The Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc. (BDF) is now a proud member of the Association of Foundations (AF), the Philippines’s first network of bon-government organizations (NGOs), with a primary mission to enable its member foundations to develop sustainable programs that serve their communities.
In an official communication dated 30 March 2017, the AF Board of Trustees noted that they are “convinced the Bahay ng Diyos Foundation is a reliable foundation” and that AF is proud to have it as a member. The formal acceptance and oath-taking as a regular member will take place on May 22-23, 2017, during the 45th General Assembly of the Association of Foundations at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City.
Prior to its AF membership, BDF has been certified thrice by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (2011, 2013, 2016), and also recognized twice by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in 2014 and 2016 for its financial assistance to the conservation of Filipino cultural properties, specifically heritage churches in various dioceses throughout the Philippines.
BDF envisions a “vibrant and dynamic Catholic Church in the Philippines, with parish communities enlivened in their liturgical, pastoral, and missionary activities, and who come together in their parish church that serves as the central place for their Catholic life as a community that mirrors the love and majesty of God.”
By Ricardo Saludo
Which was bigger — the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last November, or last week’s International Eucharistic Congress from January 24 to 31 in Cebu City?
(Photo source: 51st International Eucharistic Congress Special Coverage)
APEC certainly commanded far more attention from global leaders, business, and media than the IEC. And the conference of 21 heads of government across East Asia and the Pacific represented far more people and wealth than the billion-strong Catholics having varying interest in the Congress.
Now, which conference did more good for the Philippines and its place in the world?
Los Angeles Bishop Robert Barron, the Word On Fire preacher who is the most popular religious figure online after Pope Francis, extolled the Philippine Church as the most vibrant in Catholicism, with Filipinos also enlivening other congregations on the planet.
“In God’s often strange providence, He will take a particular church, a particular people, and use them to envigorate and evangelize the Catholic world — you’re playing that role now,” the prelate told Filipinos dominating the 14,000 delegates, plus the worldwide faithful following the IEC online.
Top that, APEC.
The greater of two messages
Moreover, which conference propounded messages and models for thinking and living most beneficial to our nation if adopted by Filipinos, especially our leaders — the geopolitical and economic initiatives and maneuvering in APEC or the exhortations and exemplars of Eucharistic life at the IEC?
Well, before answering, one might ask: What’s a Eucharistic life? Here are pointers from the Congress.
Last Thursday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle spoke of convocation, the coming together of believers and the poor and powerless so close to our Lord, dissolving divisions and uplifting one another (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78_pgAkJeaE).
By the same token a day earlier, Bishop Barron cited communion with God and Church, not self-centered individualism, as the Eucharistic way ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX78Of5YKVg ).
The bishop also said liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council half a century ago diminished a bit the meaning of the Mass as reliving Christ’s Passion and Death. Instead, the Last Supper was commemorated more prominently. Three magisterial Cardinals, Gaudencio Rosales of the Philippines, Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, and Péter Erdő of Hungary, made sure to underscore the Eucharist’s sacrificial core.
While most speakers warmed audiences with exhortations to communion and caring, Cardinal Rosales told the inconvenient truth: “You want the Eucharist? Then take up the Cross.” In his Mass homily last Tuesday, Manila’s Archbishop Emeritus said receiving Christ means following His redemptive act of offering Body and Blood on Calvary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUPpSAaBfaw ).
In his Monday testimonial, Cardinal Zen remembered Chinese martyrs braving prison, torture and death for the faith (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u3iS45FrCs ). And at the Thursday Mass, Cardinal Erdő, who led the Vatican office producing papers and proceedings in the Synods on the Family, related how Hungarian households carried crosses under godless communism.
When the state told men to renounce religion or lose their jobs, wives and children endured privation if only to look upon husbands and fathers with respect for keeping the faith (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OimeFYkAqN0 ). For over four decades till communism collapsed in Eastern Europe by 1990, Hungarian Catholics daily lived Christ’s sacrifice.
Thankfully, Filipinos don’t have to suffer such persecution. That doesn’t mean Eucharistic living is a picnic. Ponder these tales recounted or encountered in Cebu:
Living the Eucharist every day
Among the Kankanay community in La Union, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs), laymen who serve at Mass and to ailing or faraway believers unable to go to church, offer perhaps the most direct example of Eucharistic living.
As told by Fr. Luciano Ariel Felloni, an Italian-Argentinian like Pope Francis who served in La Union in some of his 21 years in the country, every Sunday the Kankanay EMHCs trudged down the mountain for five hours to get consecrated hosts from church, then climbed back another five hours to bring the Lord to their fellow parishioners.
With those tireless treks Christ and Church are real and present on the Kankanay hills.
Fr. Felloni also served in the garbage dump neighborhood of Payatas. When he wanted to set up the country’s first and maybe only parish-owned dialysis clinic, the EHMCs took turns doing construction work every week, not just toiling for free, but giving up wages on days off from their jobs to help build the clinic.
The Payatas ministers labored for life-saving treatment and the Bread of Life.
