Un sacerdote è stato ucciso appena dopo aver celebrato la messa domenica nella cittadina di Gattaran nella regione di Cagayan all’estremo nord nel paese nell’isola di Luzon. La polizia ha identificato il prete come padre Mark Ventura, 37 anni, che ha subito due ferite da arma da fuoco una nella testa e una nel petto.
L’ispettore capo della polizia di Gattaran ha detto che l’uomo armato, con indosso un casco e una giacca, ha sparato a padre Mark all’interno della palestra in Brgy. Piña Weste alle 8 del mattino mentre era con un gruppo di ragazzi. Il killer è poi poi fuggito con il suo complice su una moto.
Gattaran, 60.000 abitanti circa, si trova a circa 95 chilometri a nord di Tuguegarao, la capitale della provincia di Cagayan e a 600 chilometri di strada da Manila.
La Conferenza episcopale delle Filippine (CBCP) ha condannato l’uccisione: “Facciamo appello alle autorità affinché agiscano rapidamente per perseguire gli autori di questo crimine e per consegnarli alla giustizia”, ha detto la Conferenza in una sua dichiarazione.
Il sacerdote, da più di sette anni nell’arcidiocesi di Tuguegarao, era ritenuto un sostenitore per la difesa del territorio contro le compagnie minerarie (oro e magnetite) e in favore dei diritti degli indigeni della provincia, gli Ibanag. Quasi la metà dei comuni di Cagayan ha sabbia e ghiaia ricche di minerali che possono essere utilizzate per scopi economici. Si stima che circa 374.400.000 tonnellate di materiali saranno dragate lungo il tratto di 68 km dell’area dalle compagnie minerarie, in particolare nei comuni a valle di Alcala, Gattaran, Lal-lo, Camalaniugan e Aparri.
Secondo la polizia il motivo dell’uccisione sarebbe invece legata a problemi di lavoro.
Nel dicembre 2017, un altro prete, p. Marcelito Paez, 72 anni, era stato ucciso da uomini armati tutt’ora ancora non identificati, dopo aver facilitato il rilascio di un prigioniero politico, a Jaen, in Nueva Ecija un centinaio di chilometri a sud di Gattaran.
The “rescue missions” recently undertaken by Philippine Embassy personnel in Kuwait to free Filipino household workers from the grip of their abusive employers are, from a Filipino standpoint, singularly laudable. Done quietly — and with the knowledge and cooperation of the host government — these proactive moves affirm the state’s responsibility to come to the aid of its nationals when they are in trouble and wherever they may be.
But, what was our government thinking when it decided to film these risky operations and upload the video on social media? Clearly, those responsible were trying to score propaganda points. They wanted to show Filipino workers abroad and their families that, for once, they have a fearless government that takes its duty to protect them seriously.
Did they think the Kuwaiti authorities would not see the video? Or, were they expecting that, out of goodwill, Kuwait would not object to such encroachment on its sovereignty, so long as these acts are well-intentioned? One need not be a diplomat to know that the wide dissemination of the video of these heroic rescues gave them a political color and nullified whatever humanitarian intent there was behind them.
No self-respecting government that believes itself to be in charge of its own affairs would tolerate anything that even remotely suggests that foreign governments may do anything they want to do outside their country in the name of protecting their nationals. That is exactly what the video of the rescue of distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Kuwait projected.
Of all people, it is officials of the Duterte administration who should have been conscious of this. This administration, after all, has been very touchy about foreigners commenting on Philippine affairs. The Bureau of Immigration had no qualms barring an Italian parliamentarian from entering the country on the ground that he had previously aired views critical of the administration. It recently ordered the deportation of an elderly Australian missionary nun who has lived among our people for 27 years on the ground that she has interfered in the political life of our country. Mr. Duterte himself has repeatedly refused to recognize the right of international bodies like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to manifest their concern for the human rights of Filipinos, particularly in relation to the administration’s antidrug campaign.
This kind of parochialism and arrogance seems out of sync with the global presence of the Filipino migrant worker, whose basic rights are defined in various international instruments like the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Where bilateral agreements between labor-sending countries and receiving countries have not been established, migrant workers are not without rights. The 1990 convention on migrant workers spells out in clear detail the minimum obligations and responsibilities of countries that host guest workers.
