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A Macabebe in Heaven

A Macabebe in Heaven

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A 5-part series written by Robby Tantingco in 2010 on the life and death of Felipe Songson
A 5-part series written by Robby Tantingco in 2010 on the life and death of Felipe Songson

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Carlos Antonio Palad on Mar 16, 2012
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By Robby Tantingco (A series in five parts published in SunStar Pampanga in August 2010)

PART 1: (Published August 3, 2010) Copied from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/tantingco-macabebe-heaven IS IT possible that one of the most reviled characters in Philippine history – the Macabebe Soldier, the Spaniards' loyal companion in their disgraces and their glories, and source of all the contempt and ridicule heaped upon all Kapampangans – can actually achieve the ultimate vindication and recognition by becoming... a saint?? Yes, it's possible and is, in fact, about to happen. The parishioners of Macabebe town are now promoting the cause of beatification of Felipe Sonsong, a full-blooded Kapampangan who fought in the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660, then served in the Spanish army and helped put down the Chinese uprising in 1662, before becoming a Jesuit lay missionary to the Marianas (now Guam). Like St. Francis of Assisi, he gave up his family and worldly possessions to live a life of total poverty and self-denial. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, his thoughts, words and deeds were recorded for posterity, in his case by Fr. Lorenzo Bustillo, SJ, who was part of the mission to Marianas. In fact, Sonsong was second only to Jose Rizal as the most documented Filipino in the entire Spanish colonial period. There is more historical data about Sonsong than Lorenzo Ruiz, who is now a saint, or Pedro Calungsod, who is now a blessed (one step below sainthood). This should make it easier to put Felipe Sonsong on the road to sainthood. Calungsod was in fact with Sonsong in the same mission to Marianas, along with their team leader, Fr. Diego Luis de Sanvitores, also recently declared a blessed. And it was actually Sonsong who had a reputation for holiness when he was still alive. Because "he died with the reputation of a saint," wrote Bustillo, it was the Spanish Governor of Marianas himself, accompanied by ranking Spanish military officers, who carried his coffin to the grave. Sonsong was "in every respect an angel in a mortal body," Fr. Bustillo wrote his Jesuit superiors in Rome when Sonsong died in 1686. "Everyone revered him as a saint."

Sanvitores and Calungsod died as martyrs in 1672. In 1684, or 12 years later, it was Sonsong who was attacked by the same Chamorro tribesmen, but he died from his wounds only six months laterwhich is why the proponents of his beatification will have to make a case for delayed martyrdom. Otherwise, it will be a longer route to sainthood because non-martyrs are required to perform miracles as proof that they're in heaven and therefore deserve to be called saints. I hope Kapampangans – who are among the most pious people on these islands – would also have a saint of their own, now that Tagalogs have Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Cebuanos have Blessed Pedro Calungsod. And I hope it would be Felipe Sonsong. If he indeed becomes a saint, he would truly be an interesting saint of the Catholic Church, because of his race (Kapampangan), his age (75 when he died), and his life story (a Macabebe soldier turned missionary). Felipe Sonsong was born in 1611 to a prominent family of politicians and soldiers in Macabebe. His father Ramon Sonsong was a two-term mayor (gobernadorcillo) of the town; his brother Agustin was a ranking officer of the Spanish army (maestre de campo, the highest military position a native could aspire for) and also a two-term mayor; and his nephew Agustin Jr. was a sargento mayor in the Spanish army who joined the failed Kapampangan Revolt. Felipe Sonsong's own son, Jeronimo, became the longest-serving mayor of Macabebe – he was reelected 10 times! (That's a record even Mayor Boking Morales will envy.) Felipe chose to be a farmer rather than become a politician or military man like most members of the Sonsong clan, because he wanted to show he could support his wife and son on his own, and also because he had an intense devotion to San Isidro, patron saint of farmers. The vandala system (compulsory sale of rice harvests to the colonial government at very low prices) that the Spaniards imposed on farmers hit Felipe Sonsong hard. This was followed by the conscription, where Kapampangan men, farmers like Sonsong included, were herded off to the forests to cut timber for the Cavite shipyards, causing crop failure and famine in Pampanga. These Kapampangan farmers-turned-woodcutters started the Kapampangan Revolt of 1660. The Sonsongs were among the leaders, with Felipe's nephew Agustin Jr. serving as Francisco Maniago's emissary to Pangasinan and Ilocos-two provinces that also wanted to join the rebellion. Felipe Sonsong himself, already 50 at the time but still an excellent arquebus (rifle) shooter, joined the revolt. (It was his skill with the arquebus that he would also use later in the Marianas when Chamorros attacked their mission.) All the leaders of the Kapampangan Revolt were arrested and executed-all, that is, except the Sonsongs (probably because Spain was still grateful to Agustin Sr. for his long and distinguished military service, or maybe because the family paid ransom money).

