De Lima files bill declaring San Roque Cathedral-Parish as national landmark and shrine for history, freedom and independence


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure declaring the San Roque Cathedral-Parish in Caloocan City a national historical site for history, freedom, and independence as it bore witness to centuries-worth of Filipino’s triumphs and struggles.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 2301, De Lima maintained that the parish did not only witness the pains, struggles and the successes and victories of Filipinos but it also housed them in their time of need.

“Its grounds are where the hopes and dreams of Filipinos have been implanted, and from its halls their prayers have been heard,” she said.

“For hundreds of years these stories have reverberated within its sacred chambers – tales of heroism, countless other stories shared between parishioners. It heard the cries of heroes for freedom, and the giggles of infants as holy waters trickle down their foreheads,” she added.

For one, in particular, De Lima said San Roque Cathedral-Parish “was a living witness to the bravery and heroism of the many Katipuneros in Balintawak who laid their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we relish today.”

“When the Filipinos knew that the time has come for an uprising, when they realized that enough is enough and they could no longer tolerate and endure the tyranny of the Spaniards within whose iron fist they have been crushed, the thirst for freedom spread like wildfire,” she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol further said that the parish also served as one of General Antonio Luna’s staging camps in 1899 where he led the fight against American soldiers during the Filipino-American war.

“As the blood of our heroes drenched the earth, the Parish stood there still listening to the prayers of the faithful,” she said.

“Amidst the Filipino-American war, the American soldiers were able to overrun Gen. Luna and his party, which caused the Parish to be partially destroyed. Eventually, the same grounds were utilized as a temporary hospital for the injured members of the invading force,” she added.

Built with the blood and sweat of residents within the area under the direction of Fray Manuel Vaquero, an assistant priest from the Parish of Tondo, it is a testament to the richness of the history of the area.

In filing the bill, De Lima stressed that history “is a beautifully weaved encapsulation of all that was,” saying that “for whatever piece of land on which we erect our dreams and hopes for this nation, thousands of other stories have already been experienced and lived through those who came before.”

“This is the very reason why we protect these treasures – not only because of their historical importance, but because many of them are the only existing witnesses to the struggles and triumphs of our forefathers who fought for and died for the many blessings we cherish today,” she said. (30)

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