The sad reality we confront is that there is very little the Philippine government, by itself, can do to protect the interest and welfare of several million Filipinos who live and work abroad. Some countries accord foreign workers almost the same rights as their own. But the great majority treat their guest workers as though they belonged to an inferior category: Their labor is welcome, but their presence as members of the community is not.
Even if we wanted to, we cannot take unilateral action on their behalf without antagonizing the host countries. Relative to the sheer number of Filipino workers currently deployed abroad (between 9 and 10 million), our embassies and consular offices are hopelessly ill-equipped to handle the broad range of problems our workers encounter in the course of their overseas employment. We would have to reconfigure the composition of our embassies and consular offices—if not the very purpose and vision of the whole Department of Foreign Affairs itself—if we wanted to meaningfully respond to the demands of our present engagement in the world.
This is a global presence no one ever anticipated or wished for—not even the Marcos regime that started it all in the early 1970s. Ferdinand Marcos had meant the export of contract workers to be a temporary economic measure to tide the country over in a time of skyrocketing oil prices. The first OCWs or “overseas contract workers”—that’s how they were referred to then—were deployed under the auspices of government-to-government agreements. They were typically sent as part of a Filipino construction contingent. They did not have to pay fees to labor recruiters.
Alas, it did not take long before the government began to focus only on the remittances, while turning a blind eye on the long-term social and economic consequences of labor export. Recruiters and private manning agencies sprouted overnight and took over this lucrative business. A migrant mindset emerged among our people. Everyone felt happy as the Philippines rode the crest of a rapidly evolving global labor market.
Torn from their families and thrown into incredibly strange work environments, these “new heroes,” as we have begun to call our OFWs, have transformed the landscape of Philippine society. One cannot think of any economic sector that is not somehow dependent on their remittances. We can neither adequately protect our overseas workers nor realistically hope to bring them back. The least we can do is to stop preparing their children for the next deployment.
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) – The Davao Region achieved a milestone double-digit economic growth of 10.9 percent in 2017, the highest in the history of the region, owing to the stellar performance in the industry and service sectors.
Rosendo Aya-ay, chief specialist of the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) 11, said during the presentation of the 2017 Report on the Regional Economy of the Davao Region at the Apo View Hotel Davao Thursday that the region’s growth surpassed its 9.5-percent growth in 2016 and was the second fastest among the country’s 17 regions and the fastest in Mindanao.
Aya-ay said that the region’s 2017 gross regional domestic product was higher compared with the national average of 6.7 percent.
The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), identified as a predominantly industrial region, posted the fastest growth rate at 12.1 percent while Davao, coming in second, was identified as a predominantly services-based region, he said.
The third fastest growing region was Central Luzon at 9.3 percent; Western Visayas, 8.4 percent; Soccsksargen, 8.2 percent; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 7.3 percent; Cagayan Valley, 7.2 percent; CALABARZON, 6.7 percent; MIMAROPA, 6.2 percent; National Capital Region, 7.4 percent; Northern Mindanao, 5.9 percent; Ilocos Region, 5.8 percent; Bicol and Central Visayas both obtained 5.1 percent; CARAGA, 4.3 percent; and Eastern Visayas, 1.8 percent.
Di oggi la notizia che, secondo le autorità filippine, la suora australiana Patricia Fox deve lasciare le Filippine per aver violato i termini nel suo visto missionario.
Il portavoce presidenziale Harry Roque ha rilasciato questa dichiarazione dopo che il Bureau of Immigration (BI) ha confermato l’ordine di qualche giorno fa e imposto alla suora australiana Patricia Fox di lasciare entro 30 giorni il paese per il suo coinvolgimento in una ‘politica faziosa’. In pratica le viene abolito il privilegio di possedere un visto missionario perché la sua attività ha violato i termini e le condizioni del visto stesso meglio conosciuto come 9G, visto che viene rilasciato in termini favorevoli ai missionari per il loro contributo “allo sviluppo morale e spirituale del popolo filippino”. In realtà si tratta di un visto di lavoro (Commonwealth Act No. 613 del 1940 Sec. 9 (g) quando le Filippine erano ancora amministrate dagli Stati Uniti (Sec. 51)) che consente ai datori di lavoro nelle Filippine di assumere cittadini stranieri con competenze, qualifiche ed esperienza che si ritengono essere ancora carenti nelle Filippine.