Felipe Sonsong was absorbed into the Spanish army, which could use his skill with the arquebus. In 1662, he participated in the campaign against a Chinese uprising in Manila (the panicky Spaniards had feared an invasion by the Chinese pirate Koxinga, which never materialized). To the devil's advocate in the cause for beatification who is expected to question Sonsong's participation in wars and revolts, we can argue that he was merely obeying orders from his colonial masters (in the case of the Chinese uprising), merely trying to end a grave injustice (in the case of the Kapampangan Revolt), and merely defending his and his companions' lives (in the case of the Chamorro attacks). Shortly afterward, when Sonsong was 56 years old, his wife died. His only son fully grown by then (Jeronimo would serve his first of 10 terms as mayor of Macabebe four years later), Sonsong left behind everything he had to his son and joined the religious orders. Thus began this Macabebe soldier's journey on the long and narrow path to sainthood.

PART 2 (Published on August 9, 2010) Copied from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/tantingco-macabebe-heaven-0 NO ETHNIC groups in these islands have been stereotyped as much as Kapampangans have. We've been tagged as dugong aso, mayabang, rebelde, masarap magluto. Well, you can add one more trait to the list: relihiyoso. Just count the number of Masses said every Sunday in Pampanga churches, the number of people in each Mass, and the number of parishes in each town (not to mention the number of bishops in the archdiocese), and then consider the role the clergy played in leading the people out of the dark days of Pinatubo, and the readiness with which they elected a Catholic priest as their governor. The country's first priests, first nuns, first Jesuits, first Recollects, first cardinal – they all came from Pampanga. The town that has produced the most number of priests in the Philippines is Betis, which is actually just a barrio of Guagua. The Kapampangan Revolt of 1660 fizzled out partly because Francisco Maniago could not get the critical mass of Kapampangans to support his cause-they had all been talked out of it by their parish priests! The Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas mentioned one Augustinian friar, Fr. Jose Duque, "who was in charge of isolating and pacifying the tumult and revolt that so disturbed the loyalty of the Pampangueños in 1660. He calmed their ferocity with his ardent sermons, and reduced them to meek lambs." During the Revolution against Spain, Kapampangans expressed their gratitude and fidelity to their Spanish parish priests by saving them from the wrath of the revolucionarios (except those in Mabalacat and Mexico towns, where the friars were hanged).

In Angeles, for example, parishioners petitioned to retain their Spanish parish priest who "is the reason not a single person in this town has ever made common cause with the insurgents." The friars felt so secure in Pampanga that many of them stayed here long after Spain had ceded the colony to the United States. One founded St. Augustine Academy in Floridablanca in 1951 and another founded St. Catherine Academy in Porac in 1945. And then there's Felipe Sonsong, the Macabebe soldier turned missionary, who is being promoted as a possible candidate for beatification and, who knows, even canonization. Imagine how a race, barely a few dozen years after being Christianized in 1571, already producing saints and martyrs. Sonsong is actually only one of several Kapampangans who deserve to be canonized. To continue from last week's column: Seven years after the Kapampangan Revolt, and shortly after his wife's death, Sonsong, already 56 at the time, left behind all his worldly possessions and entered the religious life, first with the Augustinians in Intramuros. Sonsong served his superiors "with great promptness and attentiveness," imagining himself "as a slave of the religious." He helped mostly in the construction of houses, convents and churches, and soon he made a reputation for himself as a master carpenter, so that when the Dominicans needed someone to build a church in the Parian district, Sonsong was volunteered by his Augustinian superiors. He had now become quite a devotee of St. Joseph the Carpenter, just as he had been devoted to St. Isidore while he was still a farmer. Sonsong also wore the brown scapular as a sign of his devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Now with the Dominicans, Sonsong was assigned a spiritual director, who saw Sonsong's "profound humility and holy manner" and made him a donado, the title given to those laymen who could not be admitted into the novitiate (because they were natives) but were allowed to perform some of the missionaries' work. Meanwhile, in another part of Intramuros, the Jesuit priest Fr. Diego Luis de Sanvitores had just acquired funding from the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Ana, for a mission to the Ladrones Islands (eventually renamed Marianas in her honor), and was looking for volunteers to join him on the trip. Sonsong went to see Fr. Sanvitores, throwing himself at his feet, and "with many sighs and sobs, begged him to be so kind as to bring him with him to the mission he was planning." Fr. Sanvitores actually preferred younger men who could withstand the rigors of the journey and the harsh conditions in the mission, but the 57-year-old Kapampangan who was now raining tears all over

