Last August 5, 2022, all roads in the province of Catanduanes went to the capital town of Virac so to speak. Not only that dear readers. Even some highly religious personalities, relatives and siblings went to the Happy Island earlier or that day for a once- in -a lifetime visit.
The visit to the province is imperative, inevitable, and irresistible for two reasons, namely: (1) it was the 75th anniversary of His Excellency, The Most Reverend Bishop Manolo De Los Santos , and (2) the Prelate’s retirement from administrative religious function which will take effect once his successor is chosen and reports to work as duly approved by Rome.
This was made clear by Rev. Fr. Filbert Reyes, Diocese Media Affairs Spokesman in an interview on- the-air program at Radyo Peryodiko by host tandem SM Ferdz Brizo and this humble representation, Mr. Sabawzki.
Rev. Fr. Reyes clarified that the prelate has to tender his resignation letter to the higher authorities in the Vatican, probably through the Papal Nuncio assigned in the Philippines. Or words to that effect.
After the 3:30 p.m. Eucharistic Mass Celebration held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the entourage led by the diamond celebrant proceeded to the Catanduanes Convention Center at the Provincial Capitol Compound.
After the master of ceremonies acknowledged the guests and visitors, Most Rev. Joel Z. Baylon, D.D. Bishop of Legazpi led the Grace before Meals Prayer , followed by live music performances, birthday greetings/ messages.
On the program proper, opening prayer was led by Most. Rev. Jose R. Rojas, Bishop of Libmanan. Rev. Fr. Paul I. Isorena, Acting Vicar General/ Vicar for Clergy delivered the welcome remarks.
Birthday greetings/ messages were delivered by Gov. Joseph C. Cua, Cong. Rep. Eulogio R. Rodriguez, Catanduanes Lone District; TGP Partylist Rep. Jose J. Teves Jr.; Mrs. Concepción A. Co, Friends of Ina Representative; and Dr. Joel S. Jordan, Representative, Council of the Laity.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) started the ball rolling with PBM Edwin T. Tanael’s Resolution “EXPRESSING THEIR BEST WISHES AND HIGH RESPECT TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE MOST REVEREND MANOLO DE LOS SANTOS, D.D. BISHOP OF VIRAC.” Similarly, Vice Mayor Dr. Arlynn H. Arcilla, presiding officer the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac , Catalogue had their own resolution vis-a-vis tribute and greeting addressed to the prelate who was listening while sitting on his chair.
Glowing greetings/messages showing utmost affections and high respect were delivered by representative of various religious groups such as the Neo Catechumenal Communities, Missionary Families of Christ , NEP Basic Faith Communities, Youth, Federated Centro Catholic and Couples for Christ.
Collectively, the Knights of Columbus, Immaculate Conception Council and representatives from other Councils who attended the “Diamond Celebration”of Bishop De Los Santos were: SK Atty. Greg Sarmiento Jr., (DD, V-O5; SK Noel Torreña (DD, V-04); SK Grand Knight Arthur Tabirara; SK Deputy Grand Knight Elpidio R. Tuboro; FDD JoJo Sorra; SK PGK Jerry Beo; SK Arman Leo Gapaz; SK Kim Chiong;
SK Ronito; SK Mark Anthony Tablizo; SK DD Edgar Tatel (Baras); SK Mayor Leo Z. Mendoza and yours truly, SK FDD Salvador V. Isorena. As well as lay minister Jose Ferdie Abrasaldo.
One of the highlights of the Diocesan Event were the presentation and short messages of the family of Bishop De Los Santos, Association of Virac Seminarians, Virac Association of Consecrated Persons and clergy of the Diocese of Virac. Also significant were the cake candle blowing and message and toast of Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria-Tirona, OCD. D.D. Archbishop of Caceres.
Finally, the message of the celebrant Bishop Mamo to the clergy as endearment was heard by all present. After the Word of Thanks delivered by Rev. Fr. Eric John T. Rojas, Acting Chancellor/ Oeconomud, Salve Regina and Final Blessing was done. By any indication and/ or measure, the 75th bday celebration and retirement of Bishop Manolo De Los Santos was a resounding the. It was indeed a Diocesan Event witnessed and participated in by all CV Christians including CatSU SUC III President Dr. Alain T. Azanza who was accompanied by Virac Councilor Don Robert Maullon along with his US-based brother priest scheduled to proceed to Manila by plane the following day.