Leggendo il Commowelth Act No. 613 le uniche possibili ragioni contro sister Pat (una straniera) sono alla sezione Deportazione, Sec. 31 (a) 8. dove si dice che bisogna mandare via: “Any alien who believes in, advises, advocates or teaches the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the Philippines, or of constituted law and authority, or who disbelieves in or is opposed to organized government or who advises, advocates, or teaches the assault or assassination of public officials because of their office, or who advises, advocates, or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining, advocating or teaching such doctrines, or who in any manner whatsoever lends assistance, financial or otherwise, to the dissemination of such doctrines;
Mah! Che sia stata per anni, 27 per la precisione, così pericolosa? Dubitare è lecito.
L’Ufficio d’Immigrazione delle Filippine (Bureau of Immigration, BI) ha eseguito l’arresto di una suora australiana, Suor Patricia Fox, 71 anni, che vive nelle Filippine da molti anni e appartenente alla Congregazione di Notre Dame di Sion, una congregazione religiosa presente in varie parti del mondo e arrivata nelle Filippine nel 1990. Molto probabilmente il fermo della suora è in relazione al suo impegno nell’IFFSM, International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission, una missione internazionale (composta tuttavia, in maggioranza, da associazioni filippine impegnate nel sociale) d’inchiesta e di solidarietà che si è data il compito di verificare le violazioni dei diritti umani.
Recentemente in Mindanao, nei primi di Aprile, una di queste missioni di circa 200 persone è stata bloccata per ben due volte prima di procedere nel luogo della sua investigazione per poi essere ricevuta con una certa e forzata ostilità dalla gente locale organizzata, non si sa da chi, in rally di “pace” e di protesta dove sono stati sbandierati cartelli con le scritte “Stay out” (State lontani) e altri inneggianti alla legge marziale (Defend Martial Law! Defend Peace!) In quella missione IFFSM si era dato il compito di investigare 63 casi di uccisioni extragiudiziali oltre a casi di arresti illegali e accuse sollevate contro semplici agricoltori e leader tribali.
Comunque il fermo è durato poco anche perché il capo del BI Jaime Morente ha approvato la raccomandazione di rilascio per ulteriori indagini dopo che è stato verificato che la suora ha un valido visto ‘missionario’ e, quindi, è una residente straniera adeguatamente documentata.
Are gossip and rumor ever constructive? During the Revolution of 1896, Andres Bonifacio used rumor mill to “neutralize” the enemies of the Katipunan.
According to Jose Rizal, who was consulted by Bonifacio’s emissary, Pio Valenzuela, it was important for the Katipunan to enlist the support of the rich Filipinos because without money, the Katipunan and the revolution would fail.
Rizal stressed that rich Filipinos had the most to lose in a revolution, so they would do everything they could to keep the status quo: “These Filipinos will be your worst enemies if you commit the imprudence of attacking the Spaniards without the necessary preparation. When they see you without arms, they will go over to the Spanish side to persecute you, and being Filipinos, and rich ones at that, they will win your soldier over with their money .. See to it that these persons are neutral. At the very last, they must non-be in a position to help neither the Spaniards nor the Filipinos.”
Watching movies on organized crime, we have acquired a different idea of the order “Neutralize them!” I guess Rizal meant the same thing. But when Valenzuela asked exactly what he meant, he answered: “The means are born of circumstances and events.”
When Valenzuela returned to Manila in July 1896, he briefed Bonifacio on Rizal’s views and they picked Benedicto Mijaga, a katipunero, to talk to millionaire Francisco Roxas into funding the Katipunan. Just as Rizal predicted, the rich refused to compromise their comfortable lives. To make matter worst, Roxas even threatened to denounce the Katipunan, saying he would not support a revolt against Spain led by a few disgruntled Filipinos.
Disappointed with his unpatriotic attitude Bonifacio decided to implicate the rich with the movement so that once arrested and perhaps tortured, they would hate the Spaniards enough to help the Katipunan. This was a way of “neutralizing” these men, short of killing them, right?
Emilio Jacinto prepared the list of uncooperative Filipinos, had their movements monitored and their signatures forged on Katipunan papers, which stated that they were not only Katipunan sympathizers but also heavy contributors to the Katipunan fund!
