdom proved him to be a good soldier of Christ. (www.pedrocalungsod.org)

Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. On December 19, 2011, the Holy See officially approved the miracle qualifying Calungsod for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. The recognized miracle dates from 2002, when a woman from Leyte who was pronounced clinically dead by accredited physicians two hours after a heart attack was revived when a doctor prayed for Calungsod’s intercession. Blessed Pedro Calungsod was canonized on October 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“Transforming leadership” of deep, unshakeable faith and martyrdom in the service of God. In our faith as believers we can draw great strength and inspiration from  brothers San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod to bolster our people’s troubled spirituality and Catholic Church.  

By extension into our secular life and the public domain, we can learn from our two saints’ how we can be more serious in pursuing our constitutional vision of building “a just and humane society” and “a democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace…” From the clash of cultures in Guam between the native Chamorros and the evangelical Christians we can also learn how to be respectful of each other’s cultures in our own multicultural society.

Study of leadership. My serious interest in political leadership began in the 1950s when Ramon Magsaysay became president. My doctoral dissertation in political science at the University of Michigan (1959) was on RM’s community development program. It was published as a book, Focus on the Barrio. Then I would spend three years over a decade in the 1960s in writing Ramon Magsaysay: A Political Biography that was published in 1971. On November 14, my second edition of the book will be launched, entitled: Ramon Magsaysay: “Servant Leader” with A Vision of Hope.

            In the early 1990s I initiated a leadership research program in the U.P. College of Public Administration that would later become the Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy (CLCD) of the U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance. Among the leadership studies it has published are those on Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Gloria M. Arroyo, and Ramon Magsaysay, on Senators Jovito Salonga and Lorenzo Tañada, and on Admiral Tomas Cloma. Other Center publications focus on government institutions and civil society. The point is that there is much to be learned by the study of leadership and citizenship in our nation-building and democratic governance.

            Learning leadership from religious leaders and institutions. Given the important role that religion and religious institutions and leaders play in our society, nation-building, and governance, it is high time that studies on religious leaders and institutions be given greater impetus. For example, a biography of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin and of Fr. Horacio de la Costa, S.J. would be very instructive. I am glad that a book has been written and seven films produced on San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.

            San Lorenzo Ruiz. The beatification of Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz by Pope John Paul II on his papal visit to Manila in February 1981 was a momentous event that excited and inspired the Filipinos as a predominantly Catholic nation. “Oh, at last, we have a Filipino saint!” we exclaimed when Blessed Lorenzo was canonized by the same Holy Father on October 18, 1987.

            Born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother in Binondo, Manila, about 1600’s, Lorenzo was educated in a Dominican school where he learned Spanish and catechism. He was  an altar boy, later a helper and clerk sacristan in Binondo Church. He became a good calligrapher.  He married and had two sons and a daughter. According to an account in the Internet, in 1636 Lorenzo left Manila for Japan to avoid trial or mistrial for being falsely suspected of a crime.

“The Tokugawa shogunate was persecuting Christians by the time Ruiz had arrived in Japan. The missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison, and after two years, they were transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. He and his companions faced different types of torture. One of these was the insertion of needles inside their fingernails.

“On 27 September 1637, Ruiz and his companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured by being hung upside down a pit. xxx The method was supposed to be extremely painful: though the victim was bound, one hand is always left free so that victims may be able to signal that they recanted, and they would be freed. Ruiz refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.

“According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, Ruiz declared these words upon his death: “Ego Catholicus sum et animo prompto paratoque pro Deo mortem obibo. Si mille vitas haberem, cunctas ei offerrem.” In English this may be rendered: “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for the Lord; If I had a thousand lives, all these I shall offer to Him.” In Filipino: “Isa akong Katoliko at buong-pusong tinatanggap ang kamatayan para sa Panginoon. Kung ako man ay may isanlibong buhay, lahát ng iyon ay iaalay ko sa Kanya.” This inspired Celso Al Carunungan to write To Die a Thousand Deaths: A Novel on the Life and Times of Lorenzo Ruiz.

“What miracle led to Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz’ canonization?  It “took place in 1983, when Cecilia Alegria Policarpio, a two-year old girl suffering brain atrophy (hydrocephalus) was cured through the supplication of the family and supporters to Lorenzo Ruiz. She had been diagnosed shortly after her birth and was treated at the Magsaysay Medical Center.”

