The Three Martyrs of Bakun/ 18 April 2014

A holy day in Bakun, Benguet. 

THE DAY BEFORE was the Holy Thursday, the night of the institution of the Holy Eucharist in the tradition and practice of Catholic Philippines. 

Starting on Holy Wednesday, I went to the bus stations in Cubao, Quezon City, to take a trip to the Cordilleras. 

The aim was to hit Baguio on Thursday the latest for that trip with a research assistant to Bakun, that one place in the hinterlands I have been able to only imagine.

Many years ago, I came across a book on the Bakun: Three Martyrs of the People.

It talked about the supreme sacrifice of three people--theirs a crucifixion no less, with Father Nilo Valerio beheaded, his head placed on a stake, and paraded around town before it was displayed in front of the town hall.

Aside from Father Nilo, a religious of the Divine Word congregation now probably forgotten by many younger SVD priests, brothers, and seminarians, we have two other church workers advocating the rights of the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed: Kristeta Hernandez and Soledad Salvador.

I took the road less traveled to Baguio on Holy Thursday by hiring a cab together with four other people, all unknown to me. The cab promptly went bonkers as soon as we hit the Tarlac Exchange exit.

The five of us--now friends--took another route by hiring a truck that brought us to Tarlac City, and waited for a bus to take us to Baguio City, the three of us; the two others took another bus to a town in La Union.

On Good Friday, with transportation in the Cordilleras a normal state of affairs, I took the van to Bakun, and in three hours, I was in this alter of sacrifice, an alter of struggle, an altar for the quest for freedom.

This was a sacred ground.

This will forever be a sacred ground.

18 April 2014, Good Friday

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