Bonifacio and Valenzuela started leaving these incriminating “subversive” documents in Katipunan hideouts and safehouses, so the slightest search by the Spanish authorities would lead to their discovery. A wave of arrests followed, but the implicated men simply denied their involvement with the Katipunan. Unfortunately, the Spanish didn’t believe them and even used this as a way of extorting money from the rich “suspects”.
Francisco Roxas was executed while others were tortured. Fort Santiago was filled with hundreds of suspected Katipunan sympathizers, others were exiled to the Caroline or Marianas Islands and some, like Luis Yangco, slipped out of the Philippines after bribing Spanish officials.
What is difficult for historians today is how to tell the real sympathizers of the Katipunan from those Bonifacio merely implicated. Worse, Pio Valenzuela is one of the most unreliable primary sources on the revolution, giving conflicting versions of the same story, further complicating our history.
11 aprile, ore sei del mattino si parte per La Speranza, Tulunan km 125, naturalmente con Peter (Geremia) che mai ha perso questa occasione, sfidando pioggia e sole, intimidazioni e più tardi disinteresse, per esserci. La messa sarà celebrata alle sette poi si collocherà una targa con i nomi di altri 14 ‘martiri’ di Tulunan nel luogo dove già sorge un capitello in memoria di padre Tullio Favali.
“La meta da raggiungere è il viaggio” così dicevano, ci par di capire, (il pensiero ci viene mentre viaggiamo sulla strada larga e cementata tra Kidapawan a Tulunan un tempo sassi, fango e polvere) …. i missionari primi apparsi in questi luoghi. Oggi lo dicono i pellegrini in cammino verso il santuario di Lampagang a pochi chilometri da La Speranza. Questa prima certezza era senz’altro nel cuore di Tullio , 33 anni fa, quando in motocicletta (che, così-come-è, viene ora esposta al nuovo e moderno Museo di Kidapawan in apertura tra sette giorni) viaggiava spedito verso quel fatale crocevia 125. La seconda stava nella sua fede. Lo aiutò a non fermare il mezzo meccanico di fronte all’ancora incompleta conoscenza, lui neofita piombato in un mondo indecifrabile e in perenne conflitto. Del resto, come tanti di noi, anzi meglio di noi, era partito dall’Italia con l’idea di spendere la vita per gli altri, indipendentemente se fossero stati buoni o cattivi. Insomma, un modo di vivere cristiano a volte snobbato se non detestato da alcuni. Nondimeno, da rispettare. Purtroppo, coloro che si auto dichiararono suoi avversari manco un attimo ci pensarono, al rispetto.
Km 125 raggiunto da Tullio da protagonista. Una corsa veloce la sua perché –‘alleggerita’ dalla rinuncia di una vita confortevole, una famiglia, un lavoro salariato, ma anche agevolata dalle distanze prese verso una società inquinata nei costumi da una economia di mercato andata a male (e speriamo in via d’estinzione). Per qualche attimo, come lui al chilometro 125, ci siamo immaginati protagonisti tra ‘Terra e Cielo’ (per parafrasare il testo di Roberto Cavosi sul dramma di Tullio messo in scena al San Babila nell’ormai lontano 2000). A volte spinti nei bassifondi del quotidiano dai malandati altre volte attratti dalle altezze raggiunte dai giusti (santi e martiri quest’ultimi). Non certo per diventare uomini super. Semmai impacciati e fuggevoli viaggiatori nel tempo.
Prima di ripartire scambi di impressioni con i partecipanti; un centinaio scarso. Tra loro anziane signore, in maggioranza vedove, ci chiedono di mandare i loro saluti ai padri del Pime ancora viventi, Luciano G., Sandro B., Michel(e), Seb(astiano), G(i)ulio …. che qui facciamo.
April 11th, 6 a.m. we leave for Crossing 125, La Speranza, Tulunan, of course with fr.Peter (Geremia) who has never lost this opportunity, defying rain and sun, intimidations and later disinterest, to be there. The Mass will be celebrated at seven o’clock and then a plaque with the names of 14 other martyrs of Tulunan will be placed where a little wayside shrine has been erected in the memory of Father Tullio Favali.
