Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J.

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Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. Empty Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J.

Post by yang-ew on Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:34 pm

Dear Vincentians and friends,

We would like to solicit your thoughts, messages and stories about the life and works of the Most Reverend Francisco Claver S.J. Please share it here that others may be blessed...

Here are very nice thoughts and messages I want to shared from the IGO- Igorot Global Organizations.

Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. Homepage

The late Bishop Claver was the keynote speaker during the IGO-IIC5 (Igorot Global Organization- Igorot International Consultation, 2004) in Saint Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. The title of his speech was "The Essence of Culture in our Lives."

(The Wild Men of the Cordillera Central,
Northern Luzon, Philippines, at the
St. Louis World Fair, 1904)

Our Topic. If I go by the title of the subject assigned for discussion this morning, the Essence of Culture in Our Lives, and adhere to it literally, I’m afraid you would all be snoring in five seconds flat. You wouldn’t want that? I don’t either for the simple reason that I’d hate it if my jet lag would be all for nothing.

So this is what I propose to do. Since our celebration these days is of a very particular event, the Centennial of the St. Louis World Fair of 1904, I think it is only fitting that we talk of something not too remotely unconnected with it. And so I would like to focus on the Igorots—mountain people from the Cordillera Central of Northern Luzon—who were exhibited here and helped make the Fair the great success it is said to have been. They were billed in various ways, and one of them was as “the Wild Men of Luzon” and the huge crowds they attracted were a boon of no little moment to the organizers of the Fair. With this shift in focus, I will have to talk of their culture—our culture, rather, for I and you from the mountain region of Northern Luzon who are here today in great numbers can claim the culture of those “wild men” as ours. And I will talk too of what that culture meant to them, what it still means to us who have inherited it from them, how it molded them and us to be what we are: Igorots, People of the Mountains.

I thus append this sub-title to my talk: the Wild Men of the Cordillera Central, Northern Luzon, Philippines, at the St. Louis World Fair, 1904. Should I add: “and at Its Centennial, 2004”—to include their descendents present here today? If so, I’ll have to amend “Wild Men” to “Wild Men and Women”, just so I won’t be accused of being a male chauvinist. All of you then, members of BIMAK, men and women, in whatever country you are, count yourselves so included. And honored.

The Unasked Question

When I hear about what happened to those Igorots at the Fair and how they were the sensation at it, I can’t help asking: What did they, the crowds, see? And what was it that drew them in great numbers, what was it that sparked their curiosity? Right off I can say with the greatest certainty: They came to look at, precisely, curiosities, people different from them not just in appearance but in the way they behaved, talked, dressed, ate, danced, worked, etc. In short, the way they lived life in the transplanted village put up specifically for them. “The way they lived”, the way a particular people live—that’s culture.

Parenthetically, let me add: What people saw was a human zoo. That the human exhibits were not kept in cages did not make the spectacle of them performing daily life routines less of a zoo. People came to gawk and stare at them, just as they would do in any animal zoo. Sensibilities are offended at the thought, today. They probably were not so offended in those simpler days, at least those of ordinary Americans—although, yes, some Filipinos were deeply offended but, as we shall see, for another reason; and, yes, there was horror expressed at the Igorots’ much ballyhooed liking for dog-meat. Those mountain people, as the other groups likewise from other parts of the Philippines, were an ethnographic exhibit, and in the way the science of ethnology was beginning in those days, the great interest was in the observable customs and artifacts of a culture—racial characteristics also (culture and race not always being adequately differentiated). The exhibit, as Dr. Wolfort pointed out yesterday, was all done in the context—we have no trouble calling it an ideology—of the theory of the linear evolution of peoples and cultures that prevailed in scientific circles of the day. What we now deem degrading in the act of putting people on exhibit was pretty much on the level of freak shows, common at the time.

So what was seen at the Fair as far as our Igorot forebears were concerned? Simply put, their external culture—the same things you would see displayed in museums but this time with live people actually demonstrating their uses for the benefit of curious on-lookers. External culture, yes, but still important.

What was not seen—though perhaps guessed at by the more astute—was something more important: their inner make-up, that is, their mental processes, their values, their beliefs, the non-visible aspects of culture that compose a people’s world view and ethos and give them a spirit and identity all their own. I don’t think anybody did some kind of psychoanalytic study to find out what made them tick. Because that ticking part, that’s what constitutes the essence of a culture. So let’s talk of the essential Igorot.

The Schools of Living Tradition

Back in the Mountain Province and Ifugao, our schools are trying an experiment in culture-preservation and -promotion with their SLT programs and experiments. SLT stands for “schools of living tradition”. The idea arose from the simple realization that our educational system in the Philippines tends to de-culturate our Igorot children, to make them lose a sense of their uniqueness as Igorots as they go through school. They get educated as a matter of course out of their culture—and for what? For what is seen as the national culture but in substance is no different from what prevails in other nations, Western especially.

The gist of the experiment so far has concentrated on the training of school teachers to be conscious of their own culture, researching into it and, by the mere fact of doing so, becoming more sensitive to its nuanced realities. Incorporating what they have learned from their individual and group researches into their own classroom activities and teaching methods will, it is hoped, reverse the de-culturating effects of our current educational system.

