Thursday, December 01, 2005

Jose "Pepe" Manegdeg killed

November 29, 2005

Dear all,

I cry for justice as I read this email. Pepe is a co-worker or mine. We worked together for the Rural Missionaries in the Philippines under the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. The last time I met him was in the first quarter of 2004 before I left for the seminary here in the US. We had a conference then. It was a church peasant conference held in Baguio in one of nun's convents. Different congregations, priest, nuns and pastors where there. Bishop Carlito Cenzon, the Bishop of Baguio was there and shared with us his biblico-theological reflection. Pepe was incharge in doing all the legwork and invitations with the help of his friends.

Pepe is a light hearted person who finds joy in mingling with people. He was a typical church worker who always shares his joys, pains with us and shares also his jokes among us to make us laugh. I saw Pepe as an enthusiastic person who would always find time to listen to you. Being the national representative of the RMP in
regional meetings I was delighted to hear from him. So much experience and stories to listen to and learn. Such interaction with him was so important for me as he speaks with dedication and passion. His insights were of so much value for us. I had a high regard of him in the manner how he writes and how he organizes his thoughts.
Indeed we was a prolefic writer I knew among lay members in Luzon. He was adept in discussing important issues from a unique perspective, a perspective coming from an indigenous people as he was one. I remembered we had a lively discussion with him especially Ka Daning was with us who spoke on behalf of the peasants. He would have
piercing comments that already summed up ideas that we have put accross and discussed. In that meeting too, I remembered asking him to finally accept being elected as the RMP's regional coordinator, noting he was so popular among the nuns and priests. At first he begged off knowing how enormous was the responsiblity but
later when unanimously elected by all, had humbly accepted the task knowing he now has to travel from Ilocos, Isabela and the Cordilleras to oversee and implement church programs for the peasants.

During that night, that was after that hectic conference, had an occassion to talk to him on a wide array of issues. I clearly remembered we had to sit under the light of the moon that was around 11:00 in the evening in the convent's garden and share
our individual faith journeys, how our families make it amid our busy work serving the peasants in the rural areas, how we would understand church position on different issues, how to see theological issues at hand confronting us and the nature of the church we where in and would have endless discussion how to concientize church people. I remembered him follwing me up on the list of funding agencies as he had project proposals in line for peasant, livelihood projects that will sustain and empower them as well also the church people. He shared with me his own stories how hard it was to go around organizing church people with no money for transportation at all, solely depending support of friends around. Crisscrossing the mountains in the Cordillerras was no joke at all, that is only to talk to church people and encourange them to continue in their ministry among the poorest of the poor. No wonder he was well loved even by the St. Claire nuns. His spirit of service for others and selfless dedication had made him well respected. He spoke with authority. His authority comes from experience. Pepe was well adept in church organizing. How can he not be, when he was an ex-seminarian. He left the seminary to find God, probably God among the people. He followed the hard way, carrying that heavy cross, giving himself for others. He was in no doubt spiritually adept. He followed Jesus ministry among the poor. For me, his untimely death did not silence
him. His voice now echoes a million times in the hearts of the poor, the poor people, espeically the peasants longing for justice and freedom, for land. His death had only sparked the fire of justice. His death showed an ethic of selflessly dedication for others, an ethic Jesus had well demonstated. Pepe was a true church worker whose life significance is heavier a million times of all the Cordillera mountains combined.

As we grieve of his death, we remind ourselves of our responsibility to continue his works, follow his ethic of selfless dedication for others, of service among the poor, deprived and the oppressed. His death also reminds us we can never follow Christ unless we serve others. Pepe's life demonstrated how it is to be Christ like in service for the poor, deprived and the oppressed.

Let us feel Pepe's presence among the struggling people working and longing for justice and freedom. Among the poor peasants, poor worker in factories, among the middle class in cities and even among church workers which he belongs. His spirit is still with us today. He is among us now. In everyones hearts.

With ferment prayers and hope,

Arn Lou Mutia
San Francisco Theological Seminary
San Anselmo CA, 94960

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