his shoes looked strong enough (he was, after all, a soldier, farmer and carpenter), so Fr. Sanvitores accepted him. Sonsong's first assignment, which probably puzzled him, was to sew and mend the clothes of the members of Fr. Sanvitores' mission. "Though he had not previously exercised this occupation," wrote Fr. Lorenzo Bustillo, one of the members of the mission, "the good will and charity with which he burned to serve God in whatever task they assigned to him, made him succeed in everything." Finally, on the day of their departure, Fr. Sanvitores assembled his team at the port in Cavite: he had 12 Spaniards, four of whom were Jesuits, and 19 natives, including 14-year-old Pedro Calungsod of Cebu (who was a catechist) and 10-year-old Andres de la Cruz of Pampanga (who was the soprano in a boys' choir that would join the trip), and a few other Kapampangans who were all teenagers. Felipe Sonsong was the oldest, even older than Fr. Sanvitores himself, who was 41. And yet he behaved like he was the servant of everybody, executing every task with great charity. "He did not go out of his little corner until he had finished what he had been entrusted with, except to go to some other necessary task to which he had been newly assigned," noted Fr. Bustillo. As soon as he finished one task, he quickly handed it to Fr. Sanvitores "so that the latter might occupy him anew, without ever giving in to idleness." In the rare times when he had no assignment, Sonsong "totally occupied himself in devotions and spiritual books, in long periods of prayer, and in giving good advice to those of his nation (fellow Kapampangans)... so as to do their best in serving God." Sonsong also "instructed them on the mysteries of our Faith. These were his usual conversations when he spoke with those of his nation or with Spaniards, in one language or the other." Afterwards Sonsong would bow to them and asked pardon "for whatever errors he might have committed" and then, "showing reverence to all, he bade them farewell." They reached Guam after more than a year on the sea (their ship first sailed to Acapulco, Mexico before sailing back to Guam). (More next week)

PART 3 (Published on August 16, 2010) Copied from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/tantingco-macabebe-heaven-part-3 ON AUGUST 17, 1667 (or 343 years ago today), Fr. Luis Diego de Sanvitores, SJ and his group sailed for the Marianas to establish a Spanish colony and preach Christianity to the Chamorro natives. (The Marianas include the islands Guam and Saipan.)

Instead of sailing directly to the Marianas, they first hitched a ride on the regular galleon trip to Acapulco, Mexico, where they would stay for a while to recuperate and pick up supplies. The Manila-Acapulco trip lasted about six months (August to March). Then they took another galleon, this time from Acapulco to Manila. They got off when they passed by the Marianas, in June 1668. As soon as they landed on the shore, Felipe Sonsong made a little scene when he suddenly threw himself at the feet of Sanvitores, begging him not to hesitate assigning him any task, including the most difficult ones, even if it meant shedding his blood, as long as it would help in the conversion of the islanders. Sanvitores instead gave him the task of “arranging and adorning” the missionaries’ living quarters and chapel. Sonsong sewed “pieces of colored sinamay cloth for the ornaments and hangings of the altar,” wrote Fr. Bustillo, SJ in an eyewitness account. He also created outfits “to cover the nakedness” of Quipuja, the village chief of Agana, and the other natives. (If and when Sonsong is canonized, fashion designers, tailors, interior decorators and production designers can make him their patron saint.) The Chamorros were actually quite civilized; they had massive stone monuments (similar to those on Easter Island) and they spoke Austronesian dialects (they had words like matua, matapang and duende), but they kept and worshipped their ancestors’ skulls and a number of them were sexually promiscuous. The first big religious celebration on the island was the procession on the feast of Corpus Christi, which was attended by hundreds of Chamorros. The sight moved Sonsong so much that when he returned to his room he began sewing and mending the clothes of the missionaries and all their lay companions, as well as making rosaries for the newly baptized Chamorros. The following year, after the islanders constructed a larger chapel for the missionaries, Sonsong built its sanctuary with “boards hewed from coconut trees more than a vara in width (vara is a Spanish measurement equivalent to 84 cm).”