The rationale of the experiment is obvious: Through it, our teachers, the molders of our young, learn how to understand and appreciate better their native culture so that they can in turn teach their students to do the same. This way they help preserve what is best in their culture, to work to integrate them as much as possible with the best in our national and dominant culture. Where before teachers were (quite unknowingly) agents of de-culturaton, they now are the agents of culture-recovery and -enhancement. Under their tutelage, our students should be able to learn how to operate well and succeed in the wider national culture, hence the continuing quest for quality education; but they should also be able to do so without losing their cultural identity and uniqueness altogether, hence the whole SLT enterprise. It is pioneering work, hard but not impossible, and exciting for the prospects it opens up for future action by all of us who are interested in the development of our people.

A further insight was gained as we advanced deeper into our program: the realization that what we were doing isn’t something good for cultural minorities like us Igorots only; SLTs should become a national program even for majority “tribes” like Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Cebuanos, and all other peoples of the Philippines to realize precisely that they are tribals, that is, that their distinctiveness as peoples dates back to a pre-Spanish cultural matrix which is the base of what we can call a generic Filipino culture. The de-culturation process that I say characterizes our educational system is a national problem and it is getting much worse in the globalized world in which we now live.

In the SLTs, our students are re-learning things that have been forgotten or ignored in their schooling—and in that of their parents, too, I would add. If the SLTs work out as they should, they will have to go beyond what they are doing now to the deeper aspects of native culture, to its essence: the things of the spirit that will make Igorots Igorots, wherever they find themselves. So now we ask: what are those distinctive “things of the spirit”?

The Essential Igorot: Two Stories (Og-okhod si i-Fontok)

Let me try answering that question as I think the Bontok Igorots would have done in the two institutions which in the past were quite distinctive of them: the ato and the olog. These two were for all practical purposes schools for the young: the ato, the village council house which doubled as a common dormitory for boys; and for girls, the olog, the sleeping quarters of unmarried girls. It was in these two institutions that traditional lore and ancestral wisdom were passed on to the young. And this was done mostly by what the Bontok call og-okhod—story telling. I have two stories to tell, two stories about events in our history as a people that will, I think, tell us plenty about what we are saying here is the essential Igorot.

The first deals with our colonial past—more correctly, our non-acceptance of Spanish attempts at bringing us under colonial rule. That “colonial past” was the defining moment for us Igorots, for the fact of our non-colonization is what marks us off today as “Indigenous Peoples”. The Spanish never really extended their sway in Igorot territory as they had done in most of the Philippines, despite a number of military expeditions from the early 17th century on to accomplish the stated aim of the Conquista, the subjugation of the native peoples of the Philippines and their Christianization—bringing people under the cross and the sword, as the formula of the Conquest had it. Our highland people were able to fend off both cross and sword for more than two centuries until the mid-1800s. Things changed then with the introduction of the Remington rifle: It was a gun unlike the medieval flint-lock musket that would work only when its powder was dry, a fact that allowed Igorot defenders of their land to lord it over the Spaniards during the rainy season! Our people’s spears and head axes were no match for that more efficient instrument of killing, and Spanish soldiers armed with that all-weather weapon, and missionaries with them, were able to penetrate further with greater ease into Igorot country, the soldiers to establish garrisons, the missionaries churches.

That history of resistance to both Spanish cross and sword tells us something about our people. They were fiercely independent and they detested anything that unduly curtailed their freedom. But if they were successful in keeping their independence and freedom, it was because they were also interdependent among themselves and could come together against a common enemy. This means they knew how to put individual freedom at the service of the good of their community (or clan) and even of wider groupings.

A footnote to the above story: American Anglican missionaries came into Igorot country in the early 1900s, Belgian and Dutch Catholic missionaries following later in 1907. In the 100 years since their arrival, more than 90% of our people have embraced Christianity. It was a Christianity that came to them sans soldiers and guns. The new religion, freely offered, freely accepted—that, I think, simply confirms what I just said about our people’s high valuation of their independence and freedom from any form of coercion.

If our people’s freedom and independence operated where religion was concerned, it also did in the sphere of governance. American colonial rule with its avowed aim of spreading democracy worked as well and our people did not resist its introduction. It was a more congenial political system for it was quite germane to the fundamental democracy that already obtained in their communities.

The second story to tell is something more contemporary, something that happened in the later part of the ‘70s during Marcos’ dictatorship. President Marcos conceived the bright idea of building four huge dams on the Chico River—the river that flows through the Mountain Province and Kalinga. These dams were intended to generate electricity, mainly for the Cagayan Valley, and provide that same valley with a larger irrigation system. A grandiose dream that would contribute much to the economic development of the country, so it was advertised. The only problem was that it would have entailed the destruction of all the towns and villages along the river’s route and the dislocation of tens of thousands of the population in the two provinces. It would have also resulted to the immense benefit of people outside the two provinces but not of the Bontok and the Kalinga. Just the contrary, they would have suffered the loss of property and land, cherished rice terraces especially, with no viable alternative sites to resettle them in. The rank injustice of the scheme grated on the people in a way Marcos and his technocrats, amazingly enough, had not given any thought to. The people resisted resolutely if non-violently the government’s move and succeeded in forcing Marcos to suspend the building of the dams indefinitely.

