Mt. 11:25-30 13 July 2017, Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City
A Homily by Br. Virgilio A. Ojoy, OP
I wrote a long article about Fr. Pedro Salgado, O.P. published in the Philippiniana Sacra last year. In deference to him whom I admire for his convictions, I showed it to him first in case he wanted me to revise something. He returned the draft to me with the comment: “Dear Fr. Ojie, I have gone over the manuscript you wrote about me. I think it is very good. Thank you very much. Warm regards.” I hope he will say the same thing about this homily. But he can keep the warm regards. I don’t want to feel it when I am alone in my room tonight.
I am so fortunate to have been able to live with Fr. Pedro V. Salgado O.P., or Ka Pete as his fellow revolutionaries would call him, or Supremo, as his confreres in the Dominican Order would endearingly address him, in the Community of Santo Domingo for quite a time. Here we witnessed several times how he would scoop our favorite ube jam made by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Baguio, using a spoon which has just been taken directly out from his mouth. At first, we reacted with raised eyebrows and silent howls. However, later on we realized that this great man was so used to being alone on a mission to some faraway place where coco jams and bagoong and achara bottles were only his for the scooping. Having realized that, we just lovingly and with full understanding reserved all the bottles in the refrigerator which he touched with his used spoon all for himself.
He usually started our conversations with, “Heto na ang pinakagwapong pari” which I appreciated very much when he said it to me, for obvious reasons. After all, I was certain that he always told the Truth. Until I heard him saying those words to Fr. Apa as well. Both of them must be smiling now in heaven and talking in the Visayan language. Eventually, those conversations would drift towards injustice and the plight of the poor. And on this topic, Fr. Salgado had a lot to say. He had written several books and articles about them. He had long and very close contacts with poor peasants, laborers and revolutionaries. Thus, the conversation could drag on and on for hours. For someone who has so many commitments, a few of those conversations is sufficient. Kaya, later on, dahil marami pang ibang dapat gawin, pag narinig ko na yung “Heto na ang pinakagwapong pari”, tumatakas na ako. Ok na buong araw ko.
Ka Pete did not only write on Social Justice, he spent his entire adult life doing it. He was a type of person who eats oppression and injustice for breakfast. Ano mang paguusap ang gagawin ninuman kasama sya ay laging nauuwi sa kalagayan ng mga taong nasasadlak sa kadustaan at pang-aapi at kung paano sila mapapalaya sa karukhaang ito. There is only one way to take away Ka Pete’s attention from his passionate commitment to the poor and that is to put on the dining table Elar’s lechon, spicy crabs and kapeng barako. For one fleeting moment, he would forget the hungry poor and focus on his own craving. But not for long. In a short while, he would be back to his main course – injustice and oppression. And he worked very hard to fight the system that perpetuated them. Sa kanyang pagbabalangkas at pag aanalisa sa kalagayan ng ating bansa, napagtanto nya na ang dahilan ng karukhaan sa Pilipinas ay ang malawak at mapang-aping kapangyarihan ng mayayamang bansa at ng kanilang mga kaalyansa dito sa ating bayan. Sa lawak ng kapangyarihang ito, para kay Ka Pete walang ibang paraan upang makamit ang kalayaan kundi ang armadong rebolusyon. At ipinakita nya sa kanyang mga sinulat na ang ideyang ito ay hindi taliwas sa mga turo ng ating simbahan. Kaya siya sumapi sa Malayang Samahan ng mga Magsasaka. Kaya mas pinili nyang gugulin ang mahabang bahagi ng kanyang buhay sa malalayong mga lugar kung saan maraming mga magsasakang nasasadlak sa kahirapan. At ang lahat ng mga biyayang natanggap nya sa kanyang trabaho bilang pari, sa mga isinulat nyang mga libro, at ang mga tulong ng kanyang mga kamag-anak na maykaya ay ibinuhos nya sa mga magsasaka: sa pagpapaaral sa kanila, sa pagbili ng mga binhing kanilang itatanim, at sa pagtulong sa kanila kapag sila’y nabibiktima ng bagyo at iba pang kalamidad. Sa pamamagitan ng mga gawaing ito, naisabuhay ni Ka Pete ang ibinilin ng ating Panginoon sa ebanghelyo: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Dahil sa kanya, maraming mga tao ang naiangat mula sa karukhaan. Hindi natin lubusang masusukat ang lawak ng kanyang mga nagawa ngunit hindi malayo sa katotohanan kung sasabihin natin na malaki ang kanyang naiambag sa pagkakaroon ng Land Reform sa ating bansa na siyang nagbigay ng lupa at kaunting kalayaan sa ating mga magsasaka. Kaya ang mga mahihirap ay kadalasang hindi nawawalan ng pananampalataya, katulad ng pagtitiwala ng isang bata sa kanyang Ama, sapagkat may mga taong katulad ni Ka Pete na nagpapakita at nagpapadama ng pagkalinga ng Diyos sa kanila. Naisiwalat sa kanya at naunawaan ni Ka Pete ang kagustuhan ni Hesus at ng Ama para sa mga dukha, at ito ay isiniwalat din ni Ka Pete sa mga magsasaka at mga manggagawa: Pag-ibig na naipadadama sa pagkahabag.
In his twilight years, Ka Pete exerted a great effort to be in contact with the peasants and laborers. The flame of his revolutionary lamp, although at times was but a flicker because of his age and health condition, had not been extinguished. He continued to visit the peasants and laborers to inspire them to dream on, to keep believing that the revolution would eventually happen. For his part, he kept on dreaming. One time, he recounted tongue in cheek, that he dreamed that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him: “Ka Pete, don’t die yet. The revolution is not yet completed.” From the perspective of our Christian faith, Ka Pete is truly not dead. God just gave him eternal rest in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in the gospel that those who take up his yoke and learn from him shall find rest for themselves. Ka Pete is not dead. In the minds, in the hearts, in the lives, in the homes of people whose life situation he uplifted, he shall dwell forever. And that is why, my dear brothers and sisters, as we bury the remains of our beloved Rev. Fr, Pedro V. Salgado, O.P., the words of a writer can light up the darkness of our grief: “Do not stand on my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”