Fr. Centina washed himself for another wake

The dreaded coronavirus pandemic has taken another notable person who is a pillar of contemporary Filhispanic poetry as well as a vanguard of rare Catholic poetry.

Fr. Gilbert Luis R. Centina III, O.S.A. (19 May 1947–1 May 2020), was a rarity. An award-winning friar-poet, he has authored several books of poetry as well as other writings in four languages: English, Spanish, Tagálog, and Hiligaynón. He entered the Augustinian Monastery in Intramuros and graduated cum laude in each of his four ecclesiastical degrees from the University of Santo Tomás (BA classical, Ph.B., STB, and STL). He later earned an MA in comparative literature at the University of the Philippines and briefly served as a missionary in Perú after his ordination where he taught literature as a professorial lecturer. He also served as a school chaplain for many years and as pastor of a parish church in Manhattan, New York.

Throughout all his priestly and administrative tasks, Fr. Centina still found time to edit a scholarly journal on Saint Augustine and write hundreds of newspaper columns, magazine articles, and verses in four languages. When he was still in Filipinas, he wrote maintained a column for the now-defunct Newsday under the pen name Jorge Seurat. He also delved on history. Many years ago, he maintained a column in People’s Tonight. I wrote him two reaction letters which he published in full (I was then in my early 20s). I am forever grateful for that.

His final years were spent in Spain, one of the hardest hit countries of the ongoing pandemic. He succumbed to COVID-19 on Labor Day. His death is a big blow to Filhispanic poetry which is suffering from a dearth of writers.

I am now sharing to you one of his poems, “Myself I wash for another wake”, which was included from his collection of poetry “Glass of Liquid Truths” (Bayanihan Books, 1979). This poem somehow eerily echoes his exaunt yesterday (Yesterday has died, today is | Dying; tomorrow will soon be dead) as well as a reflection on today’s global crisis (This world explodes with daily wakers).

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Que descanse en paz eterna, Padre Gilbert. Vaya con Dios.

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To the Hispanophobic Filipino historian

Just recently, Rappler published an opinion piece by historian Jorge Mojarro (also a Spanish language teacher at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila) regarding the Elcano And Magellan controversy. In the said article, Mojarro wrote:

Philippine schoolbooks of history seem to be written not to understand the past nor to stimulate critical thinking, but to feed the students with tones of blind patriotism. If young Filipinos were learning properly the history of their nation, they would have not gotten so angry on social media with the new Spanish cartoon entitled Elcano & Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, especially considering that nobody has seen it yet.

He was right on target. The culprit, indeed, is the current educational system that has already been structured to destroy the image of our country’s Spanish past to young students. At an early age, Filipinos have already been taught that we were invaded by Spain, that we were enslaved, that we were forced to become Christians, that the Spanish friars maligned us, that they have kept us ignorant, etc. etc. etc.

This is a form of brainwashing. Such allegations are not even substantiated by historical documents. But who exactly is to blame?

Our second guest blogger, Fr. Michell Joe “Jojo” Zerrudo (parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo) points out to the culprits: the Filipino pseudo-historians behind those schoolbooks that Mojarro was referring to. The following posts were taken from Fr. Jojo’s Facebook.

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Fr. Jojo may not be a historian. But he has what many Filipino historians today do not have: a piercing I.Q.

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Yes, Halloween is a Catholic event!

Did you know? Before Halloween became a creepy holiday for fans of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and other assorted ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, it was actually a Catholic event. According to Fr. Jojo Zerrudo, parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo, Halloween is one of the most important feast days of the Catholic Church (see video below).

Make no mistake, Halloween is simply a modern contraction of the archaic term “All Hallows’ Eve” which simply means All Saints’ Eve since the following day is All Saints Day (in the same manner that December 24 is the eve before Christmas Day). In fact, Halloween is part of a triduum, a religious observance which lasts for three days. Halloween actually is the first day of this triduum; the second day is All Saints’ Day on November 1, followed by All Souls Day on November 2.

I will not venture on tracing how Halloween, a holy Christian feast day, ended up as a ghoulish freak show lest this blogpost turns into an encyclopedic article. You may read all about that topic here. Rather, I’ll just share to you this short video interview of Fr. Jojo that was produced by the Diocese of Cubáo’s Media and Communications Ministry and uploaded on YouTube on 4 October 2016. Here, Fr. Jojo explains how Catholic Halloween really is, its connection to All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day, and how we can reclaim it.

“Let us conquer again —for Christianity— Halloween”, says Fr. Jojo, “because it was really meant to honor all the Saints”.

In another inteview prior to the production above, Fr. Jojo said that “dressing up children as zombies, devils, and the like for Halloween gives them the impression that evil spirits are fun and friendly.” So instead of decorating your homes and offices with jack-o’-lanterns, skulls, spiderwebs, and other freakish decors, and instead of dressing up like someone who had gone super crazy after losing millions in a horrid casino game, just contemplate on the lives of Saints. Venerate them, study their biographies, emulate their holiness, and offer prayers and Masses to our dearly departed loved ones. Because this triduum belongs to them, this triduum belongs to us, not to the minions of satan. It’s high time we reclaim Halloween for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Happy Halloween!