The military dictatorship giving in to the demands of “primitive tribesmen”, as some of Marcos’ minions disdainfully referred to them—this was an unheard of development when seen against the way it had, till then, bull-dozed aside all opposition. It was a victory for the Bontok and the Kalinga, the one instance during Martial Law that Marcos retreated from something he had decreed. Looking back now we see it was a tentative but giant step towards the development of what would later be called “People Power” at the EDSA Revolution of 1986.

This incident tells us in no uncertain terms that Igorots still resist coercion and un-freedom, still are as independent and free as their forebears were centuries ago. Any imposition of decisions that affect them but are made without their consent is still deeply resented.

In the two historic incidents we’ve reviewed here, we have highlighted the way our people prize certain values: freedom, independence and interdependence, justice, land, participation in decision-making about the common weal, unity in facing up to common dangers, etc. What I wanted to put in clear perspective in the two stories are the things of the spirit that motivate our people strongly in their dealings with one another, some of their values and attitudes, something of their world view and ethos, in brief, their soul. Not in its entirety, I repeat, but enough to say what their inner humanity was like. That inner humanity, their soul, I’m afraid did not come through in their exhibiting at the 1904 St. Louis Fair.

Historical Ironies

If just a little glimpse into that soul had been made, a deep irony concerning them might have been uncovered and appreciated. They were billed as “the Wild Men of Luzon”, but their “wildness”—and this is the irony—was a function of their never having been fully conquered by Spanish arms, their not having been subjugated like the rest of the Philippines.

I bring up this irony because some Filipinos resented the appearance of our “wild” pagan ancestors at the Fair, claiming (quite rightly, I might say) that their being exhibited precisely as wild people gave a very wrong—and unsavory—impression of Filipinos in general, most of whom, they claimed, were civilized and Christian. The complainers were what were in Spanish times called the Illustrados—the civilized, urbane, educated, elite of native Philippine society. But a little thought would bring out this fact: They were such, these Illustrados, because they had been conquered, colonized, hispanicized, Christianized, the very antithesis of our Igorot wild men who were such for the reason that they were just the opposite: un-conquered, un-colonized, un-hispanicized, un-Christianized. That was the irony of our first story—and it was lost, it seemed, on everybody concerned: Americans, Filipinos, Igorots themselves.

With the hindsight of a hundred years, we now see that if our insulted Filipino elite had gone beyond the surface and probed deeper into the Fair’s use of our Igorot compatriots, they might have realized what we have just said above. And they might also have appreciated the fact that the many, if sporadic, rebellions of their own Lowland ancestors against Spanish rule came from the same spirit of freedom that had kept the Igorots fighting off successfully foreign domination over them for more than two centuries. They might have recognized that the despised “wildness” of those mountain folk was due to that fact and they would have discovered themselves in them, seen that the independence they themselves sought first from the Spanish, then from the Americans, was embodied most clearly by those Igorots whose presence at the Fair they felt was too shaming and degrading of Filipinos.

There is an irony too in our second story. The New Society of Marcos was supposed to be based strongly on what he called “barangay democracy”—remember those Barangay Assemblies that were created and were touted as the backbone of the New Society and how they were convened ever so often for referendums where the people were asked to vote on issues according to “suggested answers” by the simple expedient of raising hands? Sham barangay democracy it was from the very start. But if there was any place in the Philippines where barangay democracy already and truly existed and flourished, it was in those villages along the Chico that Marcos was intent on obliterating in its dammed up waters.

That was grand irony. But grander still was the fact that if the Bontok and the Kalinga were able to successfully resist Marcos in his iniquitous dream, it was because they were precisely barangay democracies through and through!

I propose that we now remember those exhibited ancestors of ours for the inner part of them that was not given much notice at the Fair. The outer shell of their culture evoked curiosity, wonderment, possibly even amusement—and yes, indignation at the dog-eating part of it—and it was used for propaganda purposes to rationalize and justify American (or at least President McKinley’s) imperialist ambitions. But their inner selves, their spiritual legacy—I would like to think they are yours too, they are ours. And that is why I was asked to talk about “the essence of culture in our lives.”

That essence, I know, is not exhausted by the two stories I’ve told. And there are many more aspects of Igorot culture that we can talk about, aspects that are probably even more fundamental and basic than what I have chosen to dwell on here. But as I’ve said above, my choice of facets of Igorot culture to dwell on here was what lay below the surface of the “wildness” that Fair-goers in 1904 went to wonder at.

But let me end with another story, this time a personal one and most revealing of something about our people I hadn’t given much thought to until it happened.

A Third Story

I was visiting one day a remote mission parish in the diocese to meet the people over a crisis they were going through: they had just lost their priest who had gone on leave to sort his life out after a scandal he had created, leaving them without a pastor.

They asked me for a replacement. And I asked: “Any priest, so long as he can perform the religious rites you are so used to?” That gave them pause. Then one old lady answered: “No, we don’t want one who will cause the same trouble as the last one.” “Fair enough,” I said. But as we talked on, I realized that it was not the “trouble” that was really at the back of their problem with their former pastor. When I pressed them, the same old lady replied: “We don’t want priests who do not live up to their word. The last one declared his priestly vows in public before all of us when he was ordained. We hold him to his word.”