Eucharist people also walked the IEC. Jess, a lay missionary in Mindanao with a successful Cebu business, told of his descent into vice, arrogance and marital discord when he got rich. Then he met my fellow Times columnist Fr. James McTavish and asked the Irish plastic surgeon-turned-priest why the career change. The answer led Jess and his wife to join Fr. James’ lay preachers.
The Eucharist brings in Christ to change our hearts. Or as Bishop Barron put it, we become the Savior we eat.
Our last two tales of Eucharistic living come from Cardinal Tagle. As president of Caritas International, the Catholic charity agency, he visited a refugee camp in Greece for those fleeing the Middle East and North Africa. There he met a Filipino-Australian family among aid volunteers. They cut short their European tour to help.
The Cardinal also praised the unsung and often unseen volunteers and workers who arrived ahead of IEC delegates every morning and left hours after they had gone. These teams prepared lunch packs, cleaned the cavernous plenary hall, arranged seating for thousands, and provided security and medical services.
In both examples we see one often unmentioned quality of our Lord’s Real Presence in consecrated bread and wine: He silently and invisibly works in our souls, our lives, and our world, doing immense good seen only by those with faith.
Now who would we rather have more of in our country and our world, especially in the corridors of power and profit — the paragons of Eucharistic living, or the tough-talking, sweet-smiling, globe-girdling potentates hankering for our vote and our cash?
(This article was first published on Ricardo Saludo’s Manila Times column, February 2, 2016)
We would like to share with you the gratitude of the parish community of San Isidro Labrador in Barangay Aguinaldo, Laak, Compostela Valley (Diocese of Tagum), following the recent canonical establishment of their Quasi-Parish church last Saturday, October 17, 2015, as communicated to us by their Diocesan Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Tomas Avila, Jr.:
“On behalf of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, DD, SThD, Bishop of Tagum, and the priests, and faithful of this Diocese, especially the community of Aguinaldo, Laak, Compostela Valley Province, I thank the Asian Terminals Inc. and the Bahay ng Diyos Foundation for your financial support in the construction of the church edifice and a convent in Aguinaldo, Laak, Compostela Valley Province.
Last October 17, the Bishop together with a number from the Diocesan Curia held a consultation with the community of Aguinaldo in their readiness to become a quasi-parish. After hearing from the faithful, the Curia unanimously voted in the affirmative. After the consultation which lasted for an hour, the Bishop presided the Holy Eucharist where he decreed for the canonical erection of San Isidro Labrador Quasi-Parish. He likewise appointed Rev. Fr. Julius U Capongpongan as the First Administrator. After the Mass, there was a short ceremony of the unveiling of the Church’s marker at the main entrance of the Church.
In the past, it would take at least two weeks after consultation before the formal announcement of the canonical erection which is integrated at Mass. Considering, however, the tedious preparations, the costs, and the distance of Aguinaldo, His Excellency decided to hold all this event rolled into one.
With Fr Julius, we will be inviting our benefactors, especially the Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, in one of its important celebrations in the near future. We will notify you ahead as soon as we have the date. Again, thank you so much. May you continue your ministry with magnanimity.”
A Thanksgiving Mass was held November 28 at the new church, led by Tagum Bishop, Most Reverend Wildredo Manlapaz, D.D., and in the presence of Mrs. Noemi L. Saludo, President of Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc., and Mr. Andrew Hoad, Vice-President of Asian Terminals, Inc.
International Symposium on Seismic Retrofit of Unreinforced Masonry Heritage Churches in the Philippines held
Conservation experts, structural engineers and architects, art and cultural workers, academics, NGOs, and Church representatives gathered recently for the ‘International Symposium on the Seismic Retrofit of Unreinforced Masonry Heritage Churches of the Philippines‘ held January 13 and 14, 2016 at the Auditorium of the National Museum of the Philippines along Taft Avenue in Manila.
It was a well-attended conference, with resource speakers from Italy, Portugal, India, United Kingdom, Turkey, USA, and the Philippines. It was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Museum, the University of Santo Tomas Center for Conservation of Cultural Property, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines, and Bakas Pilipinas, a US-based historic preservation society.
Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc. was among the participants of the conference.
Lectures presented during the conference may be downloaded from the BAKAS PILIPINAS website.
Photos source: NCCA and Bakas Pilipinas
We were fortunate to visit again the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel in Clarin, Bohol last January 19, and were so overjoyed and grateful that their new parish church is rising! The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) donated an equivalent amount of P65 million for the new structure and the construction work has progressed in such a good pace that it hopes to be completed by September this year in time for their patronal fiesta.
Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc. will fund the Main Altar and Sanctuary of the new parish church, and we have discussed during our site visit the details of this project with their new parish priest, Rev. Fr. Gamaliel Gamas and their architect, Raymund Abarquez, UAP.
Proceeds from our ongoing fundraising projects, especially from those who have supported us by availing of our book, ‘ICONS: Windows to the Soul‘ by Gerard Sison, will go to our financial assistance to Clarin and Maribojoc. Please help us help them rebuild their parish churches. You may write to email@example.com or contact our Secretariat at Tel. No. (632) 531-1182 or 623-1089 to know more about us and how you can help the two parishes. Thank you and God bless you!
