SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/ 17 November)– The statue of newly-canonized Saint Pedro Calungsod arrived here Friday to kick-off the Mindanao leg of “Duaw Nasud,” the Filipino saint’s thanksgiving sojourn around the country after his canonization last month in Vatican.
Excited devotees of the saint flocked to the Lipata Ferry terminal here to wait for his image despite the warm and sunny blue skies, which starkly contrasted the rainy and cloudy forecast for the day.
The image of Calungsod, the second Filipino saint, arrived an hour-and-a half late on board the ferryboat M/V Maria Felisa from Southern Leyte.
Monsignor Tirso Alcala said “Duaw Nasud” is the Filipino saint’s thanksgiving sojourn around the country after his canonization on October 21 at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI.
In his homily then, Pope Benedict praised Calungsod for courageously facing death during his mission in the Marianas Island in the 1600s.
“May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!” the pope said in an article posted at the blogsite of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
Catholic devotees from the different churches here arrived at the port as early as 8 a.m. to welcome the saint’s image, which was brought here for the first time in 1996, then as a “blessed.”
“We’re very, very excited. Can you just imagine that in a population of 90 million Filipinos, we only have two saints,” businessman-philantrophist Alfredo Bonpin Jr. said.
A group of “manghihilot” or reflexologists of the Saint Pedro Calungsod Reflexology Center, based at the city’s Luneta Park, came in droves to welcome the saint’s statue.
Dr. Roselou C. Montalbo, also a Marian devotee, said she has become a Calungsod devotee after receiving several “spiritual miracles” from him. She considers Calungsod as a great example for the youth of today.
“His example can give inspiration to the youth especially now. These are dangerous times. Mahirap ang buhay ngayon (Life is difficult nowadays). I always pray for the conversion of the youth,” she added.
Senior Police Officer 4 Roberto Angob said at least 40 police personnel from various stations, together with Maritime and Coast Guard personnel, were deployed at the ferry terminal. Others were deployed at the city proper.
Part of San Nicolas Street where the cathedral is located and where Calungsod’s image stayed for two days and a night was closed to traffic.
While the ferry carrying Calungsod’s image was still several hundred meters from the port, the festive mood started. Two bands, each positioned at the opposite end of the port, played festival beats amidst children waving flaglets and devotees waving their hankies.
Bishop Antonieto Cabahog of the Diocese of Surigao welcomed the Filipino saint’s statue mounted at the back of a black Toyota Hilux pick-up. He climbed behind it to pay his respects.
As the statue landed at the terminal, the throng of devotees ran to reach out towards the image, in the hope of touching it, wiping their handkerchiefs and hand towels or giving it a kiss.
A caravan was held from the port going towards the city proper, passing through barangays Rizal and Luna before proceeding to the Surigao City cathedral.
Monsignor Alcala said a mass was offered Saturday morning to Calungsod in Placer, Surigao del Norte before the image was brought to Butuan City.
The caravan will be met in Kitcharao town, Agusan del Norte, or an hour-and-a-half away from Butuan City, he said.
The San Pedro Calungsod blogsite listed the schedule of the Mindanao leg starting Nov. 16 in Surigao City and will proceed to Butuan on Nov. 17. From Butuan, it will proceed to Cagayan de Oro on Nov. 18 then to Iligan, Pagadian and Ozamis, and Nov. 20 in Dipolog.
Dipolog will be the last of the Mindanao leg before it will proceed to Dumaguete on Nov. 21, then to Bacolod, Jaro, San Carlos, Tagbilaran, Talibon and Cebu, the final destination.
The “Duaw Nasud” trip will culminate with a “National Thanksgiving Mass” on Nov. 30, also in Cebu City. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)