The word, the priest’s word. To them, this was more important than the trouble itself. That had me thinking all the way back home. Soon after in Bontoc, as I was preparing for Mass one Sunday, the title of the Bible translation in the Bontok language that I was using made me stare at it for a long time and in a flash I understood more fully what the old lady had said about holding their priest to his word. The title of the Bible? Nan Kali nan Chios isnan Kali Tako—"the Word of God in Our Own Language”. The Bontok word kali means “word, speech, language”; but it also means “promise, vow, oath”. The English saying “my word is my bond” (from Shakespeare?) was much truer—and more binding, to risk a tautology—in our language in the fact that “word” and “bond” are expressed by one and the same word, kali.

Keeping one’s word: this was a key value among our people and it was what kept possible the peace pacts (pechen) that they entered into to put an end to tribal wars that now and again erupted among them. “The Wild Men of Luzon”, such were those Igorots advertised at the Fair. If the term was used of them there, it was because Igorots were commonly called and dismissed as salvajes—savages—by the Spanish who couldn’t subdue them! (It was a term that was still being used of us by Lowlanders of the time—and later.) But that dismissal did not bring out the fact that beneath it was a character trait that would have done credit to civilized people of honor everywhere: Igorots were (still are?) people of their word—or at least they put a high value on fidelity to one’s word.

That’s one more irony to add to what we noted earlier about our “Wild Men” at the Fair.

The Essence of Culture in Our Lives

I said I’d end with that third story. And I deliberately chose to end with it because fidelity to one’s word is still, I believe, a prime value among most of our ordinary folk. But it is in grave danger—like many of the other values I’ve mentioned in this talk—of being weakened and disregarded more and more as our people, the schooled ones especially, forget their roots in the de-culturating process of their education and get swallowed up in alien cultures they have to survive in. The Philippines has the unenviable reputation of being one of the most corrupt nations in Asia and unfortunately we in the mountains are being sucked into its culture of corruption. Unavoidably so? Maybe. But this does not stop us from wishing (and working) that the old value of fidelity to one's word would still mark us as a people, especially our elected government officials. For when they swear in their oaths of office to be "public servants”, and they lived up to their word, there would be less stealing from the public purse for private gain—the most common form of corruption at this time.

So back to the un-revised title of this talk: “the Essence of Culture in Our Lives”. If there is any sense to those words as they apply to us, it is this: An Igorot is an Igorot, and a blue-blooded one (or red-blooded one?) if he is faithful to the distinguishing values of Igorot culture and lives them as fully as he can wherever he goes. Those values are by no means unique to us. They will be found in other cultures too, though perhaps manifested in different ways, held on to with greater or lesser affect, practiced with varying intensity. But by that fact alone an expatriate Igorot, if he is faithful to his roots, will be able to contribute everywhere to the enhancement of those same values in his chosen land of residence if his special possession of them shines through in his life and actions. Real citizens of Igorot-land—real citizens of the world: come to think of it, that is exactly what our SLTs, schools of living tradition, seek to make of our young back home.

That’s the end of my talk, but whether you allow me or not, I still have one last story to tell! Back in late December I was in Hapao, a barangay of Hungduan in Ifugao, to bless the mission’s new church. For the occasion, the parishioners gifted me with a two-foot carving of an elderly Igorot warrior, clearly a Bontok native: stocky, stout of legs, heavily muscled, rather balding, with a spear at the ready, sangi (backpack) at his back but without a soklong (basket hat). I brought it home and put it in the dining room. Passing it by one day, I was puzzled by its face—I’d seen it somewhere but couldn’t place it. I got to my room and happened to look in the mirror, and there staring at me was the carved warrior’s face!

I ask all of you: Can you look into a mirror and recognize an Igorot’s face—even if it’s your own?

Francisco F. Claver, S.J.
Centennial of the St. Louis World Fair of 1904
St. Louis, Mo.
July 3, 2004

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Re: [bimak_usa] Fw: Bells Toll for Bishop Francisco Claver

We join the Claver family in mourning the passing away of our dear, dear friend, Bishop Francisco Claver. He was an exemplary clergyman and an Igorot model in his own right. This is one person who was highly educated, very talented, and was very much involved with the challenges of his people, culturally, morally, and spiritually. And yet amongst all this, he remained humble to the end.

He will be greatly missed but will always be remembered. Ed and I were blessed to have had the pleasure of his company and thought provoking conversations during his visits with us here in the east coast and likewise during our visits to Bontoc. I will always treasure his presence along with that of the Rev John Habawel, during my beloved Mother’s wake and funeral service. This was most special as Bishop Claver was an ordained Catholic Bishop but yet, he took the time and came to pray with us at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Bontoc.

In his passing, Bontoc may feel that it has lost a loyal son, however, he will forever live in our hearts. Teng-ab! For sure, an Ifontok will look up to the hills of Teng-ab and there, be reminded always of the good deeds of its son, brother, and Reverend Father, Bishop Francisco Claver.

Rest in peace dear friend and mentor. You have always belonged to God and you now will be forever in your rightful place in Heaven. You will live forever, in our hearts.

Mia Apolinar Abeya & family
Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. 4565_82992053343_727903343_1913604_6854534_n
Edwin & Mia Abeya dancing the Saleksek during the AYPE gathering in
Seattle, Washington. The Abeya´s of Sagada are close family friends of the
the late Bishop Ikoy.