“The goal to reach is the journey” it has been said, we seem to understand, (the thought comes to us in our mind while we were travelling on the wide and cemented road between Kidapawan and Tulunan once pebbles, mud and dust) …. by the first missionaries appeared in these places. Today only the pilgrims say the same while they are on their way to the sanctuary of Lampagang a few kilometers from La Speranza. This first belief was undoubtedly in the heart of Tullio, 33 years ago, when on a motorcycle (which, as it is, is now exposed in the new and modern Provincial Museum of Kidapawan, the inaugural opening next April 19th, 2018), he went to that fateful crossroads 125. The second was in his faith which helped him not to stop the engine of the motorbike fearing of not knowing the situation well; he was, after all, a neophyte plunged into an indecipherable world that was in constant conflict, if he wanted, he could very well have pulled back, but he did not. Like many of us, even better than us, he had left Italy with the idea of offering his life for others, regardless of whether they were good or bad. In short, a christian way of life sometimes snubbed if not detested by some. Nevertheless, to be respected. Unfortunately, those who declared themselves his adversaries never tried to respect him.
In any case Km 125 was reached by Tullio as a protagonist. It was a fast race because ‘lightened’ by the renunciation of a comfortable life, a family, a salaried job, but also facilitated by the distances taken towards a society that polluted costumes by means of a bad market economy (we pray for its early extinction). For a few moments, like Tullio at kilometer 125, we imagined ourselves as protagonists between ‘Earth and Heaven’ (to paraphrase the text of Roberto Cavosi on the drama of Tullio staged at San Babila Theatre, Milan, in the now distant year 2000). Somehow we felt we were pushed by the human shabbiness into the ghostly slums of today, and in an other way attracted, instead, by the heights reached by the righteous (saints and martyrs). Certainly not in order to become super men, but, if anything, awkward and fleeting time travelers.
Before leaving we shared exchanges of impressions with the participants; more or less a hundred. Among them parents of victims, old ladies, mostly widows. They asked us to send their greetings to the still living PIME fathers, Luciano Ghezzi, Sandro Bauducci, Michel Carlone, Sebastiano D’Ambra, Giulio Mariani …. and that here we do.
I was twelve when I saw the macabre urban legend walking before my eyes.
I was grade six in Kidapawan, and my section in Notre Dame was having its retreat in Guadalupe Formation Center shortly after Joseph Estrada pardoned Norberto Manero Jr.
I could see him from the screened windows of the large pavilion in which retreat sessions were held, overlooking the road from the gates of Guadalupe to the Bishop’s Palace further inside the compound: the man they called ‘Kumander Bukay,’ ‘The Priest-killer,’ ‘The Cannibal,’ or more sinisterly ‘The Brain-eater,’ walking solemnly from the gates towards the grave of Fr. Tullio Favali.
In the urban imagination of Kidapawan, the story of Manero has passed into the realm of legend and folklore, becoming archetypal of what I call Cotabato Gothic.
‘The man named Manero killed an Italian priest and burned his motorcycle before he ate the priest’s brains.’ That was the story I heard as a child growing up in Kidapawan. I must have heard it before I was eight, because when I was old enough to go to Guadalupe on recollections and our teacher brought the class to the grave of Fr Favali, I knew more about the story than what she told my classmates (I recall trying to look for bits of brain matter on the charred motorcycle when I first saw it).
North Cotabato is mythic like this. The distance or the danger of travel between towns, or perhaps the inherent tendency of Mindanao Settlers to invent reality to make something more dramatic, meant that news and history when told are often stripped of facts and condensed into pure impression, often embellished to capture the horror or wonder, until only that fabulous version is remembered. This was how violence and insanity became normal in the world I grew up in.
And yet behind the macabre and the fantastic there is almost always a grain of truth.
Fr Tullio Favali was murdered by the Manero Brothers on the 11th of April, 1985 in Tulunan. The Manero Brothers, Norberto, Edilberto, and Elpidio, were members of the armed group Ilaga, which ravaged our side of Mindanao from the 60s to the 80s.
By most accounts, the Ilaga started out as a militia in the settlements of what was once the Empire Province of Cotabato, organized by Ilonggo settlers who were tired of having the land they tilled pillaged by neighbouring Moros. From there the group became a paramilitary unit which helped the military in its fight against Muslim and Communist insurgents.
