A few days before last Friday, I saw this announcement on my Facebook timeline:
I haven’t been joining protest marches since my forgetful days as a young student activist. Truth to tell, I no longer believe in the power of mass protests, especially in our times when the powers-that-be are at their strongest. Anyway, I had half a mind attending the nationwide pealing of all church bells although our parish church is just a safe walking distance from our apartment. I thought of maybe just listen to the pealing of the bells from our balcony and utter a short prayer to help combat government abuse of the pork barrel.
Friday arrived and it was dark and drizzling, all the more reason to completely cancel my plans of witnessing the pealing of the bells. But for some inexplicable reason, something stirred me from my laziness to attend. So I took up my camera and told Yeyette that I had to cover the event, maybe take a short video of it then go home immediately.
Upon arrival at the church, the drizzle became all the more incessant. I looked up towards the bell tower, but saw nobody up there. I looked around for any sort of activity pertaining to the ringing of bells against government corruption.
I went inside the church and saw only carpenters and stone masons (our church is currently under renovation). Perhaps there are people already in the campanario? I decided to have a look and see, introduce myself as a local blogger and one of Mayor Baby‘s writers (more on this in a future blogpost), and ask permission if I could record what they were about to do.
I’ve climbed up our bell tower numerous times already. It wasn’t easy this time because of a lot of construction materials being hoarded in there at the moment. Upon reaching the top of the bell tower, I was dismayed to find out that nobody was there. And it was less than five minutes till 1:00 PM.
Probably nobody in the parish office heard about this call for holy solidarity against a secular evil that is currently besetting the country. Or perhaps they already knew but they didn’t care at all? Really, I dunno.
I looked down towards the parish office. It was closed, and nobody seemed to come out towards the bell tower to ring its old Sunico bell. I harkened in the cold air, straining hard to listen if other nearby parishes were already ringing their respective bells — nothing but vehicular traffic noise. There was no more time to go down to the parish office and inquire. Using my initiative, I had no other recourse but to ring the bell myself.
It was my first time to ring a church bell, so pardon me if I was tolling it lightly. Besides, I was a bit nervous that the people overseeing the parish office might come out and climb angrily towards me. But then I already thought of a justifiable excuse that what I was doing was all over the news, and that they should update themselves once in a while. Surprisingly still, nobody went up to check. It’s either I was really tolling it lightly and they didn’t hear it, or maybe they did but they never cared at all.
I just tolled it for a few minutes, especially since it wasn’t safe for one’s ears to ring a church bell at a very close distance (stupid me, I should have pulled the rope connected to the bell which is right below the campanario).
Did the tolling of church bells against the pork barrel made any difference? Since I myself have already believed in the ineffectiveness of street protests against government iniquities, what difference does the harmless pealing of bells make? Not much. But I think the Church in this country needed to have a voice to speak out against the pork barrel scam. Just last August, news broke out that retired Monsignor Josefino S. Ramírez was renting a posh property owned by controversial Janet Lim de Nápoles for a whopping ₱280,000 a month, making everyone think where does he get all that cash. And even before that, there were already reports that some priests were in the payroll of Nápoles via her dubious company.
The CBCP commented on the issue, even releasing a strongly worded statement last September 5 against pork barrel misuse. But everybody, most particularly the very meek anti-Catholic kiddos in social media, were too busy condemning the priests in particular and (quite laughably) the Church in general. They were, indeed, having a field day.
The tolling of the bells, at least to my mind, was supposed to be another Church statement against thievery in the government. Last Friday’s church protest was more palpable. And if I may add: just in case those priests connected to Nápoles did err, it was just them, not the Church as a whole.
I just hope that if ever there will be another call for unity like this, there would really be a show of unity. Not to mention coordination. I’m trying hard to remember the last time that all the church bells in the entire archipelago were tolled; I couldn’t remember any event.
On another note, ringing those bells myself made it all the more enjoyable as I already have a personal connection to the San Pedro Apóstol Church because that is where I was wed during last month’s Friday the 13th…
Oh shucks… the WEDDING!!! I haven’t even written anything about it yet here on this blog!
OK, up next: OUR FILIPINIANA WEDDING! Stay tuned, folks!