San Pedro Calungsod. From the Internet we got this account. “Blessed Pedro Calungsod (c. 1654 – April 2, 1672) was a young Roman Catholic Filipino sacristan and missionary catechist, who along with Spanish Jesuit missionary Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious persecution and martyrdom on Guam [in the Marianas which at the time belonged to the archdiocese of Cebu]  for their missionary work in 1672.

 “No historical record tells us of Pedro Calungsod’s exact place of origin or who his parents were. He is claimed to be from Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in Southern Leyte, Molo district in Iloilo, or Loboc in Bohol. He probably studied with the Jesuits from whom he learned Spanish and catechism. He was one of the boy catechists who went with Blessed San Vitores from the Philippines to the Ladrones Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros, according to a website www.pedrocalungsod.org.

“On 15 June 1668, San Vitores and a band of five other Jesuits arrived on Guam, the southernmost and largest island in a cordillera of fifteen volcanic islands. With the missionaries came a garrison of thirty soldiers, many of them colonials from the Philippines, whose responsibility was to protect the missionaries and to pacify the local people if need should arise.

“At this time, Spanish missionaries were actively converting Chamorros to Roman Catholicism. This relationship was peaceful at the beginning with the Spaniards, who were led by San Vitores. The initial reception of the missionaries by the Chamorro people was enthusiastic and reassuring. However, that changed over time when Chamorros grew resentful of the way their language and other customs were being replaced. Chamorro deaths had also increased due to foreign-borne illnesses. (www.guampdn.com) “On April 2, 1672, at around seven in the morning, Pedro – by then already about seventeen years old  – and San Vitores came to the village of Tomhom in Guam. There, they were told that a baby girl was recently born in the village; so they went to ask the child’s father, named Matapang, to bring out the infant for baptism. Matapang was a Christian and a friend of the missionaries, but having apostatized, he angrily refused to have his baby christened.

“Meanwhile, despite the growing distrust and animosity between Chamorros and the Spanish, San Vitores and Calungsod visited Matapang’s home and baptized Matapang’s daughter. It is unclear whether San Vitores came unannounced or if he had been invited into the home by Matapang’s wife.

“When Matapang learned of the baptism, he became even more furious. He violently hurled spears first at Pedro Calungsod. The lad skirted the darting spears with remarkable dexterity. Witnesses said that Pedro had all the chances to escape because he was very agile, but he did not want to leave Padre Diego alone. xxx Finally, Pedro got hit by a spear at the chest and he fell to the ground. Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a blow of a cutlass on the head. Padre Diego could not do anything except to raise a crucifix and give Pedro the final sacramental absolution. After that, the assassins also killed Padre Diego.

“Matapang took the crucifix of Padre Diego and pounded it with a stone while blaspheming God. Then, both assassins denuded the bodies of Pedro and Padre Diego, dragged them to the edge of the shore, tied large stones to their feet, brought them on a proa to sea and threw them into the deep. Those remains of the martyrs were never to be found again.

“The companion missionaries of Pedro remembered him to be a boy with a very good disposition, a virtuous catechist, a faithful assistant, a good Catholic whose perseverance in the Faith even to the point of martyrdom proved him to be a good soldier of Christ. (www.pedrocalungsod.org)

Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. On December 19, 2011, the Holy See officially approved the miracle qualifying Calungsod for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. The recognized miracle dates from 2002, when a woman from Leyte who was pronounced clinically dead by accredited physicians two hours after a heart attack was revived when a doctor prayed for Calungsod’s intercession. Blessed Pedro Calungsod was canonized on October 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“Transforming leadership” of deep, unshakeable faith and martyrdom in the service of God. In our faith as believers we can draw great strength and inspiration from  brothers San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod to bolster our people’s troubled spirituality and Catholic Church.  

By extension into our secular life and the public domain, we can learn from our two saints’ how we can be more serious in pursuing our constitutional vision of building “a just and humane society” and “a democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace…” From the clash of cultures in Guam between the native Chamorros and the evangelical Christians we can also learn how to be respectful of each other’s cultures in our own multicultural society.

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