Friday, September 2, 2011

Death of a Bishop

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend and we are less than a week away to the City Fiesta. I have decided that my usual acerbic comments about the world around me will have to wait until after the fiesta. In the meantime it will be about some fiesta events.

The novena masses have started, the City Hall has been given a facelift and some of you might have seen the mayor in the streets of Calbayog as he made rounds to check and ensure that the city (especially at the commercial area) is clean.

Tomorrow night Calbayog will be in for the annual Search for Miss Anyag. This will be held at the Calbayog City Sports Center. Confirmed as judges in the said pageant are Congresswoman Lucy Torres and Richard Gomez.

On Sunday, Bishop Isabelo Abarquez will preside over the confirmation ceremony of a good number of young Calbayognons the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

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And what’s with today’s title? You might want to ask. Nope, no bishop died today. Last August 10, 2011 we commemorated the 91st anniversary of the death Bishop Pablo Singzon, the first Bishop of Calbayog.

The following item was supposed to have come out in the August 12 edition of this paper. But I did not make it to the deadline. This is my annual tribute to the first bishop of the Diocese of Calbayog. Blame it on the history buff in me and my interest in materials that are old, in this case a very old material dating back to August 14, 1920. It’s among the copies of the Eco de Samar y Leyte which I got sometime in 2008, as our team prepared for the Calbayog coffee table book.

That particular issue on August 14, 1920 had in its English section this headline: “Mgr. Pablo Singzon, first Bishop of Calbayog died last Tuesday morning”. Let me give you that old account which was written by someone who went by the name of “PLOPE”.

“It was a melancholic and sorrowful Monday at about six o’clock when our Illustrious Prelate Mgr. Pablo Singzon in the modest parlor of the Episcopal palace was attended by his familiars among whom was Dr. Tomas Gomez. His weary respiration and the paleness of his face moved the hearts of those who were present and caused them a painful feeling of separation. The pain of his sickness was becoming more and more painful which called him to stay in bed.

At 10:00 o’clock p.m. when Mgr. Singzon found out that he did not feel a better repose nor even a rest from the pain of his sickness in his bed, wanted to sit on a chair – the chair where he received the spiritual consolations last November when he was attacked severely by the same sickness. In this chair he decided to die. Tears that roll from my eyes prevent not my pen to communicate my pain!

When the clock knocked its eleven strikes Mgr. Singzon was becoming weaker and weaker. From the neck of our illustrious patient hanged a bead of rosary, the Escapulary of the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Miraculous Medal. Around him were his favorite Auxiliary Bishop Mgr. Sofronio Hacbang, RR. FF. Jose Diasnes, Teodoro Robredo, Luis Egeda, Dr. Tomas Gomez, RR. FF. Pedro Pampliega, Santos Saldaña, the Seminarians Bernardo Bacsal, Lesmes Ricalde, and behind the chair were RR. FF. Felix Sabenicio and Crispin Singzon. It was indeed a sorrowful occasion! All those who were present observed firmly to the patient and watched his movements whose weary and painful respiration cooled their hearts. Mgr. Singzon was not as active as he used to be: his activity, attention and application were changed: Mgr. Singzon was transformed struggling between the existence of life and death.

Mgr. Sofronio Hacbang his Auxiliary Bishop and who had never left him read the profession of the faith, the recommendation of the soul; whose voice in the midst of that tranquility and in the midst of that struggling pain called his attention to listen. Rev. F. Jose Diasnes neared to the patient by order of the Auxiliary Bishop to give him a confession. How great and how sublime is to die in the name of the Catholic Religion, though in the midst of pain.

The illustrious patient was losing gradually his movements the coolness of his body began to cover him with its veil, his paleness was becoming more and more pale. Then all those who were present knelt down with lighted candles before a crucifix near the patient and said the following words: “PROFESU ERE ANIMA CRISTIANA

Mgr. Singzon gave up his last breath in the morning of the sorrowful Tuesday when the clock knocked its 3:20 strikes” (PLOPE)

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In memoriam. Tomorrow we remember Bishop Sincero Lucero on his death anniversary.

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This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

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