(Vox Bikol, June 15-22)
LAST WEEK, THIS PAPER featured four articles on the Church’s rejection of the secular celebrations, military parade, and other civic activities during the Peñafrancia week. Take note that I used ‘week’ instead of the ecclesiastical term ‘novena’ which is a little more than a week. Even the editorial professed kudos to the Bicol Association of Catholic Schools for releasing a statement calling for the Naga City government to schedule the military parade outside the nine-day observance. Atty. Che Carpio, for his part, considered the effort as a way of ‘demilitarizing’ the ‘supposedly’ religious event, which I think is an overreaction—military parade and Marcos regime, Oakwood mutiny, and Moro insurgency?
I, on the other hand, see this as another way of martial conviction of the Church officials themselves—officials, not the Church herself. This is another episode along the melodramatic series of pursuing its parochial character—kitakita, sindasinda. As if the ‘festival’— or rather, the ‘observance’—is not composed of civic individuals, who, when gathered inside the church precinct, would be called a ‘congregation of the faithful.’
And again, I’d want to go back to a fact: that we are given here a situation where no complacency and remorse is shown by the local Church for having participated in these so-called non-religious activities during the fiesta. Again, I ask: didn’t the Church sanction these matters that it lasted for so long? Or should the local Church apologize for being lethargic when all these brouhahas were thriving in the past? Did the local Church in the past enjoyed it too for the reason that they also had a share of its worldly fruits?
But I doubt if the Church officials will do that. I would bet a tithe.
Ah, the military parade.
BACS should have started its statement with an apology, apology for participating in this non-religious, irrelevant parade for how long. BACS representatives should have started its statement with an apology for occupying special seats up there in the reviewing stand during the parade itself. BACS should apologize for wasting much of the effort and passion and perspiration of the students in practicing formation and flanking and rifle carriage just for this one-day event.
For the essential question is: why only now when the Peñafrancia festival, in all aspects and on singular occasion, have already been deeply set in our cultural consciousness? It has become a festival that wonderfully unites all Bikolanos, ecclesiastically and civilly. Oh, please, we do not need another schism.
We just cannot stay blind to the fact that nobody, including the Church, has the monopoly to the decisions that would affect all of us. Otherwise, the Church will be remain as arrogant as it were during Padre Damaso’s time, when the Church prided around of its erudition, knowledge, and the power scaring people around with misquoted passages form the Holy Bible. During those times, the Church seemed to convey to everyone that it possessed the key to everything, all with shock value. Now, I don’t want that happening to my society and my Church, and I’m saying this albeit my voice being just a small voice in the reverberating voices of prelates and presbyters.
All I want is a Church who looks at everything with a look not of utter judgment because the thing being looked at is out of its league. I wish the act of looking be done with understanding, wisdom, and openness. All I want is a Church who believes that each thing has its own beauty and goodness, yes, including military parades and pageantries.
I wish for these manners, because these are the manners of the God this Church had made known to me.