Monday, December 25, 2017

My Last Christmas in Baclaran - Time to Say Goodbye

This is will be my 7th and last Christmas here in Baclaran. My resignation from CBCP takes effect on Dec 31, but I have already started saying goodbye during the National Gathering of BEC Directors and Coordinators on Nov 27-30 in Tagbilaran, during the CBCP Employees' Christmas Party on Dec 13, and during the formal turn-over to Msgr. Gabriel on Dec 18, two days before the start of the Christmas break of the CBCP offices. 

I haven't said goodbye yet to my Redemptorist confreres here in Baclaran. That will happen when I come back from the U.S. in February. I will be leaving for Chicago on the 2nd week of January to give a talk in DePaul University on “Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines and the Church's Response” on January 25.  I will also give a talk on EJK in Columbia University before I fly back to Manila. Then I will send my clothes and books to Cebu and ride my bicycle across Southern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, Northern Mindanao up to Iligan and from there take the boat to Cebu. 

When I was appointed as CBCP-BEC Executive Secretary over six years ago I decided to come to Manila on foot. Thus, I ran-walked for Life & Peace from Davao to Aparri covering over 2000 km in 56 days. My appeal was to put a stop to EJK in Davao & other cities, resume the peace process, put an end to mining & illegal logging. As I begin a new chapter of my life I will be biking 1,500 km for life and peace. My appeal will still be the same: stop the killing (EJK) all over the country, stop the war and resume the peace process, stop destroying the environment (stop mining, illegal logging &  coal-fired power plants). The biking priest rides again! I biked for life &  peace around  Mindanao in 2006 and around the Philippines in 2008. I did the Climate Ride in 2014 – from Manila to Iligan via Davao. This is probably my last ride. I am already 63 yrs old.  I will be starting a different mode of existence as a hermit - living a life of solitude, silence, prayer and writing till the end of my days. I have planned this a long time ago. I already received the permission of my superiors. 

Some of my friends and confreres are asking if this is the right move at this time especially with what is happening in our country. I should be more actively  involved in the resistance against an evil, dictatorial, brutal and corrupt Duterte regime. Am I fleeing the world  or escaping from reality? Have I given up the fight? I have done my best. Through the years I have been part of a group that monitored, exposed and opposed the activities of the Davao Death Squad. I have biked and ran for life and peace. I have helped the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Watch  investigate  the killings. I have been featured in various local and international documentaries on the killings. My summary report on DDS has been widely circulated and  is now part of the documentation submitted to the International Criminal Court. I helped set up a network of clergy and religious that provide sanctuary to key witnesses of the EJK including former members of DDS . I have been a convenor of the Network Against Killings in the Philippines. I have joined various prayer  and protest rallies. Now, I am witnessing a growing movement of resistance to this authoritarian and brutal rule.

The time has come for me to shift to less active and more contemplative mode of existence as a hermit in a mountain far from the city. This does not mean that I will cease being prophetic.   I will continue to speak out, using  my  laptop computer.  I will continue to write  in my blog, my regular column, my articles and books. My voice will echo from the wilderness to cyberspace. Above all, I will continue to resist evil through  prayer and fasting.   As St. Paul writes: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Eph 6:12).” In the struggle to exorcise evil in society, there is another weapon that Jesus recommends to his disciples: “This can only come out by prayer and fasting. (Mk 6:9)”  I believe that just as in the past God did not abandon his people but empowered them in their struggle against darkness, God will again do so now and in the future. Thus, day and night I will be praying. I will fast, eating daily – eating only at night. This how I expect to live in the remaining time I have left on earth. This is what I look forward to  this coming new year 2018.

1 comment: said...

You´ve done your part on the barricades, Padre! May God bless you abundantly in this new phase of your life and ministry. It´s a privilege to have met you on your pilgrimages across Spain, I ask for your powerful prayers for our ministry and home.