BUILDING FAITH: A Triple Celebration
“You shall be called ‘Trinidad’!”
This was how Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, D.D. honored Mrs. Noemi Lirag Saludo, Founder and President of Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc., at her birthday celebration last May 30 at The Manila Hotel.
Cardinal Tagle praised the valiant efforts of Saludo in church building, which he saw as a profound manifestation of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the Church. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which Cardinal Tagle led together with other bishops and priests from around the country, was for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. Providentially, it was also the 9th anniversary celebration of the Foundation.
Noemi Saludo, a much accomplished business leader (she was the first and so far, only woman President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry), church-builder and, recently, organic vegetable farmer, made the 9th anniversary of Bahay ng Diyos Foundation as the highlight of the evening’s celebration, saying it was the biggest turning point of her life.
“I had fame, power, and glamour in my career, but I turned away from it to follow a new mission,” she told her guests that night.
In 2006, a year after her stint in PCCI and grieving over the death of a loved one, Noemi found herself in deep prayer at Saint Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel, Pangasinan. There she felt a ‘calling’ from the Lord to serve Him and His Church, and looking around the church, she saw its dilapidated condition. She realized at that moment what the Lord was asking from her.
She helped fund the repair of the parish church and upon its completion, then Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, D.D. led the community in a Eucharistic Celebration to thank the Lord for their refurbished church. It was the beginning of a collaboration between Mrs. Saludo and Cardinal Rosales, who became the Chairman of the Foundation’s Advisory Council composed of some Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
By September of the same year, Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc., was formally created and registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization with a primary mission to help fund church building projects in various dioceses in the Philippines. Funding is sourced from generous individual and corporate donors. The Foundation is led by a Board of Trustees composed of lay persons who are distinguished in their respective careers and in their dedication to serve the Church.
Since 2006, the Foundation has helped over 60 parish communities, shrines, and mission areas, with assistance ranging from construction of a new parish church or restoration of heritage churches, to lighting, flooring, or roofing installations.
Mrs. Saludo announced during the celebration a new undertaking, and that is to help rebuild the parish church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Clarin, and the parish church of the Holy Cross in Maribojoc, both under the Diocese of Tagbilaran in Bohol. Both churches were heavily damaged by a strong earthquake that hit the province in October 2013.
To help raise funds for this endeavor, the Foundation launched a new book titled, ICONS: Windows to the Soul by Filipino visual artist Gerard Sison. The book is an inspiring narrative that will draw the reader to appreciate the masterful depiction of popular Saints through visual art, and annotated with the artist’s personal witnessing while doing each portrait.
Sison unveiled ‘ICONS’ during the event and displayed at the venue some of the paintings featured in the book, including those of Saint Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Saint John Paul II.
ICONS: Windows to the Soul will be made available at selected Fully Booked branches and in a few local Catholic stores. Each copy is available for P2,000 and proceeds from its sales will go to the church construction fund of Clarin and Maribojoc.
Several Church, civic, and business dignitaries graced the May 30 event: Cardinal Tagle, Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, D.D. of Lipa, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D. of Jaro, Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto, D.D. of San Fernando, Pampanga, Bishop Manolo A. Delos Santos, D.D. of Virac, and Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D. of Tandag, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and Vice Governor Mark Leviste, National Historical Commission Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, business leaders Jose Chung of MC Home Depot, Andrew Hoad of Asian Terminals Inc., and Henry Lim Bon Liong of Sterling Paper, among other VIPs in attendance.
Another project this year is the development of a parcel of land in Barangay San Benito in Lipa City, which will be a haven for those who wish to find solitude and retreat in the peace and quiet of nature. This will be called ‘Hardin ng Dalangin’ (Garden of Prayer) and will find at its center a new Shrine of the Divine Mercy.
The Foundation still needs much more generosity in time, talent, and treasure to see these projects through to completion. Those who wish to donate can issue a check payable to Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, Inc. or make a bank transfer to: Bahay ng Diyos Foundation Inc., Banco de Oro Savings Account No. 459 010 0455 / Swift Code: BNORPHMM.
For book orders, please call (02) 531-1182 or 623-1089. You may also write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ‘like’ us on Facebook: Bahay ng Diyos Foundation Inc. and ‘follow’ us on Twitter: BahayngDiyos.
The very first ‘Handog Kapilya’ project of Bahay ng Diyos Foundation is the construction of a new church for the community of San Miguel Mission Parish in Marahan, Marilog District in Davao City. Begun in 2012, in cooperation with the Missionaries of Jesus and the Archdiocese of Davao, the community saw how their humble, cottage-like chapel was replaced by a solid structure that showcases not only the beauty of the surrounding nature backdrop but more importantly their strong faith as a Catholic community that includes members of the Manobo tribe. His Excellency, Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, D.D. made his first pontifical mass during their patronal fiesta in September 2012, and since then, the local community has celebrated their monthly, and now weekly Eucharistic Celebration at the new church. We are grateful to God for this new ‘house of God’ in the upland community of Marahan. It is remarkable how the community practices sustainable agriculture in their organic farming in their own backyard, and how energy is regenerated from waste material and natural sources.