Pedro Calonsor Bissaya Prospects of a Teenage Filipino
- Fr. Ildebrando Jesus Aliño Leyson () - March 30, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Official Handbook on Blessed Pedro Calungsod Fr. Ildebrando Leyson is the expert on Pedro Calungsod here in our country, and is perhaps the person most actively involved in the promotion of his Cause. No one has done as much serious and solid historical research on Calungsod; no one knows him better, regarding what we can piece together about his early years, his joining Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores' missionary journey to the Marianas, his labors with the Jesuit mission in Guam, his personal qualities, and above all, his noble martyrdom.

Fr. Leyson has done his homework thoroughly and conscientiously. He has evaluated the facts he has found in the texts and documents he has studied with utmost care. He has (we might say) put together the available pieces of a jigsaw puzzle whose final image he could only guess at, to tell us what (probably) Calungsod was like, what some details of his life could likely have been, etc. (About his martyrdom, of course, we have much by way of solid and credible narratives found in reliable documents.) Anything that a painstakingly researcher could find, Fr. Leyson has searched out and made available to us. We can only thank him for his careful labor, and congratulate him for the book it has produced.

Though I must confess that I have developed very great interest in whatever concerns the life of Calungsod and his Cause, I did not expect to find that Fr. Leyson's book would be a page-turner when I started to read it. I read it through in a couple of sittings. I found much that was new to me, and details which were enlightening and even exciting. And Fr. Leyson's book is, surprisingly, not a "heavy" one in style and content. It is "reader-friendly" and should reach a wide audience of Filipinos everywhere.

The work is a mine of information especially for those who are working (giving talks, etc.) for the Calungsod Cause. It also ties the young proto-martyr with Manila and Cavite (young Pedro must have spent some time-even just a few days-in these places), with the Dominican Fathers (a Dominican bishop gave strong support to the Filipinos joining the mission to Guam) – little details like this which help fill out the "young years" of Calungsod. Materials drawn from the documents on Fr. de San Vitores provide much of what, almost certainly, Calungsod's work and activities were during the four years he was the trusted companion of the great Jesuit missionary. We see also why, most probably, the young Visayan was Fr. de San Vitores' preferred catechist, sacristan and mission helper. The account of the martyrdom is very carefully researched, given with all details possible; it makes exciting reading. And the appendix on "favors granted" - entitled "Everyone's Helper" – will make many devout people turn to Pedro Calungsod for his help and intercession. The young proto-martyr seems to have interceded for so many favors already. Incidentally, the letters from young "clients" have a special charm of their own. They tell us that teen-agers find in him a loved and faithful friend.

Is the book a serious historical work, or is it a work of popular hagiography and devotion? Since it is meant for a wide readership, Fr. Leyson has tried to put the two approaches side by side, with considerable success (I believe). Pedro Calungsod emerges from these pages in a more rounded-out portrait, more attractive and winning than ever. Through Fr. Leyson's book he will, I hope, inspire many young people to give their lives to the Lord and his redeeming mission in our portion of the earth.

Fr. Catalino G. Arévalo, S.J. Loyola school of Theology

This is a work of meticulous scholarship, reconstructing the life and sanctity of Pedro Calungsod. The book is written in a very readable style, well illustrated, complete with an annotated scholarly bibliography.

Pedro Calungsod was beatified in Rome by John Paul II on March 5, 2000. It can be hoped that his beatification will bear fruit. Fr. Leyson's work has contributed and will contribute much to that end.

FR. John N. Schumacher, S. J.  Ateneo de Manila university

It does seem that the masterpiece among would-be bios of the  elusive "under-written" Pedro Calungsod is the one that seemed to have flowed from the very pores of Fr. Ilde Leyson.

Renato E. Madrid Cebu CITY

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