Passion Play Amphitheatre | Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt via Creative Commons/Flickr
Part XXI of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series
Numeriano Bouffard, founder and prime mover of the “Pueblo Filipino” (PF) retirement and cultural resort at Manzanillo City in Colima Province in Mexico, recently called me. He tapped this columnist to handle the project’s Public Affairs Division and become a member of its Board of Directors. I am also tasked with providing inputs and more ideas for the cultural and recreational aspects of the PF project. Of course, the viable ideas will be turned later into feasibility studies by professional teams of Mexican and OFW architects, builders, engineers, financial and legal experts, and urban planners.
The phone call from “Jefe Ting” was about his idea of building a site for the reenactment of what Catholics and other Christians call the “Way of the Cross” that leads to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Mount Golgotha. Devotees do the “Way of the Cross” as a “Passion Play” during Good Friday every Holy Week.
Immediately I mentioned to Jefe Ting the idea of building a similar “Way of the Cross” with its 14 stations meant for a barrio in one of the mountainous areas of Sorsogon Province in the Philippines. And each station will have a miniature version of the Roman theater – the circular or oval open-air venue with raised seating – built by the Roman Empire in more than 230 locations. They can build much smaller versions in an area of the 1,200-hectare site of the PF.
In fact, we can do a North-American version of a proposal that then-Monsignor Salvador and I conceptualized in the 1970s. I told Jefe Ting that the “Way of the Cross Project” could be done as a short-term project in the PF development plan. The medium-to-long-term phases will be the construction of what I dubbed the “Abraham Square” that may become the site of modern places of worship for the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim pilgrims and believers of the Prophet Abraham and all the other prophets mentioned in their respective holy books.
“In fact, we can do a North-American version of a proposal that then-Monsignor Salvador and I conceptualized in the 1970s. I told Jefe Ting that the “Way of the Cross Project” could be done as a short-term project in the PF development plan.”
Here is the background of the Sorsogon project. Manuel L. Salvador was a scion of the prominent Salvador and Licup clans in the town of Sorsogon (now Sorsogon City) in Sorsogon Province. The province is part of the Bicol Region, the southern end of Luzon. He became a Catholic priest and served in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Sorsogon City. Rev. Fr. Salvador (now deceased) became one of my mentors as an altar boy (from fourth grade up to high school).
Sometime in the 1970s, I visited him (then already a monsignor) in Bulan, Sorsogon Province, where he was the parish priest. He told me that he was given the honor of naming a sitio in Jamorawon barrio of Bulan. He named it the “Monte Calvario,” which was made into a separate barrio (barangay) of its own. Residents called it, however, by its short name, “Montecal.” Many of his former altar boys and the community at large addressed him with this sobriquet, “Mamo Salvador.”
I said that the name of “Monte Calvario” would be perfect real estate for an Asian version of the Oberammergau festival. Msgr. Salvador said that he entertained the same dream for the new barrio.
“The people that have attained economic empowerment would no longer depend on the wealth (often illegally obtained) of the “Herodes politicians” (as I coined, as based on the despotic rule of King Herod) and their supporters in the clergy.”
To those not familiar with it, Oberammergau is located 60 miles southwest of Münich near the Austrian border; the picturesque village of Oberammergau is especially famous for its passion play that is performed every 10 years. The oldest festival in Germany, the Oberammergau Passion Play, has been performed faithfully since 1634 when they rescued the village from a plague. It is also home to several other interesting sights, including beautifully frescoed houses, a museum of nativity scenes, and other cultural icons.
To read more about the “MonteCal” Project in Bulan, please go to this link,
The project in Bulan was shelved, as the Diocese of Sorsogon itself did not want to support it, and the ruling politicians in the province did not want it to happen. Why? Because if the “MonteCal” project were to succeed, the “economic purgatory” (that I coined in 1988) would end after a decade or two of socioeconomic development anchored on the “Abraham Square” proposal. The people that have attained economic empowerment would no longer depend on the wealth (often illegally obtained) of the “Herodes politicians” (as I coined, as based on the despotic rule of King Herod) and their supporters in the clergy. In short, “patronage politics” would end if the people become financially independent.
Turning the Monte Calvario Dream in Sorsogon Into Reality in Mexico
The suggested plan is to approach Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders in North America and other countries to become stakeholders in the proposed “Abraham Square” in Pueblo Filipino.
And I started the ball rolling by contacting the Los Angeles County-based bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or by its English term, the Philippine Independent Church (PIC). He heads the IFI Diocese of Western USA, Western Canada, and the Islands of the Pacific. Since the IFI works closely with the Episcopal Church of America, I also contacted the highest-ranking Asian prelate (of Filipino descent) of the Episcopal Church, a common friend of the bishop, and me.
“”The EPIC (combining “Episcopal” and “Philippine Independent Church”) can be the way to help their church members, especially in the Third World, get out of the “economic purgatory” by establishing the so-called “Parish of the Future.”
I propose that the IFI and the Episcopal Church build what I tentatively call the “EPIC Cathedral” for the “Abraham Square” project of the Pueblo Filipino in Mexico. Of course, it will not be built overnight. But in a time frame that can begin in 2022 and end successfully in 2047, a 25-year development program. If this happens, its inauguration will be timely when Mexico becomes the fifth-biggest economy in the world in 2050 (as predicted by many financial experts and leaders like former Mexican President Vicente Fox).
The EPIC (combining “Episcopal” and “Philippine Independent Church”) can be the way to help their church members, especially in the Third World, get out of the “economic purgatory” by establishing the so-called “Parish of the Future.” I presented its concept to the Parish Council of Bacon (now a gerrymandered district of Sorsogon City) during the Holy Week of 2016. It is a pending proposal that I also published as a Facebook Note.
More details about the “EPIC Cathedral” and the “Parish of the Future” projects by the next edition of this column.