Answering letters

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Last week, I wrote about the up and coming partnership with the Archdiocese of Cebu with PLDT-SMART for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity next year in the Philippines. As a result, I got this email from an unknown source questioning the holding of this historic occasion. I really don’t know if the reader read my Freeman column or The Philippine STAR column so I would be discussing these issues in both my columns. Here is his letter:

“I can’t seem to understand why you and the Archdiocese of Cebu joined the bandwagon of celebrating 500 years of Christianity next year. Isn’t it a history that the milestone of Christianity is 1565? So, why celebrate it next year 2021 if we take into account when Fray Pigafetta started christianizing Filipinos or for that matter Cebuanos in 1565?

I remembered in 1965, the Philippines celebrated 400 years of Christianization in the Philippines here in Cebu. I was a high school student at that time. So, why is this brouhaha of celebrating 500 years of Christianity next year when we still have 65 years to go to celebrate it. Maybe the 500th year of the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan and the Spaniards is better but not 500th year of Christianity and not counting the first mass in the country in Limasawa in 1521, for which there was no historical evidence that any Filipino was converted at that time. The CBCP has records on this and it cannot be distorted and denied anymore. Unless, if they revise history, then they will be committing a crime against history and will become revisionists, much worse than an ordinary criminal.

“So, stop this hullabaloo of celebrating 500 years of Christianity in this country next year. Again, we still have 65 years more before we celebrate such event. This is my opinion and have a good day.”

Although this letter was unsigned… it seems that this fellow is a senior citizen already as he was in high school at the time I was also in high school. But yes, some people just don’t see things as the Archdiocese of Cebu sees things these days.

Last Sunday, I had a TV show only in Cebu City entitled “My Catechism” with my partner Fr. Lucas Inoc, so I asked him how to reply to this question and he explained to me how do we Catholics enter and become Catholics? Of course the answer was through our baptism when our parents brought us to Church and gave us our names. This doesn’t mean to say that at that time, we were already cathecized into the Catholic Church. That only happens years later when you go to school, especially a school run by the Catholic church.

So let me say it here clearly and loudly that next year’s 500th celebration of the Christianization of the Philippines is not wrong. Sure when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi came to the Philippines in the year 1565, it was only then that he started to cathecize Filipinos or the Cebuanos living here, especially taking note that the family of Rajah Humabon kept the Statue of the Sto. Niño well-preserved. Although Legaspi bombarded the settlement of Cebu and burned many homes, it was noticed that the Sto. Niño was blackened from the fire that razed the place where the statue was kept.

Mind you, no one is trying to change history here or committing a crime. Sure, we respect the opinion of my letter writer…however we expect him to respect ours. Mind you, in 1521, there was an incident in the Catholic Church that led to the reformation called Protestantism led by Martin Luther. The first schism in the Catholic Church was between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. So let’s call the Martin Luther reformation the second schism in our Church. If today Christianity in the Philippines has a worldwide effect, it is due to the fact that most Filipinos are poor and have to work abroad, especially in Europe or the Middle East where they take care of children from Muslim families and help the empty churches of Europe restore its original oppulence and greatness. Mind you, my letter writer never commented on the changing of our Philippine history which the Americans granted to us on July 4,1946. But this was changed to June 12, 1898 when no nation ever accepted our sovereignty.

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I have two more letters, one is in response to the letter response of Rep. Lito Atienza, which is self-explanatory.

“Dear Mr. Avila, Greetings! As a regular motorist traveling Metro Manila & scenic Roxas Blvd for many years (50 years), I think all the mayors of Manila from Bagatsing onwards failed in managing the beautiful City of Manila. You are very right, Atienza’s nine years in City Hall was a complete failure too! Best regards & more power! Mario.”

Here’s the other emailed letter also in response to what I wrote about the Vortex of Michael Voris commenting on the death of Ruth Ginsburg:

“Dear Mr. Avila, I just finished reading your piece in today’s STAR. I wish to take sincere and strong exception to your assessment of Michael Voris and his The Church Militant. Very cleverly but viciously he makes
judgments that cannot be called fair. In subtle ways he is critical of a number of pronouncements of Pope Francis. As a Jesuit I am deeply distressed by comments he has made about the Society of Jesus. His position of the ‘superiority’ of the so-called Tridentine Mass and his position about receiving Communion in the hand is not that of the Catholic Church today.

“I am afraid that your column today may lead many well intentioned people astray. Can you write a correcting column? Having different positions on many issues is normal, but there are Christian limits.
Thank you, T.H. O’G. Email: [email protected]

I’m sorry but I’m not making any correcting columns on Michael Voris, whom I interviewed in Cebu on TV years ago. Mind you I wasn’t able to see his comments on the Society of Jesus. However, that is his own opinion and let me say here that you will see a lot of opinions in YouTube on how people talk about the Catholic Church in these time of the global pandemic, where many people believe that we are headed towards the end of the world, which I do not believe!

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Email: [email protected]

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