He decorated the retablo with holy pictures which he himself had framed on canvases. The retablo, according to Fr. Bustillo, “was quite beautiful for this land.” It had the images of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist, the designated patron saint of the island (because they had arrived there on his feast day.) Sanvitores dedicated the new church to the Holy Name of Mary (hence, Marianas) on February 2, feast of the Purification of Our Lady.

Sonsong also constructed a second floor on the missionaries’ living quarters. Afterwards, he went to see Sanvitores, throwing himself on the ground as usual. Sonsong sobbed and begged the priest to allow him to be admitted to the Jesuit Order as a lay brother (donado), which meant formally taking the Jesuit vows and wearing the Jesuit garb (without actually becoming a priest). Sanvitores gently told him there was no need for it since Sonsong was already a Jesuit “interiorly.” The priest then took the opportunity to advice the 58-year-old Kapampangan to go easy on “his penances, disciplines and hairshirt (a coarse undergarment made of animal hair)” which the priest considered severe for Sonsong’s age and an added burden to his already heavy workload. Sonsong “submitted to everything without the least disagreement, though he regretted being deprived of the practice of the penances. But he sacrificed his own will to God.” As the feast of Pentecost neared, Sonsong once again prostrated himself at the feet of Sanvitores “with his eyes bathed in tears,” and once more asked to be admitted to the Society of Jesus. But Sanvitores again replied that “this had already been done interiorly and there was no need for it since God had already accepted the oblation of his submissive will and good intention.” Sonsong, however, persisted. Describing himself “a vile little worm,” he told Sanvitores that even slaves wore the insignia and uniform of their masters. “Although I don’t deserve it,” he said, “still it befits the generosity of masters to grant it to the slave who is proud to be a slave of such a master and who, as a sign of his fidelity and desire to serve until death, earnestly requests it.” Compelled by his “fondness” for Sonsong and Sonsong’s “convincing reasons, spoken with such feeling,” Sanvitores embraced him and promised to decide on it on Pentecost day. With that, Sonsong kissed the priest’s hand and once again “retired to his little corner.” On the eve of Pentecost, Sanvitores summoned Sonsong and told him in advance to just kneel instead of prostrating himself as usual. The priest then “blessed a kind of sotana (cossack or surplice), of narrower collar and much shorter than that which the religious use, together with a cincture (cord or sash).” He helped Sonsong put it on. Sonsong “was filled with emotion and fervor, as may be imagined, for this singular gift the Lord was making to him, and because he now saw fulfilled his great yearnings and desires.” The next day, on the feast of Pentecost, the joy with which Sonsong received Holy Communion “was quite extraordinary.” “From that day on,” wrote Fr. Bustillo, “he was more and more humble, placing himself below everyone as being the most vile creature in the world, acquiring more and more virtues of all kinds in accordance with his humble state, which edified all of us who knew him.”

Fr. Bustillo then wrote, “I will say something about all those virtues though it will not be possible to say everything, for they will require a better pen than mine.” (More next week) PART 4 (Published on August 23, 2010) Copied from: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/tantingco-macabebe-heaven-part-4 IF AND when Felipe Sonsong of Macabebe is canonized, he would be an unusual saint for Filipinos and Kapampangans. His statue would be quite different from those of Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, which portray them as young men in peasant clothes. Sonsong, who was nearing 80 when he died, would be a gaunt old man and in cinctured black cossack (although a shorter version and with a smaller collar, the type that Jesuit lay brothers wore at the time). I don't know if his image would be holding a palm branch, the traditional symbol of martyrdom, like the images of both Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod do. (There's a question about whether he died a martyr or not, as we shall see later.) And I don't know how Kapampangans will react when their first cabalen to become a saint would be known for – of all virtues – Humility, which is the one virtue that's not found in the Kapampangan dictionary. Felipe Sonsong "could not bear to hear others praise him and speak well of him," wrote the Jesuit chronicler Fr. Bustillo, who was with Sonsong in the Marianas. (In contrast, most Kapampangans could not bear not to hear others praise them and speak well of them.) Sonsong often told others "he was not the kind of person they thought he was," and he did not do anything "to be seen or esteemed by men, but only by God. He considered everyone his superiors, not only theoretically but also in practice."