In the troubles of the late 60s, Ilaga was consumed by its narrative of hate and evolved into a cult-like group, with its members being reported wearing strings of human ears (cut from their victims) as talismans. Magical powers were routinely attributed to its leader, Commander Toothpick, and to its other commanders. The group went about earning a notoriety unseen in Mindanao perhaps since the days of J.W. Duncan. On June 1971 they massacred nearly a hundred civilian Muslims, including children and the elderly, in the mosque of Manili in Carmen (read Rogelio Braga’s vivid account of the massacre). When the writ of habeas corpus was suspended on September of that year, the Muslim community in Kidapawan’s Poblacion went on exodus en masse overnight as the Ilaga came in and looted their homes.
The court decision that found the Manero Brothers and their cohorts guilty of the murder of Favali is a sobering read, in both senses of the word. It demystifies the legend that even then had already enshrouded the case (the court decision acknowledges this at some points), but it is still an account of a cold blooded murder done very publicly and in broad daylight.
The Manero brothers and their friends who were in Tulunan on 11 April were high ranking members of the group operating in North Cotabato. They were there to go on a killing spree of pre-identified targets, among whom was another foreign priest, Fr Peter Geremia, whom the group suspected of having links to the NPA (the Catholic church of Kidapawan and of the province, as I’ve written here last time, has a history of actively fighting for social justice). After shooting several people, the group came across Favali, who arrived in the house of Domingo Gomez. They burned the priest’s motorcycle, and when Favali came to react over the burning, he was shot in the head.
While Norberto was the one often called ‘The Priest Killer,’ Favali was actually shot by another Manero, Norberto’s brother Edilberto. It is what Kumander Bukay did after the priest died that lent him the notoriety. ‘Edilberto,’ I quote from the court decision, ‘jumped over the prostrate body three times, kicked it twice, and fired anew. The burst of gunfire virtually shattered the head of Fr. Favali, causing his brain to scatter on the road. As Norberto, Jr., flaunted the brain to the terrified onlookers, his brothers danced and sang “Mutya Ka Baleleng” to the delight of their comrades-in-arms.’
This danse macabre is all that stuck to the province’s imagination, and from there the horror of it grew as it was embellished. The Manero Brothers were essentially reduced to just one person, ‘Manero’ (a name which I observe had since eclipsed ‘Kumander Bukay’ in notoriety), and stories of how this Manero ‘ate the priest’s brains’ or ‘had the priest’s brains as pulutan with Tanduay’ became more widely known than the actual details of the murder.
This is how legends are born in North Cotabato.
By the time I was growing up, the incident had been all but forgotten, but the horror of it lingered, as parents in Kidapawan in the 90s told their children of the story barely remembered of the man who ate a priest’s brains.
On the day I saw Norberto Manero he was walking towards the grave of the man whose murder he was party to. He was visiting the grave for the first time, as an act of reconciliation.
But I did not see it that way, and so do many, still. Reconciliation is far too subtle to be understood in Mindanao, it has always been easier to see demons in people, to be blind to the struggles of others in light of the atrocities they commit. Just as Manero and his fellow Ilaga lost sight of Favali’s humanity in their score-long hatred of Moros and insurgents, so too did the province lose sight in Manero of what might once have been a poor farmer’s son dragged into counter-insurgency by the violent circumstances of his island.
Today even the memory of that horror is slowly fading away. In Kidapawan at least, where Fr. Favali is buried, I get the sense that part of the drive to progress is to discard the sordid memories of a painful past, that for us to be a happy town we must somehow forget that we once saw suffering and misery. We dance the Samba and the Cha Cha, but we forget even the melody of ‘Mutya ka Baleleng.’
Favali, who gave his life to his mission here in Mindanao, deserves better, just as the Maneros, who in the madness of their hatred ended up killing many innocent people, deserve better. The lessons of the past, of the lethal power of blind resentment, of the ease with which truth is distorted, and of the many murders that still remain without justice, they deserve better than just being dismissed as the obscure interests of morbid historians. They can be re-contextualized, perhaps even reevaluated, but they deserve better than to be forgotten.
But then again, that is also how legends die in North Cotabato.
Spero stiate bene! Mi prendo un attimo di pausa dal mio “português” per scrivervi “alcune righe” in Italiano. Il tempo vola ed è già passato più di un mese da quando sono partito dall’Italia e che mi trovo qui in Brasile, ma ancora porto con me tanti bei ricordi. Il mio arrivo in questo paese ha inaugurato l’inizio della missione a cui Il Signore mi ha inviato. Sono stato accolto bene da una parte dei nostri confratelli missionari del PIME presenti a São Paulo. Per ora si procede abbastanza bene; nuove conoscenze, nuove esperienze e nuove amicizie. Insomma, ci sono molte cose da imparare e da conoscere!