Re: [Igorot-IGO] RE: [bimak_usa] Fw: Bells Toll for Bishop Francisco Claver

Our first acquaintance with the Bishop was in the early 70's during the Marcos marshall law, he made a surprise visit with us, few Igorots, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I remember the meeting we had during his visit was in a hush, hush from Marcos followers, as he was one of the suspected leaders of the NPA. The last time we were in contact was at Teng-ab during our medical mission in Bontoc in 2003. We were housed in Teng-ab and one morning before we started the mission work the medical team spent about an hour with the bishop at his office chatting with him and finally gave us his blessing. Just too bad that my camera with shots of the mission work and our visit with the bishop got lost.

Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. Manong_ceasar_castro_of_bibak_reads_a_message_frpm_mla_mable_elmore_vancouver-kensington_091103134706_l
Caesar Castro
Vancouver B.C., Canada

Now I remember more of Bishop Claver, his visit with us in Winnipeg was all about telling the people how concern and against he was about the martial law, and that his one purpose was to preach to the grassroots against the martial law. His mean topic in 2003 when we saw him at his office in Teng-ab, Bontoc was the bodong among the Kalingas, the revenges still on going. The Canadian doctors in our group were in awe.
A very intellectual man, I was fortunate to have met, he will be missed.

Our deep and sincere condolence to the Claver family

Ceasar & Elisa Tuason Castro
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


From: Thomas Killip
Subject: Re: [mountainprovince] Re: [bimak_usa] The late Bishop Francisco F. Claver.
To: mountainprovince@ yahoogroups. com
Date: Tuesday, July 6, 2010, 3:40 AM

Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. N290109494166_1745

Thomas Killip

To All,
I thought I intended to hibernate for awhile after all the intensity of the recent political exercise but the news of Bishop Francisco Claver's passing away in the peace and quiet of his home at Ateneo de Manila was just too overwhelming it rekindled precious memories of this most illustrous and perhaps the most respected Igorot personality in our time. My last encounter with this great Igorot bishop and leader was in Kalagdaw, Tabuk early last year during the birthday celebration of his younger brother, Manong Billy Claver in a large gathering of Kalinga leaders, pangats, and family friends who gathered to wish him well knowing the fact of his debilitating condition. I suppose that most thoughts at that time were focused on Manong Billy as if that birthday celebration was to be his last goodbye. Or so we thought. But death always comes in very uncertain terms and thus the news of Bishop Claver's demise comes to us more unexpectedly.

In my whole life I was really never that close to Bishop Francisco Claver in terms of social relationships the way that I had been to his brothers like Manong Billy and Louie. For one, I rarely met him in person because he was assigned elsewhere or that he did a lot of traveling in behalf of his church. And of course, in a country where politics and the church do not usually make a good chemistry it oftentimes follows that politicians and men of the frock have their particular social mix. But truth is, in terms of respect, honor, and regard I hold Bishop Francisco Claver in highest esteem. True, there were few occasions that I encountered the good bishop but all these few engagements were both precious and priceless moments in my life because of the impact that it left in my whole outlook of our existence as Igorots, as a people trying to make a mark in history, and to gain equal respects with our other brother Filipinos.

It was during the dark years of martial law, sometime in 1978 that I read a pastoral letter of a Bishop Francisco Claver, Bishop of the Diocese of Bukidnon expressing strong opposition against the mega-projects of President Ferdinand Marcos in the the Cordillera Region where he intended to build a series of dams at different places along the Chico River from Mountain Province all the way to Kalinga in order to generate more electricity and power for the big industries outside of the region. At the height of his power it was plain blasphemy to suggest any hint of opposition to President Marcos. We all know that those who did were immediately sent to prison without the benefit of trial. It was an unofficial "reign of terror" and lucky for those who have survived to this day to tell their stories. In order to survive many leaders chose to seek the comfort and safety of silence. "No talk, no mistake" was the general rule. But here was an unusually quiet personality, a native Bontoc Igorot leader and bishop who chose to come out of the cloistered chamber of his church and rise up to the occasion to tell the dictator his honest opinion and feelings about the whole monstrous plan that was going to inundate whole tribal communities along the Chico River. In effect, Bishop Claver told President Marcos "that such a plan to construct dams along the Chico River in order to provide electricity for the richer sectors of society at the sacrifice of small tribal communities was anti-community, anti-development, and anti-God".He went on to warn the president "not to underestimate the strength of a small people like the Igorots, even their women, and specially their collective strength and power". Among the many political and religious personalities during that period in our history who openly spoke against the president, only Bishop Claver was one leader whom President Marcos did not dare repress or imprisoned. Perhaps the president saw it was too much of a risk with international opinion doing just that. President Marcos however responded by using the Armed Forces of the Philippines to enforce these plans on the ground. He tried to bribe native opposition leaders through his PANAMIN secretary Manda Elizalde and had other leaders imprisoned. Some opposition leaders were not fortunate enough like Macli-ing Dulag who was killed in his own home. But history will tell us that instead, the opposition and struggle against President Marcos and his projects in the Cordillera region grew wider and stronger. Entire communities in different parts of the Cordillera, with various church, political, and traditional leaders, support groups outside the region, and even the NPA united into a people's power until President Marcos suffered defeat. All along, Bishop Francisco Claver was right.
Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. 23966_110971225579552_100000000243716_266097_5914374_n

Tom Killip together with his alumni batchmates in Saint Mary, Sagada.

