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October 22, 2012 12:00 AM

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

SCHOLARLY evidence strongly point to the fact that newly canonized St. Pedro Calungsod is of Ilonggo descent.

Fr. Esperidion “Boy” Celis Jr., parish priest of Molo, Iloilo City, cited several facts that will buttress the argument that Calungsod is from Iloilo.

Pedro Calungsod was born in 1654 in Visayas. Aside from Iloilo, the towns of Ginatilan and Tuburan in Cebu and Loboc in Bohol are claiming the newly-minted saint as their own.

At a young age, St. Pedro Calungsod trained under the Jesuit order to become a catechist.

On June 16, 1668, a Jesuit mission led by Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores went to Marianas Islands which are part of the Cebu Diocese. The mission includes some 30 Filipino laymen including the young Calungsod.

Calungsod earned the distinction as the “faithful companion” and assistant of Fr. San Vitores in masses, baptism and other Catholic Church rites. Based on Jesuit accounts, the mission was able to 13,000 natives.

Calungsod and Fr. San Vitores died on April 2, 1672 in the hands of an irate Chamorro (Marianas native) chief and his followers.

The village chief was angry at the mission for baptizing his daughter sans his approval and hunted the missionaries.

A spear mortally wounded Calungsod in the chest while the death blow was a machete to his skull. The Visayan saint was only 17 at the time of his death.

Jesuit accounts said Calungsod could have fled to safety but he stood his ground and protected Fr. San Vitores to the death.

Before he was killed, Fr. San Vitores administered Calungsod’s final absolution and blessing.

The bodies of the Catholic Church martyrs were bound with ropes, tied to heavy rocks and thrown into the sea.

The death of Fr. San Vitores, Calungsod and other missionaries reached the Philippines May 3, 1672. A solemn Te Deum is sung at the Manila Cathedral to grieve for the fallen missionaries and thank God for the grace of martyrdom given to the missionaries.

Calungsod was beatified in May 200 and canonized as saint on October 21, 2012.


Calungsods of Molo

Fr. Celiz said while other places are claiming Calungsod as their own, certain facts prove that he is from Iloilo.

Fr. Celiz said the surname Calungsod is well known in Brgy. San Antonio, Molo and other parts of the province.

In fact, members of the Calungsod family recount that some of their ancestors migrated to Negros, Leyte and Samar between 17th and 18th century, thus the presence of the family’s branches in the said provinces.

The Molo parish priest also said that the Calungsods kept recounting that a relative joined the Jesuit missionaries in Cebu and Guam.

“That particular relative never came back and that is one proof that San Pedro Calungsod could be from Molo,” he added.

The theory of Molo-based Calungsods as the roots of Calungsods in other areas of Visayas is backed by genealogical records kept by a Mormon-run family website.

The site shows that the earliest Calungsods to be baptized were in Iloilo City in the late 1748.

Other Calungsods based in Leyte, Cebu, Negros Island and Cavite were baptized between 1828 and 1903.


Jesuit records

Fr. Celis also cited the works of Jesuit Fr. Catalino Arevalo who wrote Calungsod’s biography.

Fr. Arevalo learned that Jesuit presence in Iloilo was strong, particularly in Molo district in the 17th century.

In fact, Compania Street in Molo was named after the Jesuit Order – Compania de Jesus – and was the location of the order’s headquarters in Iloilo. Incidentally, the street also leads to Brgy. San Antonio where the Ilonggo Calungsods reside.

“The evidence is very strong that San Pedro Calungsod is from Iloilo. But his origins is not so much of a problem anymore because when a person is declared saint, he or she actually belongs to the whole world already. It’s good if we can prove that he was from Iloilo, but whatever it is, we must share him back to the world,” Fr. Celis said.

During the canonization rites of Calungsod and six other new saints, Pope Benedict XVI narrated the second Filipino saint’s life and imparted a very important message to Filipinos.

“May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the kingdom bravely and to win souls for God,” Benedict said in his homily.

The first Filipino saint is San Lorenzo Ruiz who, like Calungsod, was also martyred for his faith.

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