Thursday, September 25, 2014

Prepare Enough Cash: Seemingly Unfriendly BPI Branch

When going to visit the grave of Fr. Franceso Paleola, S.J., I suggest bring extra CASH, in case you will find yourself with a seemingly unfriendly BPI branch.

This was what I found out when I went to BPI that Monday morning of 22 September 2014:

ATM to the left has a note saying "NO CASH."
ATM to the right has a note saying "OUT OF ORDER."
      Translation:  It is FORBIDDEN to ask for the Guard's help so that they can remain in their post.

The note is understandable -- that is, guards are supposed to secure the bank.  But with NO CASH and OUT OF ORDER ATMs, what do you do?  Who do you approach?  And this was at 830AM and the bank was not yet open, though many employees were already inside.

And, worse, the computer screens which supposedly service customers's transactions were not in good working condition.  Keying in 3000 results in 3070 because the 0 becomes a 7.  There was 1 customer who was trying to enter her transaction details that seemed forever.

This situation would not be a big thing in Manila as there are many BPI branches in many parts of the city.  But, if Dipolog City only has 1 BPI branch, this means trouble for a passing through traveler.

"Visit the Grave of Fr. Francesco Paleola," Fr. Bernad suggested.

"Visit the grace of Father Francesco Paleola," Father Miguel Anselmo Bernad, S.J., suggested when I last saw him in 2005.  "It's Francesco because he is Italian.  Otherwise, most people would pronounce his name as Francisco."  And that was 9 years ago.

I did not know, however, where in Ponot, Zamboanga del Norte Fr. Paleola's "supposed" grace was located.  I have searched all over the internet about its exact location but none was helpful, except that he was buried in Ponot (now called the municipality of Jose Dalman).

So I thought that I really had to find it out for myself -- so that I may also be able to help others find Fr. Paleola's grave.  Off I went to Ponot then last 23 September 2014,

From Dipolog City, take a Rural Transit bus that goes to Ipil or Zamboanga del Sur.  Ponot is supposedly 54 km away from Dipolog City so the trip takes around an hour.  Fare is P60 one way (23 Sept 2014 rate).

When on the bus, tell the bus conductor (or the driver), whoever is nearer to you, to tell you that the bus has reached Barangay Poblacion of Ponot (or Jose Dalman).  Get off infront of the Jose Dalman Public Market (picture attached).

Infront of the public market are tricycles waiting for passengers.  Look for Mr. ROGELIO S. MANGUDA, a driver who knows where the gravesite of Fr. Paleola is.

Actually, the gravesite is not far from the public market.  It's around 100 meters from the tricycle terminal area, then, after one turns right after these 100 meters, another 100 meters towards the sea, the grave site is there.

I forgot to take a picture of the "supposed" mound or grave of Fr. Paleola.  This was because I could not believe that I have actually found his grave with such ease, thanks to Manong Rogelio who told me that he knows where the grave of Fr. Paleola is.  Methinks that it was Fr. Paleola himself who asked Manong Rogelio to fetch me at the tricycle waiting area, after I ate, weird, now when I think of it, DINUGUAN.

Dinuguan -- blood.  Like the blood of the martyred Fr. Francesco Paleola.  (But the dinuguan looked very appetizing then so I could not help but place an order that 3pm after getting off the Rural Transit bus.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fr. Francesco Paleola -- Next Saint of the Philippines?

Padre Francesco Palliola. aka Francisco Paliola, Paleola
Born Nola, Naples, Italy • 10 May 1612; Died Ponot, Zamboanga • 29 January 1648

Of his parents, childhood and youth, we know little. He entered the Society of Jesus on 2 February 1637 completing his priestly studies and being ordained. While he could have looked forward to an ecclesiastical career which would reward him with set income and prestige, he chose instead to enter the Jesuit novitiate. After completing two years, he went on to study Grammar for another two years. One day he heard at the community table, reports from the Indies about the great labor of Jesuits, the need for more workers, and about the many souls lost for lack of workers, and finally, the martyrdom of many. He asked the superiors with all the enthusiasm to be sent East, and set sail for the Philippines, where he arrived in the year 1643.