Looking back at these historical events true "people power", the way that Bishop Claver defined it was born in the Cordillera before the significant lesson finally seeped into the consciousness of the Filipino people in Manila. Whether our brother Filipinos would accept it or not the fact is that having observed the events as they took place in our region and in our mountain communities, it certainly could not have missed their thoughts that if a small people like the Igorots can defeat a powerful dictator like President Marcos through a united and determined opposition how much more a big city like Manila that can draw strength from a similar people's power that was previously shown by the Igorot people of the Cordillera. Thus what happened at EDSA in 1986 was in many respects an inspired and expanded version of previous people's power events in the Cordillera Region.

I am not saying here that Bishop Francisco Claver was the sole strength and inspiration to the formation of a Cordillera people's power because he himself would not accept that proposition. But his moral authority as a bishop, his academic stature, and his cultural prestige being a respected elder and leader provided a strong moral and intellectual backbone to the earlier opposition both here and outside of the Cordillera Region as it metamorphosed into a real "people power".
In later years, specially when he was assigned to the Diocese of Lagawe I had the privilege and honor to directly interphase with Bishop Claver in some programs that involved "peace and development" for the province and the region as well.

In more recent years when our Sagada peace zone expanded and evolved into a wider peace and development program for the province Bishop Claver likewise provided sound advise and linkages that helped consolidate whatever gains this concept was able to achieve. As we all try continue to define what true peace really is for us here in our region, as we try to develop a unique and distinct image or identity for the so-called Igorot, and as we as we try to develop a deeper self-respect for us as a people, I am very certain Bishop Claver will always stand out as a unique pillar of church and native leadership that we will always look up to whenever we are confused. In his dying we will surely miss one of the greatest Igorot intellectuals and leaders whom we hold with highest esteem and honor as he passes this life on earth with flying colors. For all of us in the Cordillera, whether in the government, in the church, or in the community, at this time in our history it is most appropriate to reflect seriously how we can develop more honest and righteous leaders like Bishop Claver.

But in his dying, we should also Rejoice and Thank God the Almighty for giving us one of his most precious gifts- the life, the work, the ministry, and the fine example of his servant, Bishop Francisco Claver.

July 5, 2010-
This evening you can observe at the Sta. Rita Cathedral in Bontoc the outpouring of love and respect for Bishop Francisco Claver by the Bontocs and by friends and admirers from other towns. This would be his last night of vigil at his native hometown before he would be brought to Manila at dawn tomorrow for his final rest. Am admiring the traditional burial custom of the i-Lagods as they chant during the wake of the dead. In a semi-circular formation men and women chant and dance beside the dead as a way of expressing their feelings and final respects. And the women are just too proud wearing their beads and tapis with their tattoed arms- a unique event indeed.

Tom "Champag" Killip
Sagada, Mountain Province


Remembering Bishop Francisco Claver SJ, 1929-2010
Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. 1pix
Published Date: July 5, 2010 By Father Michael Kelly SJ

Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. Fr.kelly
Father Michael Kelly
The sun broke through as we rolled into the remote town where Bishop Francisco Claver wanted to meet parishioners and their priest. It was August 1981, the height of the Ferdinand Marcos Martial Law regime that was to go on another five years.
Cisco asked me the night before if I would like to accompany him the next day to this isolated parish in his mountain diocese in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. There had been some trouble in the previous couple of weeks and he wanted to support the people and their priest.
A bone-jarring three-hour drive along unmade roads in his four-wheel drive later, we arrived, got out and knocked on the parish priest’s door. The 34 year old pastor emerged in shorts and thongs from a wooden hut with a dirt floor, pleased to see his bishop but looking timid and anxious.
After donning a T-shirt, the pastor took us immediately to the nearby church – an open-air barn of a building typical of the variety in the Philippines. On the way, he told us how two more bodies were found floating down the river yesterday, bringing the number in the last fortnight to 12, murder victims of either or both the local land holders and planters or the Communist New People’s Army.
We enter the church to find hundreds of people, some of whom had been in the church overnight, huddled in silence – uncharacteristic for Filipinos. The introductions began, the atmosphere thawed, engagement followed and after what seemed to me like hours – it was probably no more than an hour – Mass began, the singing started and some joy and confidence returned.
To a naive and seminarised Australian, this was gobsmacking stuff. For Cisco Claver, it was his regular ministry. He had been bishop of Malaybalay for 12 years already though he was still not far past 50.
Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. 4560_1s
Jesuit Bishop Francisco Claver

His diocese had been set up as a Jesuit mission territory in the 1950s. As soon as the number of diocesan priests outnumbered the Jesuits in the diocese, he handed it over to a secular priest to run. But that wasn’t for another four years.
These experiences and his unusual instincts for people were what marked Cisco – he engaged and listened to people; he cared more about the Church than Vatican formulas. He was very Filipino – he always thought and spoke of “we” (who he belonged to); he was quick witted and, in a dry way, always fun.
But he was different from many Filipinos – he was an outsider, coming from a tribal group from a mountainous region of the main island in the Philippines – Luzon. His family only became Christians just before he was born and hundreds of years after the Spanish arrived.
As an outsider, he was instinctively suspicious of the “main group” or the “mainstream,” whether the campaign left whose deceit and manipulation he despised or the wealthy elite whose conceit and ruthless disregard for the common folk he derided.
He made plenty of enemies in politics and the Church. One of his arch opponents was the papal nuncio, Archbishop Torpigliani, whose lamentable effect in the Philippines lasted for over 20 years.
A close friend of Imelda Marcos, the nuncio was delighted to receive Cisco’s resignation from Malaybalay after 15 years as its bishop so a diocesan priest could succeed him. Little did the nuncio know what he had done.

