16 July 2011 – Dagupan City. An estimated 4,500 people from all walks of life joined the “Run for Life” organized by the Ministry of Social Action (MISA) and the Family and Life Apostolate (FLA) of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, led the runners in church’s defense, protection and promotion of life.
“Run for Your Life”
Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas with the clergy of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan celebrated mass before the actual run. In his homily, Archbishop Villegas recalled the July 16, 1990 earthquake. He said that when the earthquake struck Dagupan and several towns of Pangasinan, it was a “run for your life”. People were running for safety, running for their lives. “Some chose to leave Dagupan City; but many chose to stay to rebuild what was destroyed by the earthquake”, he further said. “We are commemorating today the heroism of Pangasinenses and the people of Dagupan!”
The 1990 Earthquake
On July 16, 1990, Monday, at 4:26 PM local time, the densely populated island of Luzon was struck by an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude at the Richter scale. About 90 buildings in Dagupan City were damaged, and about 20 collapsed. Some structures sustained damage because liquefaction caused buildings to sink as much as 1 meter (39 inches). The earthquake caused a decrease in the elevation of the city and several areas were flooded. There were 17 deaths recorded in Dagupan City in that earthquake.
21 years later: A New Earthquake
Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas said that a new earthquake is among us today, 21 years after the earthquake of 1990. “We are praying that there will be no more earthquakes. But there is another earthquake that is slowly destroying us, eating us up.” Archbishop Villegas called this new earthquake: moral degradation.
Speaking in front of the young who composed the majority of those who celebrated the mass, he said that when he was young the words “abortion”, “divorce”, “euthanasia”, “Same sex marriage” were not yet in his vocabulary. “These words have now become part of your vocabulary today. These are destroying you!”
“Boiling a Frog”
A frog when put in a boiling water will jump out of the container. He said that when you put a frog in a cold water, it will stay and swim leisurely. If the water is slowly heated up, the frog will not notice the change of temperature. It will not jump. It will stay until we will have a boiled frog! Archbishop Villegas likened the moral degradation that is killing our soul and society to the frog who did not notice the gradual boiling of water leading to its death. He challenged the youth not to be eaten up by these “bad words” in the society today but instead to stand up for life, defend life, promote life.
Participants from all walks of life
The more than 4,500 participants came from the different parishes and schools of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, students from the different colleges and universities in Dagupan City, non-government organizations as well as the members of the Couples for Christ. Governor Amado T. Espino, Governor of Pangasinan, former Speaker Jose de Venecia and Congresswoman Gina de Venecia and Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco and several government officials joined the advocacy for life.
The run has 1K, 3K, 5K and 10K distances. The finishers were given ID cards telling that they have completed the run. They also put their thumb marks in a huge “Run for Life” board.
The Catholic Church has always been teaching the value and dignity of human life. Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Evangelium Vitae: "Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is public affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death." (Evangelium Vitae no. 18, John Paul II)
The Church has the duty and the obligation to defend life from the many attempts to demean and even to destroy it, where a life is preferred over material and economic gains or over the quality of life of another: the sick over the healthy, the poor and the underprivileged over the wealthy and the powerful, the young over the old.
Abortion and Contraception
It has been noted that couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others. Tragically, our society is being bombarded by the mentality that views children as a burden and invites many to consider abortion as a "backup" to contraceptive failure. The Church warns that with the acceptance and use of contraception, so will come the acceptance and use of abortion. An end to abortion will not come from contraceptive campaigns but from a deeper understanding of human sexuality, and of human life, as sacred gifts deserving careful stewardship.
Mother Teresa’s quotation on life
Printed on the tarpaulin for the thumb marks of the run-finishers are the words of Blessed Mother Teresa: “Life is beautiful, admire it; life is costly, care for it; life is wealth, keep it; life is a promise, fulfill it; life is too precious, do not destroy it; life is life, fight for it”.
(Pictures courtesy of Fr. Manuel delos Santos, from his Facebook account)
Ms. Dionisia E. Embuido is at present a Grade 4 teacher at the East Central Elementary School (San Fabian))