He volunteered to be sent to the island of Mindanao, which was a most challenging field because of its extent, the variety of tribes and religions and to strong presence of Islam, which makes the island’s conversion to Christianity difficult.

Padre Francesco was quite successful in his actions. He ministered to the baptized as a loving pastor, so much so that even the non-Christians recognized him as saintly. He established settlements or reductions, to better catechize and serve the people as was the common practice of those days. But there was a powerful native leader, who after being baptized, abandoned the faith and returned to his animistic practices. Through his example and influence, he persuaded others to abandon the Faith. Padre Francesco, seeing that he could not make any progress with this person and his followers, asked that they come to his house, where they could stay for a set time.

The apostate took this opportunity to gather a crowd of followers, including women and visited the Padre. Armed to the teeth, the crowd went to the priest’s convento. The native leader drew a dagger and slit the Padre’s throat while another thrust a spear through his shoulder bone into his heart, killing him instantly. They then went on to desecrate the cross Padre Francesco had, and destroyed; then they went on a rampage and desecrated the church, destroying the religious images and using the chalice and paten for their drinking bouts.

The other Christians learned of his martyrdom and holy death, and they came for his body and buried it with much honor and venerating him as a martyr of Christ. In Manila a fiesta for all was declared celebrating his martyrdom. He died on 29 January 1648. He was 36 and 11 years of those years he spent in the the Society.

Padre Francesco Paleola continues to be venerated as a holy person and numerous reports claim answered prayers to those who come to his tomb.

lifted from:

Fr. Francesco Paleola -- Proto-Martyr of Mindanao

The case of Francesco Paleola, S.J.

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On 29 January 1648 – three and a half centuries ago – a 35-year-old Italian Jesuit priest was murdered by Suban-on in Punot, in what is now the province of Zamboanga del Norte. He was killed out of hatred for his missionary work, and may thus be considered the first to die for the Christian Faith in Mindanao.

Although that happened more than 350 years ago, that priest’s memory is still preserved in that region, and what is believed to be his grave has become a place of pilgrimage. Some things have happened at that grave which seem out of the ordinary.

His name was Francesco Paleola (although when he arrived in the Philippines his Spanish Jesuit colleagues hispanicized the name to Francisco Palliola). He was born in Nola, in the territory of Naples, on 10 May 1612 and studied for the priesthood, being ordained on 17 May 1636 at the age of 25. A year later, already a priest, he entered the Jesuit novitiate and volunteered for the missions. Assigned to the Philippines, he went to Spain and there joined a large group of 41 Jesuits bound for our islands via Mexico. They arrived in Manila in July 1643 and Father Paleola was at once assigned to the missions of western Mindanao with headquarters at Dapitan. There he was assigned to work among the Suban-on tribe. He spent most of his first year in Mindanao learning their language. He apparently became proficient in it and he gained many converts.

But he incurred the hatred of a man who had committed murder, and on 29 January 1646 this man and his companions murdered the priest.

A year before his death, on the feast of the Epiphany, 6 January 1647, Father Paleola had pronounced the final vows of the Jesuit Order. The ceremony took place in the church in Dapitan.

Where was he buried? In those days bodies were not embalmed and burial had to take place within 24 hours. One account says that his Suban-on converts carried the body the long distance to Dapitan where it was buried. Another version is that they burned the body on the spot where he was killed.

But there is a grave in Punot (the place where he had been murdered) which is pointed out as the grave, and this has become a place of pilgrimage. Even members of the Suban-on tribe are said to come to the grave and pray or light candles.

Strange things are said to be happening at that gravesite. It is said that at night there is a glow over the grave that serves as a beacon to travelers. Some cures have been reported.

One particular case is documented. The present parish priest of Dipolog, a monsignor, affirms that he had a growth in his mouth which was feared might be cancerous. He went to the grave and prayed to Father Paleola. He also said Mass over the grave. The following morning (he says) all trace of the growth in his mount was gone.

These happenings have been reported to the Jesuit Provincial who has appointed someone to investigate the matter. The result of that investigation is being anxiously awaited by many in Dipolog.