AN EASTER ENCOUNTER IN THE HINTERLANDS OF ABRA

Diocese of Bangued

 

john.jpgMalibcong, Abra: The Sacred Scripture is filled with mountain experiences from the Old Testament to the Paschal Mystery – the life, passion death and resurrection of the Incarnate Word. The mountain time and again is associated with what is sacred, the dwelling place of the Divine. Yaweh called Moses to commune with Him in Mt. Sinai where the Ten Commandments were handed over, the followers of Jesus went up to a mountain in Galilee and there heard the Sermon of the Mount – the compendium of the Gospel Message. The transfiguration happened on top of a mountain, the beginning of the final journey to Jerusalem until the disfiguration of Christ’s body on Mount Calvary.   

Go up onto a high mountain” (Is 40:9) was the opening of the Final Statement of our 16th National Biblical Workshop celebrated in the mountains of Bontoc. The same invitation challenged Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD, his mothresize-of-image-02.jpger and me to go up to the hinterlands of Abra to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with God’s chosen people peacefully living in their mountainously grand ancestral domain especially given to them by the Almighty. We started on Tuesday morning after visiting and praying with the family of former Condrado Balweg and blessing the remains of Corazon Molina Balweg in Ubbog. It was a real challenge driving for five hours the JPIBC van filled with ten boxes of BEC bibles brought by Fr. Oscar from ECBA. The parish of Malibcong nestled in a hidden valley surrounded by mountains heartily welcomed us with Fr. John Bala, SVD the parish priest – an Indonesian confrere who loves to do mission in the mountains ever since his mission in the Philippines. Fr. Oscar a full-blooded native of the place took care of Gacab and Taripan area while Fr. John was pasturing the surrounding communities of Bangilo. I (a native of Mindanao) was privileged to take care of the mother community of Malibcong.  

It was Wednesday (March 19) lunch when we met the bishop of Bangued Most Rev. Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD DD in Malibcong whose back was filled with earth-mud negotiating the mountains for his confirmation mission and patronal fiesta of Bangilo. The bishop was filled with joy meeting and serving his flock in the hinterlands missing his meeting with the Philippine President who visited the province of Abra on that same day. The preference of the missionary bishop was to meet the Lord who personified Himself in His brothers and sisters in the mountains. He possessed that zeal of a true missionary – a witness to the Word. resize-of-bishop.jpg

Malibcong mission is celebrating its Golden Jubilee as a parish this year under the patronage of St. Therese of the Child Jesus the patroness of the missions. Fr. Oscar aside from doing pastoral work administering the sacraments conducted the Basic Bible Seminar in his area while Fr. John the parish priest took the opportunity of visiting the people around Bangilo (from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday) when this writer takes care of the seat of his Parish. A Lenten Biblical Recollection was conducted in Malibcong in the morning of Thursday and in the afternoon was the celebration of the Last Supper with the washing of the feet before the breaking of the bread ushering the Great Paschal Triduum. The people took turns in their community vigil at the altar of reposition. resize-of-stations.jpg

On Good Friday morning the faithful gathered together at the church where they started with their general stations of the cross (each station was adorned indigenously with materials uniquely from the place) that went around the whole village for more than two hours. Almost the entire population joined the “stations of the cross” reflecting and meditating on the passion of the suffering Word. The seven last words of Jesus on the cross were spontaneously preached by those who were assigned. It was an event when Jesus was crying out those words using the language of the people – in Tingguian. The afternoon then was spent in venerating the cross culminated by receiving the Holy Communion.  The blessing of the new fire and the lighting of the Paschal Candle was done solemnly in the evening of Saturday when the Exultet was chanted followed by the celebration of the word. The people intently listened to the story of their salvation unfolding when at the end everybody was singing the Gloria to their heart’s joy with the ringing of all the bells as someone slowly opened the curtains uncovering the image of the resurrection. That night all the faithful pronounced again their baptismal vows. It was a covenant renewed. resize-of-eastermass.jpg

The bells were ringing as early as 3:00 o’clock in the morning waking up the whole village when at 3:30 the procession with the image of the risen Lord commenced from the Church going up to the mountain where they are to meet in a synchronized manner the communities from the other side who were bringing with them the image of the sorrowful Virgin Mary. After almost an hour of climbing the mountain the two communities met in an Easter Ceremony while the children dressed like little angels were joyfully singing the Marian Easter Song again in their own cultural language. After the jubilant meeting of the communities with the sacred images together they went down towards the side of the river where the mass of the resurrection was celebrated. The celebration of the word and the Eucharist on that Easter dawn was beautifully orchestrated by the meeting of the two celestial bodies, the moon coming down and the sun coming up from behind the mountains revealing the grandeur of creation around us singing Alleluia… the Lord is Risen! Each one was greeting everybody… Happy Easter!       

