UP SOLAIR or the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations faithfully observes through the years as it celebrates its 58th Anniversary (1954-2012). To date, for the past years the Diocese of Greater Manila, IFI with its clergy and congregation under the Diocesan Bishop, the grandson of Don Belong, The Right Reverend Gregorio de los Reyes, together with the UP SOLAIR Faculty and staff used to celebrate Holy Mass in the auditorium as opening of the whole day event/celebration. There was a time during Dean Javier of UP, a procession of the Birhen Balintawak was done in the university campus in time of SOLAIR’s anniversary, as told by Mr. Leo Albano. But due to the university policy to be more open and inclusive to other sects/churches/denominations and religions or other faiths, Masses are no longer allowed in relation to colleges’ anniversaries.
Today’s celebration was formally open through a para-liturgy officiated by the two Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priests from the Diocese of Greater Manila, they are Reverend Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas, the Rector of the UP Parish of the Holy Cross, and Reverend Tony Tayco, Priest-in-Charge at IFI, Tondo. The para-liturgy started at nine in the morning inside the auditorium and was attended by the UP SOLAIR Faculty members, staff and students led by Acting Dean, Dr. Ronahlee A. Asuncion, the current College Secretary. Also present were guests and representatives from NAFLU (National Federation of Labor Unions); Peace for Life Coordinator ( former member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Executive Committee, and re-elected WCC Central Committee Member) Ms. Carmencita Karagdag; IPREA (Institute of Philippine Real Estate Appraisers) led by Mr. Meneleo Albano and UP Parish of the Holy Cross, IFI Parish Council Member, Asst. Prof. Jun Sabug of Ateneo University.
Before the para-liturgy began, Mr. Meneleo Albano gave a brief orientation of the morning activity citing the purpose and its background. Mr. Albano with UP SOLAIR staff in coordination with Reverend Tony Tayco are the persons behind the organization of the morning event. Kuya Leo, as he is fondly called is the responsible person of the continuity of the morning event in close coordination with UP SOLAIR.
The para-liturgy readings were the Ang Tagubilin ni Dr. Jose Rizal, read by Fr. Tayco and Ang Sampung Utos ni Mabini read by Ms. Carmencita Karagdag. After the readings, Ang Bayan Ko was meaningfully sung led by NAFLU representative where everybody joined the singing. Towards the middle of the song, the priests invited everybody to follow them, walking slowly while singing in procession to the bust of Don Belong located in front of the building. After singing Ang Bayan Ko, a fiery poem on the Working Class was delivered by Ka Martin of NAFLU which brought tears to some. It was followed by the reading of the Kartilya ng Katipunan by Ipe Soco of SELDA/KARAPATAN and the floral offering by the UP SOLAIR staff. The blessing and sending off was done by the priests, followed by the singing of Kalayaan, Pilipinas to the tune of Philippines My Philippines, then the acknowledgement for those present. A fellowship at the social hall concluded the opening program with snack served by the staff.
The afternoon activity was lecture series starting at four in the afternoon: “Consciousness and the Pursuit of Alternatives” by Prof. Melisa R. Serrano and Ms. Edlira Xhafa; “Theorizing Class and Non-Class in the Philippines” by Dr. Virginia A Teodosio; “FES Forum on Green Shift in a Brown Philippine Economy” by Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo; and “Identifying and Defining the Working Class” by Dean Jonathan P. Sale.
Looking back, the working class, ang mga manggawa were instrumental in the proclamation of an independent Filipino Catholic church, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). It was during the National Gathering of the Union Obrera Democratica (UOD), the first Filipino Labor Union at Bellas Artes in Tondo on August 3, 1092 that UOD with its eleven member organizations formally declared the birth of a church which would be free from the cluthches of any foriegn domination; a movement that would served as a uniting symbol of the working class, the peasants, the patriots, the Filipino clergy and those Filipino loving people of their country. That it was after a nationwide strike in August 2, 1902, the first nationally coordinated strike by the workers and Filipino people demanding for salary increase of the labor sector, IFI came to exist. UOD was led by Isabelo de los Reyes, Sr.
But on the 4th of August, Don Belong was captured and detained. The colonial American government represented by General William Howad Taft taught that the capture of the labor leader would end the workers’ struggles. However, it did not stop the Filpino workers’ struggles under the American colonization but instead the August 2 nationwide strike resulted to more strikes in various establishments and agencies: printing press, stevedoring, tobacco industries, among others. Petitions for the release of Don Belong were pouring in that after a month, General Taft pardoned and released Don Belong. The rest is history of the unending struggles of not only Filipino workers but all the workers of the world who continue to stand firm against the colonial powers especially that of the United States of America or USA.
To UP SOLAIR, congratulations to your unwavering commitment recognising the working class and honoring a Great Filipino Leader and the Father of Labor Unionism, Isabelo de los Reyes, Sr., Don Belong, the very person closest to the hearts of IFI members. You did a great job, continually reminding and putting a challenge to the IFI membership, who many of us, sad to say, seem to forget the role of Don Belong, his life and works in relation to the very being of IFI, its existence and purpose not only for its members but to the Filipino people as a whole.
Yes, we take pride of being a nationalist church, pro-poor and pro-labor, that whenever, wherever we go, we boldly announce: Pro Deo et Patria, para sa Diyos at bayan. May the liberating God will continue to guide and to bless the IFI as it will be celebrating its 110 Proclamation Anniversary comes August 2-3, 2012.
Being part of this morning activity, July 7, 2012, I am more challenged. Thank you, UP SOLAIR.