When the Jesuit priests ordered him to supervise others (that included Pedro Calungsod and the Kapampangan boys), Sonsong supervised them "with humility." When they showed displeasure, he supervised them "with firmness," but he did this "with the proper respect and submissiveness on his part, asking them pardon at the end, for love of God, for whatever he might have offended them in. It seemed he wanted to place himself beneath the feet of everyone." Sonsong "did not let pass any occasion which offered itself for the exercise of humility, both in interior and exterior acts." For example, he always "kissed the hands of the priests with devotion and submission, bowing his whole body to the ground even when on his knees."

Most important of all, "his charity was a good match for his humility, since he had much of it for all." When he was ordered to do something, "immediately, without refusing anything, he carried it out until it was finished." If another order came in while he was still with the first one, "with his polite manner and courteous reply in words full of humility and charity, he made up for what he could not do" but once the first work was done, "he promptly turned to the other one." His superiors initially tasked him with "sewing, repairing and remaking many vestments and ornaments for divine worship. These works turned out as perfect and faultless as if they had been made and adorned by a perfect master of the trade." This really amazed the Jesuit priests because Sonsong was a carpenter, not a tailor or artist. "This was so," Fr. Bustillo wrote, "because he applied himself so intensely" to every task at hand, and he took delight in decorating vestments with the image of the Passion of Christ. Sonsong also "sewed and mended the clothes of all of us like a solicitous and loving mother with so many children to take care of. He made, mended and repaired clothing so that even though poor, (our lay companions) would go about with neatness and propriety." "Alternating with this charitable occupation," wrote Fr. Bustillo, "was another occupation, namely, building churches and houses. In this he was tireless, because he imagined himself building castles and temples where God Himself was to dwell, and where the souls of these poor (Chamorros) would be nourished." "It was wonderful to see in a man of his age, short in stature and already grown thin, the earnestness and energy with which he undertook work sometimes so excessive, and often in the worst heat of the sun, rolling over, hewing, and carrying logs, all bathed in sweat." But "the love of God burned in his heart, so that he seemed not to feel all these excessive labors." One day, Sonsong fell from the scaffolding while doing measurements on a building. "It was a miracle he did not kill himself, since he fell from quite a height," reported Fr. Bustillo. The accident forced Sonsong to walk with a cane for the rest of his life. Still, he "returned to finish this building and to start many others, as if nothing had happened to him." Sonsong also found time to attend two or more Masses a day and "other devotions." Bustillo wrote that "it was a source of wonder to see the growth of these buildings side by side with the time he spent in the spiritual exercises he practiced without fail every day." Eventually, the good relations between the Jesuits and the Chamorros soured after islanders started getting sick and dying. (Indeed, their population which stood at 100,000 at the time of the Jesuits' arrival would dwindle to a mere 1,800 a century later.)

The reason was probably the diseases the Spaniards had brought along with them (for which the islanders had no immunity), but the islanders began spreading rumors blaming the epidemic on the sacramental water and oil of the missionaries. Relations among the different tribes in the Marianas soured as well, as some of them remained loyal to the Spaniards. When one tribe ambushed missionaries, for example, another tribe would retaliate on behalf of the Jesuits. The lay missionaries, including Pedro Calungsod and Felipe Sonsong, were of course prepared to defend themselves against the islanders. In fact, the first Chamorro to be killed by the Spaniards was actually killed by a choir member of the Jesuits, the Kapampangan boy Andres de la Cruz. Life for the Jesuit missionaries in the Marianas had just turned extremely dangerous. (Concluded next week)

CONCLUSION (Published August 30, 2010) Copied from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/tantingco-macabebe-heaven-conclusion THE road to sainthood is long, winding and expensive, but fortunately, it's been simplified since 1983, on orders of Pope John Paul II. It starts as a people's initiative: they petition their local bishop to open an investigation of their candidate for canonization. Then the bishop submits the petition and initial findings to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which then assigns a Postulator to do further investigation. (The Vatican used to also assign a parallel Promoter of the Faith, or "the devil's advocate," but the practice stopped in 1983.) Next, the Congregation recommends to the Pope to proclaim the candidate "Venerable," or worthy of veneration. At this point prayer cards may be printed to encourage people to pray to him for miracles, which are required in the investigation. If the candidate is a martyr, that miracle requirement is waived, and the Pope can immediately proclaim him "Blessed." He will be assigned his own feast day, although it can be celebrated only in his diocese. It is only when he is proclaimed a "Saint" that the feast may be celebrated by the rest of the world. But to become a saint, another miracle is required (even for martyrs this time). In the case of Felipe Sonsong, I know that Macabebe parishioners have submitted their petition to the Archdiocese of San Fernando. I also know that Archbishop Aniceto will forward it to the Vatican when he visits Rome later this year.

