MANILA, Philippines — Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle or simply known as Chito, 60, has supported Caritas Manila and Radio Veritas’ Damay Kapanalig Marawi Telethon to help rebuild the lives of the families in Mindanao affected by the recent crisis in Marawi City.
“This is a shock to all of us whenever violence erupts. We actually do not know what to say or words cannot capture the shock, the grief, the sorrow and even the senselessness of something like this. We can only assure the people of Marawi that there are brothers and sisters who are grieving with them, who are sorrowful with them, who are hoping with them. But my appeal to everyone, not just to the people in Marawi, is that could we rediscover what we call in Filipino ‘pagpapakatao, pakikipagkapwa-tao,’” says Cardinal Tagle, who continues to host The Word Exposed, a Catholic TV program produced by the Jesuit Communications Foundation, which airs Sundays on ABS-CBN Sports and Action (at 5 a.m.), ABS-CBN News Channel (at 6 a.m.) and the following international Catholic networks: Telecare TV, Catholic TV, Shalom World and Salt and Light TV.
He continues: “Let us teach, especially the young generation, how to be human and how to be good neighbors because all of this violence would try to divide us and make us suspicious, prejudiced or biased against one another. We should resist that. If that continues, terrorism has succeeded.
“We have to do a lot of work on the children, the neighborhood. I have some contacts with the Muslim community (in which) we support the common effort, especially in giving the children some sort of emotional, psychological healing or first aid so that prejudice, bias, vengeance would be tempered. We continue living as human beings to one another.”
Today, Tagle will receive an outstanding alumni award from his former alma mater, Parañaque City’s Saint Andrew’s School (SAS), which is celebrating its 100 years.
He vividly remembers being a student at St. Andrew’s School involved waking up very early, taking a public jeepney from Imus, Cavite where he grew up.
Cardinal Chito (center) as a Grade 3 student at St. Andrew’s School. Today, he will receive an outstanding alumni award from his former alma mater.
“Studying in St. Andrew’s School involved a whole package of learning how to discipline yourself to wake up, fix (your breakfast) and travel early morning and how to be focused on your study. It also taught me the realities of life that the daily workers have to face (his parents would travel from Imus to Manila),” reminisces Tagle, who is also a co-presenter on Kape’t Pandesal (a pun on the term coffee and salted bread), an early-morning inspirational program aired on ABS-CBN.
He is grateful to St. Andrew’s School for giving them a very solid foundation. For him, studying in SAS was a very moment for expansion of knowledge. “I love very much the sciences, from mathematics, algebra, geometry, to physics. I was very fascinated by the language courses (thanks to his teacher Estelita Fermin Pompa who passed away this year), English, Filipino and Spanish. Of course, religion classes which were very much integrated to the life of the parish. I remember very well the Student Catholic Action (SCA), which was introduced when we were in second year high school. I underwent a leadership formation of SCA and it had a lot of impact.”
Curiously, Tagle’s original plan is to be a doctor but his involvement in youth activities in the school’s parish and religious education in SAS, plus his involvement in the Parish of Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Imus, Cavite somehow contributed to the eventual decision to enter the seminary.
His visit to his hometown Imus has been very rare because of some of his work in the Vatican. He travels a lot and visits regions and countries. “I am a member of some commissions in the Vatican. I am the president of two international federations: Caritas International and Catholic Biblical Federation.”
Whenever he has spare time, he visits his parents’ house. There are some occasions where he is invited to go to weddings, anniversaries or fiestas and he attends to these events if his time permits him to go.
“How good it is to encounter simple and poor people who have taught us valuable lessons. They are great teachers. They have the wisdom that we, who have university degrees, probably don’t know of,” he remarks.
During the 39th Catholic Mass Media Awards, Cardinal Tagle calls for the communication of hope and trust. He said the words of a person are the products of what the heart wants.
As to his piece of advice to today’s youth, he said that he invites them to not waste opportunities that they have in life. “There are many opportunities whether provided by the schools or by their families or by their own talents and their gifts. They have to learn to develop their gifts and to make full use of the opportunities in their lives, not just for personal gain or interest but for the good of society, the good of the nation. The whole of society will not progress unless each one does his or her share.”
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