Tomorrow will be the canonization of the Blessed Pedro Calungsod, 12 years after he was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church on 5 March 2000. Filipino Catholics especially the devouts are preparing for the canonization like pilgrimage in his hometown in Ginatilan in southwestern part of Cebu; in Cantabaco, Toledo in west central of Cebu; and those who have enough money for airplane fare, in Vatican City.
Pedro Calungsod will be the second Filipino person to be canonized as saint by the Roman Catholic Church as 25 years ago, a young Filipino also in the person of Lorenzo Ruiz, became a saint because of the same reason on why Pedro Calungsod should be a saint, the martyrdom while working to spread the words of the Roman Catholic Church outside the Philippine territory.
Pedro Calungsod was born during the first hundred years of Spanish colonization of the Philippine archipelago when the transformation into what the Filipino society as a largely Catholic society was ongoing in approximately in 1654 in according to most accounts, he was born in Ginatilan in the southwestern part of the island of Cebu, the cradle of the Filipino Catholicism. The details of his life before his missionary work and martyrdom are sparse. It is probable that he received Jesuit education like mastering the Spanish language and the Catechism.
At the age of 14 in the year of 1668, Pedro Calungsod together with the Spanish Jesuit priest, Diego Luís de San Vitores, traveled to the Ladrones Islands (known today as the Marianas Islands and Guam). Calungsod and San Vitores eventually landed in the island of Guam and converted the Chamorros into Roman Catholicism. Among their converts was the Chamorro chief in Guam, Kepuha.
The death of Kepuha in 1669 was the start of the conflict between the native Chamorros and the Jesuit missionaries led by San Vitores and Calungsod that contributed to their respective martyrdom, three years later as the Chamorro leaders protested the way Kepuha was buried at the church side instead in the traditional way.
The new rulers of Mata’pang and Hurao in 1672 eventually killed San Vitores and Calungsod after San Vitores had baptized Mata’pang’s daughter without the chief’s permission. Some say that Mata’pang had believed holy water used in baptism had caused the recent deaths of babies due to European diseases.
In my own analysis about the martyrdom story of Pedro Calungsod and Diego Luís de San Vitores, I could say that the people especially the Catholics (forgive me to say this) somewhat overrates their devotion to the persons that the historicity has been questioned because of last of written documents. I think that the Catholics should reflect on what they are devoting not just to Pedro Calungsod but also to all “saints” canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on whether they give them a freedom for expressing their ideas against their church or not. I think the Catholics should abandon the pagan-styled practice of venerating deceased persons and should start to think that no religion or even the “saints” could give them a personal freedom and prosperity but themselves.