Middle banner: ‘Recognizing the sacredness of life and the needed support on family, a right of every citizen; with God’s grace (support), fight the RH Bill.’
by Erwin B. Daculan
What do I do?
…It rarely happens that one is asked to make a sacrifice for his faith and walk an extra mile under an angry sun to publicly profess it. February 11 was that day for me. With my camera and a liter of water in my bag, I joined the March for Life.
I bore no expectation. I was there to offer my support for whatever its worth. I joined because I am a Catholic and my Mother is calling me. It was just past noon, and it was strangely hot. Rain and flood were normal attributes of the days prior to the March for Life. Yet, today – this day – was hot. I could imagine God saying ‘Let there be light!’ and the clouds retreated. How can one lament of the heat when it was such a glorious day!
I planned to pray all four mysteries of the Holy Rosary as I walked toward my destination – the Fuente Osmeña Circle. The joyful mystery easily passed through my mouth and heart – my heart, especially, when I was walking and praying with students from the University of San Jose – Recoletos (my high school alma mater). It was a very large group, complete with crowd control, communications, video recording, faculty and students from primary, secondary and tertiary level. Adelante, San Jose! Except for the Josenians (administered by priests from the Order of Augustinian Recollects), all other Catholic schools sent but small representative contingents. Most glaring disproportionate representation came from the largest Catholic school system in Cebu – the University of San Carlos run by priests of the Society of Divine Word (SVD). I work there, and that makes it doubly painful. Yet, I was not surprised – knowing their stand at certain things.
‘Why aren’t they praying?’ Passing through the Cebu Normal University, I heard this chatter. They were talking about the marchers. At this street, these were students from Catholic schools and universities. Many of them were bringing placards and banners with pro-life messages. Yet, they were marching on silently. Some were talking, but they were not a rowdy crowd. How I wished I brought along pro-life pamphlets and materials for these young Catholics to read and get informed! It was a missed opportunity – and I resolved it will not happen again.
While students were marching towards the Fuente Osmeña Circle, a trickle of pro-life marchers was moving in the opposite direction. They were obviously pro-life marchers with their pro-life t-shirt and placards. I was beginning to be alarmed. The march was supposed to last until 5:30 pm, and it was only 2:15 pm – just 15 minutes after the march started. Why weren’t they staying? I reached Fuente around 2:30 pm, and saw what I feared. The amount of people coming into the assembly area was just slightly higher than those who are leaving. The place would have overflowed if all of them stayed. Fuente Osmeña Circle was just slightly bigger in area than the map of the Philippines in Luneta.
The seminarians were there. The faculty of Pope John XVIII seminary was amply represented. The nuns were there – though, not all were represented. A few priests in their clerical garbs were present. The Knights of Columbus were also represented – though, their number was lower than I expected. There were representatives from the north and south ends of Cebu and those in between. Couples for Christ prominently displayed banners and pro-life messages. A number of other lay organizations, ministries and apostolate stayed on. Those who stayed then were mostly individuals connected with a particular Catholic group. Yet, those I saw leaving the area was also connected with a particular Catholic group. What kept some from staying and others from leaving? Should we try to encourage them to stay or should we be happy of those who do? I do know that Gideon and his 300 men (cf. Judges 7) defeated an enemy far more imposing than them because they had God’s blessing. Lest we glory that we are delivered from the RH bill through our numbers, only a small band of faithful Catholics lapped the waters of sound doctrine with their tongues. Yes, those that remained chanted with conviction the belief that which they profess.
Many placards were carried that spoke of personal conviction. Many more spoke of decisions made as a group. I saw at least two images of the Blessed Virgin Mary carried along and one of the Holy Child. Most of the older generations prayed the Holy Rosary as they walked. The scene gave me hope. Even if the young generation seemed indifferent, the Catholic faith in Cebu was still alive and bursting in a kaleidoscope of colors. Still, we needed to re-engage the youth in a serious dialogue and catechization. That is manifestly obvious from observable responses among the young attendees.
With cramped left leg, I left the place. My new mission field had been laid out for me. Tonight, I will pray that the Lord will send me as laborer into His harvest.
Snr. Sto. Niño, have mercy on us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu, pray for us!
Another perspective on the Cebuanos Unite for Life March from Manny Amador