THE JPIBC -Vigan City  

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PASSION SUNDAY AT TAHANANG WALANG HAGDANAN

The triumphant entry of Jesus to Jerusalem came into life this morning commemorated by the resize-of-dscn0152.jpg“physically challenged” beloved sons and daughters of the Lord in a meaningful and prayerful manner as the community entered into the observance of the Paschal Mystery of the Suffering Word this Holy Week 2008.

 The celebration of the Passion Sunday started with the blessing of the palms remembering that jubilant entrance of Jesus into the Holy City when He at this time was not riding on an animal but on a wheel chair in a Home Without Stairways (Tahanang Walang Hagdnan) in a World Heritage City of Vigan. Fr. Dameanus Abun, SVD of Indonesia led the celebration assisted by Sr. Theo Magallanes, OSB the missionary to TWH and guest Madam Edith Gremlich of Switzerland. The celebration of the Word was focused on the solemn “dramatized” bbs-twh_4.jpgreading of the Passion according to St. John. The much improved reading of the Sacred Scripture carried the spirit and learnings of the members of the community during their (BBS) Basic Bible Seminar conducted by the staff of the JPIBC years ago together with Ms. Bernadette of China. The celebration continued and was highlighted with the Breaking of the Bread towards the community table of sharing “Pan de Sal” the main meager breakfast.

Together the community reflected on the Paschal Mystery with a deepened realization that the real joy of Easter will only be experienced by them if TOGETHER they journey with the Word in the mystery of His life, passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection. Observing the discipline of lent and holy week towards renewal of faith one has to do penance, work of charity and sincere prayers even on a wheel chair. By then, together with all the “physically challenged” around the world we look forward to join the whole Christendom to celebrate the Joy of Easter as the journey of the whole community TOGETHER will continue until that final victorious entry to the Eternal City where wheel chairs are “no more”. resize-of-dscn0160.jpgresize-of-dscn0160.jpgresize-of-dscn0160.jpg

To everyone… to all Witness to the Word… A HAPPY EASTER!

THE JPIBC

                                                                 

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DIOCESE OF ILAGAN: LENTEN RETREAT WITH BIBLIODRAMA ELEMENTS

ilagan-2.jpgThe Staff of the John Paul I Biblical Center headed by Ms. Fely Gines together with Ms. Flor Dacquigan conducted recently the Lenten Retreat using Bibliodrama Elements last March 7-9, 2008 at the Casa San Antonio, Camalagui, Ilagan, Isabela with the theme: “We are Shepherds, We are Sheep” (The Word in the Life of the Family; the Family is the Strength of the BEC).

Forty nine participants composed of staff of the Diocesan Family Life Apostolate, Diocesan Catholic Schools’ Teachers, Lay Ministers of the Word, Lectors and a number of Youth Leaders experienced a new way of approaching the Sacred Scripture through the Bibliodrama Elements. The well prepared and motivated participants journeyed together in one heart and one spirit for three days in a “more intense encounter” with the Word as they described the experience augmenting the meaning of the Holy Season of Lent. The life, mission, passion, crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord inspired and renewed these diocesan servant leaders in their commitment to continue to serve the People of God in their diocese proclaiming: “We are Shepherds, We are Sheep”ilagan-1.jpg

The Northern Luzon Commission for the Biblical Apostolate with the Bishop Chairman Most Rev. Renato P. Mayugba congratulates the BA core team of the Diocese of Ilagan who prepared the grounds as most of the participants have undergone the Basic Bibles Seminar conducted by the group. This Diocesan Lenten Activity was organized by the Family Life Apostolate chaired by Fr. Peter Rambac, Jr. the director and Sr. Tess Cordova, RGS the diocesan coordinator who were profused of the success of the said Lenten Retreat grateful to the staff of the JPIBC for Northern Luzon.

THE JPIBC

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ARCHDIOCESE OF TUGUEGARAO:

STUDENTS’ BIBLICAL RECOLLECTIONS

Pamplona, Cagayan:  Mr. Joel M. Bugtong one of the staff of the John Paul I Biblical Center for Northern Luzon conducted a series of Biblical Recollections to the students of Pamplona Institute in Pamplona, Cagayan last March 3-7, 2008 at the Parish Pastoral Center and Sky and Sea Resort. A total of 421 students divided into four groups (4-year levels) underwent another intense encounter with the Word for four consecutive days with one year level each day. The said students were filled with spirit renewed in their youthful life with the Lord as He speaks to them through the Sacred Scripture expertly facilitated by Mr. Bugtong. resize-of-pi-2.jpg

The JPIBC staff with the Northern Luzon Commission for the Biblical Apostolate chaired by Bishop Rene Mayugba congratulates the Administration and Staff of the Pamplona Institute headed by the Hon. Vice Mayor Bessy Bangalan for giving the chance and the opportunity of these students to undergo Biblical Recollections. The said institute of learning though non-sectarian in nature championed for two consecutive years in Bible Quizes (Hearts on Fire Gospel Festival -SVD Cagayan Edition) in the SVD District of Cagayan.