Long ago, the whole process used to take decades and even centuries (Joan of Arc, who died in 1431, was beatified only in 1909 and canonized in 1920). After 1983, however, it speeded up a bit (Josemaria Escriva died in 1975, was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2002). For Sonsong, the speed of the process will depend on whether or not the Vatican will consider his death a martyrdom, because he survived his execution and died only six months later. This is how it happened: On July 23, 1684, the day the Revolt of the Chamorros started, Sonsong was attacked while doing carpentry work in Agana, Guam. The Chamorros slit his throat, with the clear intention of beheading him. According to Fr. Bustillo, one of Sonsong's Jesuit companions, "the weapon cut badly," so the Chamorros instead "gave him two wounds on the head and one in the socket of his left eye," which caused a piece of bone to come out. He was so covered with his own blood that when the Jesuits found him, they thought he had been killed. They gave him the last rites and heard his confession, and "the first words he uttered were the names of Jesus and Mary." The 73-year-old Kapampangan went on to live until January, but during that period Sonsong "united himself more and more with God and exercised all the virtues which were possible to him in the current circumstances. "Certain things stood out in the last days of his life," said Fr. Bustillo. First, Sonsong always stayed in a hidden spot in the chapel, hearing all the Masses said there. Second, he let himself be ordered around by everyone "for he already considered himself dead and living only for Christ Crucified." And third, when he wasn't being ordered, he stayed on his knees in humility and mortification. "He did well the ordinary things of every day," observed Fr. Bustillo. Sonsong was offered to stay in a comfortable room but instead built a hut "in the place which was most uncomfortable, because it was above the kitchen." This Kapampangan "was never found talking of food, nor complain of the lack of it." In the rare times that he ate, he would say, "Let us eat not for pleasure, but because God commands it, so as to be able to live, work and serve Him." Although old, crippled and weakened from his wounds, Sonsong continued his carpentry work. Sometimes he couldn't help speaking loudly because he had turned deaf and because he made sure the workers did not commit mistakes. "But," Fr. Bustillo noted, "Immediately afterward he asked them to pardon him for the love of God." "All the occasions and things which came to him-he took them as sent by the hand of God. He exercised himself in three degrees: first, in bearing with patience all that came to him; second, in

doing it promptly; and third, in receiving it with joy and gladness. He seemed in every respect an angel in a mortal body." Sonsong "seemed to be loving rather than working," observed Fr. Bustillo. Eventually, phlegm filled up his chest and took away all desire to eat. When they tried to give him medicine, he asked, "What for, if I must die?" and when food was brought to him, he said, "I have to die, why eat?" When told that holy obedience commanded him, he complied although it gave him great pain. On Friday, January 11, 1685, at 11 a.m., Sonsong suffered a seizure. The Jesuit priests gathered around his deathbed to administer the last rites, but Sonsong regained consciousness and prayed the rosary with them. At 1 p.m. the Jesuits left to take their usual siesta, because "it seemed to us that he was not going to die so soon. He was conscious and without anxiety," wrote Fr. Bustillo. At 2 p.m., Fr. Bustillo returned to check on him. "I found him out of his bed and kneeling on the floor with his arms on the bed and his head on top of them. Thinking that he was still alive, I spoke to him to get him back to bed, but he was already dead." They put him in a wooden coffin wearing his Jesuit donado habit as well as the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the scapular of St. Dominic, and the cord of St. Augustine. The highest Spanish civilian and military officers, including the Governor of the Marianas himself, carried his coffin "from the fort where he died to the church recently erected near the sea," and buried him there. With a little help from the Jesuits and Guam officials we should be able to locate Sonsong's gravesite, erect a landmark and probably even find his remains. While waiting for word from the Vatican, we Kapampangans should make an effort to know who Felipe Sonsong was, and what values and virtues we can learn from him. We have always revered heroes and poets and freedom-fighters on the pantheon of great Kapampangans. For a change, how about – a saint? (Sources: The works of Fr. John N. Schumacher, SJ, Dr. Luciano PR Santiago, and Augusto V. de Viana)

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