On Ash Wednesday, bishop blesses land for Malabon’s poor

Paterno Esmaquel II
On Ash Wednesday, bishop blesses land for Malabon’s poor
'Hindi tama na ang tao'y mabuhay na busabos na parang hayop,' says Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David as he blesses a relocation site for 40 urban poor families in Malabon

MANILA, Philippines – Tears welled up in the eyes of Jose Eden Arroyo, a community leader, as he spoke of the joy of having a new relocation site for at least 40 families, including his, in Barangay Santulan, Malabon. 

Arroyo had been an informal settler in Malabon for the past 40 years. 

He is president of the group used to be known as Samahan ng mga Magkakapitbahay sa Dumpsite Catmon. With a new relocation site, the group has now been renamed San Miguel Ville – “para medyo umangat naman (to lift us up a bit),” he said.

Arroyo and other San Miguel Ville residents brimmed with hope on Ash Wednesday, February 14, as Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David blessed the site where their homes will rise.

'EXPRESSION OF CHARITY.' Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David says this relocation site for 40 urban poor families in Malabon is a 'concrete expression of charity' by donors whom he kept anonymous. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

“Sobra akong natutuwa,” Arroyo said. “Kaya sabi ko nga sa mga member namin, magtiwala lang kayo sa Panginoon at huwag kayong gumawa ng masama.” (I am so happy. As I told our members, just trust the Lord and do not do evil.)

Before the blessing, David also led the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day penitential season of Lent.  

BISHOP'S FLOCK. Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David delivers a homily before families who will benefit from the new relocation site in Barangay Santulan, Malabon, on February 14, 2018. Photo by Roy Lagarde/Rappler

‘Concrete expression of charity’

In his Ash Wednesday homily, David pushed for decent lives for the poor, as he said God weeps at their desperate conditions.

“Hindi tama ang ganyan sa lipunan. Tama lang na tayo’y magtulung-tulong. Hindi tama na ang tao’y mabuhay na busabos na parang hayop,” David said. (That is not right in society. It’s just proper that we help each other. It’s not right for people to live as slaves, like animals.)

He said the relocation site, which came from anonymous donors, is a “concrete expression of charity,” as Lent begins. 

ASH WEDNESDAY. Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David marks foreheads with ashes during the Ash Wednesday Mass on February 14, 2018, in a relocation site in Malabon. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Taking his cue from Pope Francis, David explained that the Catholic Church needs an “outward direction.” (READ: Caloocan Bishop Pablo David: Shepherd of his slaughtered sheep

“Kasi kung ang ating pag-aayuno ay ritwal lamang, parang inuulit din natin ‘yung sinasabi ng Panginoon na tinutuligsa niya na klase ng relihiyon na walang kinalaman sa kongkretong buhay ng tao,” the bishop said.

(Because if our fasting remains only a ritual, it’s like we’re repeating the kind of religion that the Lord opposes, one that has nothing to do with the concrete lives of people.) – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.