The Hon. Vice Mayor Bessy Bangalan called up by phone the director of the JPIBC Fr. Doms O. Ramos, SVD to personally express her heartfelt gratitude in behalf of the students and the entire academic community for sending Mr. Bugtong to facilitate the said series of Biblical Recollections for Students.

with reports from: 

THE JPIBC

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APOSTOLIC VICARIATE OF BONTOC-LAGAWE: BIBLIODRAMA RECOLLECTION FOR TEACHERS

Claveria, Cagayan: The whole Faculty and Non-Teaching Staff of the Assumption Academy of Mayoyao, Ifugao with Rev. Fr. Romeo Benitez, SVD their school director underwent for two days a Bibliodrama Recollection for Teachers at the SVD District House in Claveria, Cagayan last February 20-21, 2008. The said recollection was again conducted by the staff of the John Paul I Biblical Center for Northern Luzon headed by Ms. Fely Gines together with Ms. Zusan Asistin and Mr. Joel Bugtong.

The recollection was organized by the administrator of the institution in observance of the Lenten Season and to prepare the school personnel for the coming closing exercises of the school year 2007-2008. We congratulate then Fr. Benitez for taking care of the Biblical Spirituality of the teachers and non-academic staff of the academy.

THE BIBLIODRAMA RECOLLECTION IN PICTURES:

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THE JPIBC NEWS

CELEBRATING LIFE AND THE AFTER LIFE!

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The feast of the Sts. Felicity and Perpetua is supposed to be celebrated today March 6 (it was transfered on the following day). Our pioneer staff Ms. Felicidad Perpetua J. Gines of the John Paul I Biblical Center celebrates today her natal day. We, the JPIBC family together with all the members of the Board of Directors, Diocesan BA Coordinators, Bible Animators, WABINs join her in spirit and in prayers as she celebrates the gift of life. Happy birthday Fely!

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Rev. Fr. Aries Mina, the Diocesan BA Director of Alaminos also celebrates his 38th birthday today. Happy Birthday Apo Aries, may you have more birthdays to come… with our prayers for you- the Northern Luzon BA Family.

The same Northern Luzon BA Family extend our sympathy to Ms. Zusan G. Asistin (our JPIBC Treasurer) and her family over the death of her oldest brother +EMETERIO G. ASISTIN (50 years old, married with one child). Her brother Emeterio was born to eternal life very early this morning at 1:30. Together we pray for him that the Lord will open the gates of heaven for him and reward him for all the good deeds he has done in this life.

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THE JPIBC

Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity

Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity

(A CBCP Pastoral Statement)

Beloved People of God:Greetings in the peace of the Lord!

Today in the midst of restlessness and confusion, we come to you as pastors, for that is our precise role. We do not come as politicians whose vocation it is to order society towards the common good. Our message contributes to the flourishing of a democracy which must not be built only on political formulae.

We face today a crisis of truth and the pervading cancer of corruption. We must seek the truth and we must restore integrity. These are moral values needing spiritual and moral insights.

Therefore, we address this pastoral statement to everyone particularly you our beloved people and in a special way to our political rulers and officials.

We are convinced that the search for truth in the midst of charges and allegations must be determined and relentless, and that the way to truth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the present time when questions about the moral ascendancy of the present government are being raised.

For this reason, we strongly:

1. Condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political ladder;

2. Urge the President and all the branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found;

3. Recommend the abolition of EO 464 so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies;

4. Ask the President to allow her subordinates to reveal any corrupt acts, particularly about the ZTE-NBN deal, without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved;

5. Appeal to our senators and the ombudsman to use their distinct and different powers of inquiry into alleged corruption cases not for their own interests but for the common good;

6. Call on media to be a positive resource of seeking the truth and combating corruption by objective reporting without bias and partiality, selective and tendentious reporting of facts;

For the long term we reiterate our call for “circles of discernment” at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities, recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions, schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internal conversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerful discernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered and destroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at the grassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantly demonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with a difference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth and integrity we so deeply seek and build. We instruct our CBCP Commissions to take active role including networking for this purpose.

May the Lord bless us in this sacred undertaking to build a new kind of Philippines and may our Blessed Mother be our companion and guide in this journey to truth and integrity.

For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

+Angel Lagdameo, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
February 26, 2008

 http://www.cbcpnews.com/?q=node/1074