Per i prossimi 3 mesi sarò qui al Centro Culturale Missionario nella capitale del Brasile; Brasília. Già da 3 settimane abbiamo iniziato il corso di portoghese e di conoscenza della cultura brasiliana. Semplicemente vi dico che il portoghese del Brasile (I brasiliani ci tengono a precisare questo dettaglio “português do Brasil” ) pur essendo vicino all’italiano è molto diverso. La lingua è molto ben diversa non solo per la pronuncia ma, soprattutto, per la modalità di costruzione della frase, che, indirettamente esprime la mentalità di questo popolo. Una lingua nuova davvero rimane nuova! Rimane quella stessa fatica di non capire, di non poter parlare e di potersi esprimersi con parole esatte. Umilmente si ritorna ad essere studenti, un passaggio che tutti noi missionari dobbiamo attraversare.
Ma la cosa più bella pur nella fatica è che qui al centro si respira veramente l’aria missionaria e dell’amicizia che sta iniziando a crescere tra di noi! Qui, Siamo bei 26 missionari e missionarie provenienti da 14 nazioni diverse (Padri, suore e seminaristi). Il clima è molto familiare e questo è davvero molto bello! Credo che la missione quando è vissuta nell’amicizia sia una testimonianza credibile di quella gioia vera che viene dal Signore. Quando avremo finito il corso saremo sparpagliati in questo immenso paese andando ognuno nella propria destinazione di missione.
Durante il Triduo Pasquale, partecipavamo nelle celebrazioni nella parrocchia vicina al centro missionario. Mentre alla vigilia del Sabato santo, sono andato con il direttore del centro missionario e alcuni dei miei compagni missionari da una cappella in una periferia della città.
Scusate se vi ho scritto troppo, ho cercato di essere breve ma raccontare più di 30 giorni di nuove conoscenze, esperienze e amicizie in una lettera non è facile. Sì, sono già passati più di 30 giorni, appena più di 30 di quei tanti giorni meravigliosi e faticosi che Il Signore mi regalerà in questa terra brasiliana!
Vi chiedo semplicemente di ricordarmi e i nostri missionari qui nelle vostre preghiere e anch’io farò ugualmente. Che Il Signore risorto riempia la nostra vita di quella gioia senza fine che ci spinge verso la missione ovunque siamo.
Cast out into the deep: missionary reflections (2003 – 2010)
Fr. Sergio Fossati, PIME
After the quite impressive and somewhat graphic celebrations of Good Friday, it was time for the joy of Easter to unfold. Early in the morning on Easter Sunday – before dawn – two groups gathered separately, in silence: a group of men carrying the statue of the Risen Christ, and a group of women carrying the black veiled statue of the Sorrowful Mother.
Quietly, they moved toward the church for the Salubong or “meeting” of the Risen Lord with his Mother. Catholics have been pretty busy on Holy Saturday decorating with orchids and other beautiful flowers the two statues. Some of the most skilled carpenters in the village built a wooden stairway descending from the facade of the church.
When the two processions reached the front of the church, the silence of the night was suddenly broken by the song of the angels: “Rejoice, O Queen of heaven, for he whom you were privileged to bear has risen as he said, alleluia!”
Yes, there were angels coming down from the stairway! A dozen little girls, carefully dressed in white and with paper wings, were gracefully singing that hymn of joy when one of them lifted the dark veil of grief and mourning from the statue of Mary. Rejoice, the long dark night is over! The Risen Lord has conquered death and will never die again! It is 4:30 am. The celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord can begin now.
This joyful meeting of the sorrowful Mother and her risen Son is not recorded in the gospels. Never mind: they like to think that the Risen Jesus would have certainly appeared to his mother first, to share with her the good news of his resurrection. Salubong tells us that we can meet the Risen Lord in the many signs of his enduring presence among us: his Word, his sacraments, his Church, the poor and the needy. We meet Christ in private prayer and where the values of his Kingdom are respected and affirmed.
Salubong makes us incurable optimists. The power of sin is still real, but its power is not ultimate: Jesus has won the decisive victory over sin and death. Nothing can ever be the same.