Drawing on Gandhi
Cisco moved back to Manila to live at the Jesuits’ university there and work at the newly founded Institute for Church and Society. There, he began writing, advising and commenting on issues of Church and state and the enduring injustices and divisions in Philippine society under the corrupt Marcos regime.
Drawing on Gandhi and others, a particular emphasis in his work was non-violent resistance to injustices and the power of peaceful demonstration.
Cometh the moment, cometh the man. As the Marcos regime wobbled to its end along with its leader’s health, there were unconcealed attempts by former allies like Juan Ponce Enrile to take over and continue to rule by decree. It was 1986, demonstrations were happening regularly and the prospect of change loomed – for good or much worse.
Enter Cardinal Sin, with his famous pastoral that brought literally millions onto the streets. EDSA happened and People Power prevailed. A peaceful change from a corrupt regime was underway and it started with the cardinal’s letter, written for him by Cisco Claver where his lasting commitment to methods of peaceful change brought a result all hoped for but few expected.
After the tumult of the 1980s, Cisco returned to running a diocese – this time one close to his heart among his own tribal group, their first priest and bishop.
They are what we might call stone masons: they build houses and fences from rock rather than the makings common in the Philippines – bamboo and grass. All his life and in whatever Jesuit Community he lived, even when he studied theology at Woodstock, USA, in the 1950s, Cisco’s hobby and exercise was building fences, ones that would last.
What more apt image of him as a priest, Filipino, tribal, Jesuit and bishop?

Strong local Churches
It was his deepest conviction and the subject of his last book published earlier this year that the best fence for the Church was to build strong local Churches. If the Vatican had difficulties with Cisco, as they did in the 1980s, he had difficulties with it.
I remember him telling me once how frustrated he was at the slow progress being made on the dispensation of a priest we both knew in his Malaybalay diocese. “They let us bishops train and decide to ordain priests, but not dispense them when we know the circumstances far better.”
He told the relevant Vatican office that if the priest was not dispensed within a certain time frame, he would do it himself. The priest was quickly laicized.
For all his physical, moral and intellectual strength, it was Cisco’s gracious and gentle humility that left the deepest impression on me over the four decades I knew him – from his first trip to Australia after the last ground-breaking Synod of Bishops in 1971 when he stayed with the Community at the theologate in Melbourne.
An almost natural gift, it seemed, Cisco’s humility expressed itself in his simplicity despite the monumental contribution he made to his country’s history. It kept him close to his own people, to the people he served throughout his life and quite evidently to God.
He may well be the last of the great post-Vatican II leaders of the Church in Asia. If you told him, Cisco wouldn’t know who you were talking about.
Father Michael Kelly SJ has been executive director of UCA News since Jan. 1, 2009. He has worked in radio and TV production since 1982 and as a journalist in Australia and Asia for various publications, religious and secular.
Related report
Bishop who triggered People Power dies, 81

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Post by SVS Headliners on Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:49 pm

Bishop Claver's remains brought to Mtn. Province

Two days after his death, the remains of the retired bishop and staunch human rights advocate Francisco Claver, S.J., were brought to Mountain Province, his home province, on Saturday.

Claver's remains will lie in state at the Cathedral of Sta. Rita, Bontoc for three days, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said.

An article on the CBCP news site said the bishop’s casket will be open for viewing until Sunday morning.

Masses will be held at the Cathedral from Sunday noon to Tuesday noon.

Claver, who died at age 81, will be laid to rest at the Sacred Heart Novitiate Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City after the funeral Mass on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Oratory of St. Ignatius, Loyola House of Studies.

Fr. Manny Samonte of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe said they have already prepared to welcome their late retired bishop with liturgical celebrations.

Samonte added the vicariate’s indigenous people have also organized to pay their last respects.

On Tuesday, the remains will be brought back to the Oratory of St. Ignatius at the Ateneo de Manila University campus.

Claver was born in Bontoc and received his early education in Benguet, Kalinga and St. Francis Xavier Seminary in Baguio City.

He entered the Society of Jesus on May 30, 1948 and received initial Jesuit formation in Novaliches and Cebu.

“After Regency in Davao, he was sent for theology to Woodstock College, Maryland, United States of America, where he was ordained to the priesthood on June 18, 1961," said Fr. William Abbott.

Claver began special studies in Anthropology and spent a year at the Ateneo de Manila University and another two years doing research in mission parishes of Bukidnon.

He established a new mission, the first among the Manobos and later moved to doctoral work at the University of Colorado in 1967.

After completing his course and comprehensive exams, he was told he had been named first Prelate of Malaybalay and consecrated in Baguio City on August 22, 1969, he served Bukidnon from 1969 to 1984, and finished his degree in 1972.

“As bishop, he strongly supported basic ecclesial communities and was an outspoken, clear-minded opponent of the evils of martial law, a stance that won him much respect both here and abroad," Abbott said.

From 1995 to 2004, he served as Apostolic Vicar of Bontoc-Lagawe and health problems brought him back to San Jose Seminary in 2006.

Claver authored The Making of a Local Church.

The CBCP said Claver suffered a stroke several months ago and after spending some time at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, he returned to the infirmary of the Loyola House of Studies.

