POSTSCRIPT / May 20, 2007 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Priest sent to deliver his cabalen from evil

FAITH WINS: Considering the obstacles along the way, the slim 1,147-vote final lead posted by Fr. Ed Panililo over Bong Pineda’s wife Lilia in the battle for the Pampanga governorship was actually a monumental margin.

The priest from Betis and the legion praying with him could have been easily washed away by jueteng money that had been flowing for years like deadly lahar in the province’s 20 provinces and two cities.

But the cabalen held on. They had something more potent than the billion pesos said to have been spent in that epic battle. These PampangueƱos had faith.

They had faith in Among Ed, the figure chosen to lead them through the night. They had faith in one another. And they had faith in their Apung Guinu who has watched over them since the time of their forefathers.

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JOY OF REDEMPTION: So when the faithful burst out crying, jumping and hugging one another that Friday evening in San Fernando upon the proclamation of Among as the winner, even the followers of Lilia Pineda and Gov. Mark Lapid could not help being moved by the joy of redemption.

Today, and during the upcoming three years of Panlilio, there will be no more political typecasting. There are no more winners and losers in Pampanga — everybody is a winner.

I have not talked to Among, and I do not have to talk with him to know that he has opened his arms to embrace his scattered cabalen as one whole family again.

May all the contending factions catch the message of reconciliation being beamed to them as children of the same Apung Guinu.

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GMA’S MOVE: Unlike the long time it took her to go to the Taysan torching scene in Batangas, President Gloria Arroyo should immediately congratulate Fr. Panlilio and set a meeting to explore ways for them to co-operate in ensuring a better deal for the province.

We presume that in the last elections, Atching Gloria was quietly rooting for her kumare Baby Pineda, although duty dictated that she publicly endorsed the party candidate Mark Lapid.

But with Panlilio having emerged as a nonpartisan winner, she should reorient her mind to regarding the priest not as an adversary but as a potential ally — and treat him as such. I am sure Baby and Mark will understand.

Together, and putting partisanship aside, the President and the incoming governor can do great things for their province.

* * *

LIKE CORY: Panlilio finds himself in a situation similar to, but smaller in scale than, that of Cory Aquino after the 1986 EDSA Revolt that toppled the dictator and installed her as a virtual dictator.

Having been given a mandate to cleanse Pampanga of vice and corruption, Panlilio can wield a strong hand if he wants, when the need arises.

The people, including those who did not vote for him, are just waiting for him to take the high ground and announce his Reform and Development Agenda. If the new leader in white tells them to go this or that way, they will follow.

Panlilio ran with no political party, no war chest, no lineup of candidates, and no commitments to campaign donors. His hands are not tied. He does not enter office with political baggage.

He can work with whoever will be the vice governor, the provincial board members, the mayors and the local councils — whether they were with Pineda or Lapid. All that labeling should be cast aside.

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RELIGIOUS FIRSTS: Panlilio goes on record as the first priest, a Capampangan, to be elected governor.

There are many Capampangan who had scored firsts in Philippine religious history. Here are samples culled from a book of Dr. Luciano P. R. Santiago, published by The Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University:

The first Filipino Jesuit (1593) was Martin Sancho. The second Filipino Jesuit (1668), Phelippe Sonsong, came from a noble family in Macabebe. He was married and had a son, but joined the religious life at 57 after the death of his wife.

The first Filipino Recollect (1660) was also from Macabebe. His name was Juan de Sta. Maria Dimatulac y Uri.

The first Filipino nun (1633) was Sor Martha de San Bernardino, also a Capampangan. Because she was an india, it took time for her to be accepted to the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara in Manila. But her virtue and admirable qualities overcame the prejudice.

Sor Martha’s admission paved the way for the second nun, Sor Magdalena dela Concepcion, also a Capampangan (1637).

The first Filipino priest ordained (1654) was a Pampango named Miguel Jeronimo de Morales, probably from Bacolor. The first Filipino priest ordained with the launching of the Filipino Clergy (1698) was Francisco Baluyut of Guagua.

The first Filipino Cardinal (1960) was Rufino Santos y Jiao born in Guagua of humble parentage.

The first Filipino Benedictine Prior (1973-1980) was the Very Rev. Silvestre H. Lacson of Angeles.

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RELIGIOSITY: In early Spanish times, Pampanga was the largest province in Luzon, about four times its present size. It included parts of what are now Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Bataan. From this province were sent missions to spread the faith.

Many Pampanga youths gravitated toward the religious life. As I sometimes mention in this space, beneath the seeming worldly veneer of most Capampangan is a religiosity that asserts itself in crises.

This character of the Capampangan, their abiding faith in Apung Guinu, helped carry Panlilio through what was earlier thought to be a quixotic crusade against the vice and corruption that had dragged down the province.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 20, 2007)

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