More than three hundred parishioners–lead by the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. and six members of the Clergy–from the Diocese of Novaliches flocked to the Quirino Grandstand at the early hours of February 18, 2017 to show their support to and oneness with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Laity (CBCP ECLA)’s Walk For Life.
The good number of participants, which also included the Seminarians of Novaliches (SEND), was through the coordinated effort of the Commission on Family and Life of Novaliches (FLC Nova), who initiated mobilization efforts in the Diocese of Novaliches; the Council of the Laity of Novaliches (CLaN), who provided support for the mobilization by tapping Parish Chairpersons; and the Social Communications and Media Ministry of the Diocese (SocComm Nova), who provided multi-platform assistance in the dissemination of information on Walk For Life.
United Against Death Penalty
To show its unity as a Diocese against the Death Penalty and the Extra Judicial Killings, FLC Nova Lay Coordinator Wayne Belizar planned that a motorcade would be most suitable so as to arrive “together” or as “one” to the venue. The assembly area was set to the St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders at 3:00AM of February 18.
Belizar said he was expecting a participant turnout of only 81 FLC Nova Members from the parishes. However, this changed and expectations grew higher as PPC Chairs notified to send their own delegates from the pairshes after the text blast sent by SocComm Nova on the motorcade details three days before the event.
With the increase of participants, however, came the real need to provide vehicles for those joining the event and the idea of using the Roman Catholic Bishop of Novaliches-Educational System (RCBN-ES) school bus came about. Due to its unavailability, the idea of using the bus was scrapped and parishes with its own vehicles were tapped through the suggestion of the Diocesan Administrative Office’s Assistant Kish Quintano.
Eventually, everything worked together as both vehicles from parishes and rented two buses, including private cars of attendees, were used to transport the delegation of Novaliches to the Walk For Life.
The presence of the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. that greeted the Novaliches delegation on its arrival on the grounds of the Quirino Grandstand an hour before dawn inspired not only the FLC Nova assigned Event Coordinator Ruby Ramores but the entire delegation.
United In Prayer
With the parade arrangement set by Sagguniang Laiko to be lead by the Bishops, the Novaliches delegation then joined the 15 other dioceses present in the praying of the rosary as they walked around the block of the Grandstand to the Finish Line by the stage.
Bishop Tobias joined Kalookan Bishop Pablo David, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo in leading the rosary and the parade. However, the parade was unexpectedly put to a halt after an hour of waiting to be able to get to the Finish Line due to the thousands who attended the event.
The attendees simply assembled again in the grounds of the Grandstand to listen to the talks of the Bishops, which included Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who arrived only after the prayer rally to give an inspirational talk that centered on hope, courage, and humility.
Aside from the Dioceses, mandated organizations, religious groups, and pro-life groups were present in the event such as the Couples for Christ and Buhay Party Lists. The Diocese of Novaliches’ Pastoral Outreach for the Welfare and Resources of Persons-With-Disabilities (NPOWRD) through its Lay Coordinator Josephine Barbine and the Restorative Justice Ministry through its Minister Rev. Fr. Luke Dobles were also present.
While members of the Clergy of Novaliches who accompanied their parishioners to Walk For Life were Rev. Fr. Antonio Dela Cruz and Rev. Fr. Hernando Batomalaque of the Our Father Parish, Rev. Fr. Joel Saballa of the Immaculate Conception Parish, and Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Dulong of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish.
Set on the month dedicated to the Pro-Life Movement, Walk For Life is a prayer rally meant to reinstill the sanctity of human life amidst the presently-recorded horrendous 7,669 extrajudicial killings borne from the Government’s War On Drugs and the impending return of the Death Penalty in the Philippines. (~Minnie Agdeppa)