“Early Wednesday, he suffered breathing problems and low blood pressure forced his return to the hospital for the last time," Abbott said.—JV, GMANews.TV

Bishops pay last respects to Francisco Claver S.J.

07/07/2010 | 08:54 PM

At least 50 Philippine Catholic bishops paid their last respects to the late Bishop Francisco Claver at a funeral Mass in his honor in Quezon City on Wednesday.

Claver, a staunch human rights defender during martial law, died last July 1 from pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung) at age 81.

He was buried later that day at the Jesuit Sacred Heart Novitiate cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City, the Union of Catholic Asian News said in its website on Wednesday night.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo hailed Claver as one of Asia’s greatest Church leaders during the funeral mass attended by priests, nuns, and lay Church workers.

Jesuit Father Calvin Poulin added Claver had a keen eye for detail, seen in his supervision of construction projects in Malaybalay diocese.

Poulin was the late bishop’s vicar general, secretary and companion during his first assignment as bishop in Malaybalay in the southern Philippines in 1969, UCAN said.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales led the concelebrated Mass at the Jesuits’ Loyola House of Studies chapel.

Concelebrating the mass were Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu and apostolic nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams.

Claver was born in Bontoc, Mountain Province in 1929.

He entered the Society of Jesus on May 30, 1948, and was ordained a priest in 1961 after completing theology studies at Woodstock College in Maryland, US.

He obtained a master’s degree in anthropology from the Ateneo de Manila and later a doctorate in the same field from the University of Colorado.

Claver served as first bishop of Malaybalay from 1969 to 1984 and bishop of his home vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe from 1995 to 2004.

"In between these assignments and even during them, he taught and wrote articles on social justice and violence," the UCAN said.

He also drafted the 1986 Philippine bishops’ statement considered to have helped trigger the People Power movement that unseated President Ferdinand Marcos. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV


Bishop Claver, 81

Bishop Francisco Claver, a civil rights advocate during the Marcos martial law regime, died on Thursday. He was 81.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the Jesuit prelate’s death at 2:41 a.m. was due to pulmonary embolism. He was confined at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Center in San Juan City.
CBCP News online said Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, former CBCP head, sent his sympathies in a short message: “Filipino prophet without peer, innovative humble shepherd, a very dear friend. He is with Jesus whom he proclaimed with eloquent words, eloquent and written, in all arena of human life. Who can take his place? My tears flow.”
Claver was born in Bontoc on Jan. 20, 1929 and became a Jesuit priest at age 32 on June 18, 1961. Vito Barcelo
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Post by tribo on Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:44 pm


July 8, 2010, 5:30pm
Remembering the Life and Works of Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J. Fr-emeterio-barcelon-sj_portrait

This is a tribute to a great prelate. (It may limp as a tribute but it may add to the tribute of others.) Previously my idea of a prelate was a tall and dignified priest in red. Bishop Claver was short and stocky but a great man of God. Rome elected him a bishop while he was still in studies doing his Doctorate in Social Anthropology in the University of Denver. He did his "episcopating" as he calls it in three different places: in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, in Bontoc-Lagawe (his home town), and in the Manila Archdiocese as an auxiliary bishop. In 1969 when he came to Malaybalay, there were four diocesan priests in the prelature. Fifteen years later when he left, there were over 50 diocesan priests manning almost all the parishes of Bukidnon. He focused in the formation a diocesan clergy and he was able to do a good job. When he retired as bishop he went to teach at East Asian pastoral institute in the Ateneo de Manila University. Cardinal Sin asked him to help in the Archdiocese of Manila at the same time. Later Archbishop Moreni, the nuncio, persuaded him to go back to his home town in Bontoc where he established the diocese and stayed another nine years till he retired again.

Being an outspoken bishop, he will be remembered for his protests against martial law in Bukidnon and his advocacy of protests with non-violence. He was also vigorous against corruption but aware of its difficulties. He recounts in his book that at a fiesta a group of women church workers had a song and dance, singing how they would denounce the corrupt but their song ended with the phrase: but if the corrupt happens to be our relative, we will look the other way. The audience responded with laughter. He will also be remembered for this book: the making of a local church. It lays a synthesis of where the church is going, guided by Vatican II and PCP II (the pastoral council of the Philippines). Its battle cries are "participation, dialogue, and co-responsibility."

Its underlying theme is sharing. Its fresh look is the responsibility of the Laity in the work not only of evangelization but being Church. The book is a must read for all who want to see the direction the Church is going from a different point of view from that of a European.

As most great men, Bishop Cisco Claver was humble and efficient. He built Igorot-type walls without mortar or cement in Woodstock College in Maryland while doing theology and the path way to the High School from the Jesuit house in the Ateneo. He did this for relaxation. He liked to work with his hands and brawn. They tell the story as new Bishop of Malaybalay that he was working in the garden when a local senora came and requested the gardener to call the Bishop. He left the garden went up to the convento and came back dressed as a Bishop. He was also reluctant to wear his Episcopal ring and had to be reminded to wear it during functions. (We were classmates for over ten years during the regular formation of the Jesuits and he was always helpful. I remember he was the best barber among us when we were novices. Gifted with a brilliant mind he was always diligent in studies but never flaunted his abilities.)

We will miss Bishop Francisco Claver, S.J

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