MANILA, Philippines – It was an emotional evening on Holy Thursday, March 29, after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of 12 migrants, refugees, and displaced peoples during the traditional Washing of the Feet at the Manila Cathedral.
The ritual is a symbol of Christ’s command to love and serve one another. (READ: Listen to stories of OFWs, refugees who left out of love, Tagle urges)
Among those whose feet were washed by Tagle was Marawi priest Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub, who was rescued from the terrorist Maute Group in September 2017 after 116 days in captivity. (READ: Marawi priest Chito Soganub says captivity a ‘test of faith’)
The priest started crying as Tagle began washing his feet. Tagle also put his forehead on Soganub’s forehead at the end of the ritual.
During the Mass, Tagle also washed the feet of Crisanto and Eva Demafelis, parents of Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) found dead in a freezer in Kuwait. (READ: ‘A national shame’: The death and homecoming of Joanna Demafelis)
Apart from Soganub and the Demafelis couple, the Manila archbishop washed the feet of these 9 other individuals:
- Mr and Mrs Irfan Masih and Shaziah Irfan, foreigners and both Catholics, who sought refuge in the Philippines country because of religious persecution in their homeland.
- Mr and Mrs Danilo and Janet Pelayo, with their daughter Danica, a family relocated from their home in Paco, Manila to Cabuyao, Laguna. They represent the thousands of families in poor communities who face the risk of losing their only known home and the challenge of starting over again.
- Isidro Indao and Kaylo Bontolan, both Lumad leaders and evacuees who fled their homelands because of the massive militarization and destruction by logging and mining companies
- Mr and Mrs Giovanni and Yolicres Badidles, both from the Philippine Navy. For a long time, they spent their lives separated from each other by their assignments, with Giovanni in northern Luzon and Yolicres as part of the Combat Force patrolling the West Palawan seas.
The chosen 12 were caught on video getting emotional as Tagle kneeled in front of them to wash and kiss their feet. Many of them were in tears.
In his homily, Tagle called for solidarity with OFWs and refugees who left their homes because of love.
“Sila ay kapatid. Sila ay kamanlalakbay. Sa kanilang paglisan, sana hindi sila mag-isa. Samahan sila sa paglalakbay,” he added. (They are our brothers and sisters. They are travelers like us. When they leave, may they not be alone. Join them in their journey.) – Rappler.com