Wednesday, April 27, 2011
MACABEBE -- The National Government formally recognizes Felipe Sonsong's role in history with the unveiling of a historical marker on Sunday, May 1, at the San Nicolas Tolentino Parish patio here.
The official marker of the Pambansang Komisyong Pangkasaysayan ng Pilipinas, which narrates the biography of Sonsong, will be revealed to the public for the first time on May 1, the 400th birth anniversary of Sonsong.
Governor Lilia Pineda, Macabebe Mayor Anette Balgan, Macabebe parish priest Fr. Ted Valencia and officials of the Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies will join NHCP officers in the ceremonies, to be held after the 8 a.m. Sunday Mass.
Born May 1, 1611, Sonsong was a Macabebe soldier during the Kapampangan Revolt who later became a Jesuit missionary to the Marianas. He lived a saintly life and was wounded during a tribal uprising. He died on January 11, 1686 from complications from the wounds.
Because of his reputation for holiness, his fellow Jesuits wrote extensively about him, prompting historians to describe Sonsong as the "most written-about Filipino before Jose Rizal."
"Parishioners of Macabebe have petitioned the Archbishop to submit an application letter to the Vatican so that Sonsong's cause for beatification can begin," said Robby Tantingco, director of the Center for Kapampangan Studies.
"Sonsong has a good chance of being beatified because he really lived a life of heroic sanctity and he was better documented than Lorenzo Ruiz, who is already a saint, and Pedro Calungsod, who has already been beatified," Tantingco said.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz is a Tagalog, while Blessed Pedro Calungsod is a Cebuano.
Sonsong's quadricentenary on May 1 coincides with the beatification of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
The NHCP Executive Director, Dr. Ludivico Badoy, will represent the government in the unveiling of the marker.
"The marker simply means that the Philippines recognizes Felipe Sonsong as a historical figure," Tantingco said. "That's different from the beatification process, which is all up to the Catholic Church."
Although it took the Vatican only six years to beatify Pope John Paul II, most candidates take decades and even centuries. The Vatican appoints a committee of theologians, scholars, historians and cardinals to dissect the life, death and works of the candidate, as well as interview witnesses and experts, before making a recommendation to the Pope. Miracles are also required for candidates who were not martyred.
"If the process prospers, Vatican will decide if Sonsong's delayed death from wounds would constitute martyrdom, because that will waive the miracle requirement," Tantingco added.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 28, 2011.