The Life of A Martyr
A Very Common Name
"Calungsod" is a very native and descriptive Visayan family name. His family name is variously spelled in the different documents as "Calonsor," "Calongsor," "Calangsor," or "Calansor". His real family name must have been Calungsod . The variations of the spelling of Pedro's family name in the documents may have been due to the Spanish authors' inability to accurately hear a Filipino name.
Today, it is not easy to trace the place of origin of the "Calungsod" families. The name can be found in different parts of the Philippines. However, the "Calungsod" families are most numerious in the Visayan towns of Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinundayan and Hinunangan in southern Leyte, and in the Molo district of Iloilo City in Panay.
His baptismal record cannot be found. Most, if not all the baptismal records of the 17th century in the Visayas have been destroyed by fires, typhoons or termites.
The only source of information about him are found in the documents on the martyrdom of P. Diego Luis San Vitores, SJ.
In these documents we know for sure that Calungsod was Padre Diego's faithful assistant in the mission, a "catechist".
He was praised because "he merited the happiness of accompanying the Venerable Padre in his death" ("merecio la dicha de acompanar al Venerable Padre en su muerte").
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What did He Look Like?
We do not know how Pedro Calungsod looked like. However historical documents describe the Bisayan Indios as people with light brown skin, round faces, flat noses, black hair and eyes. Based on this we can imagine how Pedro Calungsod might have looked like.
Pedro Calungsod may only have been in his early teens (between 12 and 15 years old) when he went with Padre Diego to Guam in 1668. He was one of the young catechists who went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Ladrones Islands to evangelize the Chamorros. At that time, the Ladrones Islands were part of the Diocese of Cebu.
Life in the Ladrones was hard. Despite the hardships, the missionaries persevered, and the Mission was blessed with many conversions. The first mission residence and church were built in the town of Hagatña [Agadña; Agaña; Agana] in the island of Guam. Subsequently, the islands were renamed "Marianas" by the missionaries in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the then queen regent of Spain, Maria Ana, who was the benefactress of that Mission.
A man named Choco became envious of the prestige that the missionaries were gaining among the Chamorros. He started to spread rumors that the baptismal water of the missionaries was poisonous. Because some sickly Chamorro infants who had been baptized died, many believed Choco and eventually apostatized. Choco found an ally in the local medicine man, Macanjas, and the Urritaos, young native men who were given to some immoral practices. These, along with the apostates, began to persecute the missionaries, many of whom were killed.
Martyrdom came to Padre Diego and Pedro Calungsod on April 2, 1672 which was the Saturday before Passion Sunday of that year.
At around seven o'clock that morning, Padre Diego and Pedro Calungsod went to the village of Tomhon in Guam because they were told that a baby girl was just born in the village. They went to ask Matapang, the child's father, to bring the baby out for baptism. Matapang had been a Christian and a friend of the missionaries but had apostatized. He angrily refused to have his baby christened.
To give Matapang some time to cool down, Padre Diego and Pedro gathered the children and some adults of the village at the nearby shore and started chanting with them the truths of the Catholic Faith. They invited Matapang to join them, but the apostate shouted back that he was angry with God and was already fed up with the Christian teachings.
Determined to kill the missionaries, Matapang went out to ask for the help of another villager, named Hirao, who was not a Christian. At first, Hirao refused. He knew of the kindness of the missionaries towards the natives. But Matapang chided him for being a coward. Hirao changed his mind and decided to join Matapang.
While Matapang was away, Padre Diego and Pedro obtained to permission of Matapang's Christian mother and baptized the baby girl.
Matapang was enraged when he found out. He attacked the missionaries with spears. He first went after Pedro who presumably tried to defend the priest. Pedro was able to dodge the spears with remarkable dexterity. Witnesses said that Pedro had all the chances to escape because he was very agile, but he did not want to leave Padre Diego alone.
Those who personally knew Pedro believed that he would have defeated his aggressors and would have freed both himself and Padre Diego if only he had some weapon. But Padre Diego never allowed his companions to carry arms.
Finally, Pedro got hit by a spear in the chest and fell to the ground, Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a blow of a cutlass to the head. Padre Diego could not do anything except to raise a crucifix and give Pedro the final sacramental absolution. After that, the assassins killed Padre Diego.
Matapang took the crucifix of Padre Diego and crushed it with a stone while blaspheming God. Then, both assassins ripped the clothes off Pedro and Padre Diego. They dragged them to the shore, tied large stones to their feet. They brought their bodies out to sea on a proa and threw them into the deep. The remains of the martyrs were never to be found.
The faith that was planted in the Marianas in 1668 did not die with Padre Diego, Pedro Calungsod and the first missionaries. It grew, thanks to the blood of the martyrs and the perseverance of the succeeding missionaries.
Pedro Calungsod Bisaya, Prospects of a Teenage Filipino by Msgr. Ildebrando Jesus Alino Leyson
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Tomhon Bay, Guam where the martyrdom was supposed to have happened
What is a martyr?
"Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he/she is united by charity. He/she bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He/she endures death through an act of fortitude." - CCC n. 2473
Martyrs do not just die for the Catholic faith. They live the faith before they become martyrs. Blessed Pedro Calungsod was endowed with the Christian virtues needed by saints and martyrs to live and to die for Catholic faith:
by making God the center of his life and his constant reference point. Not only did Pedro firmly believe the truths of the faith taught by the Church, but he also studied them thoroughly. His knowledge so affected his life that he volunteered to go to the missions with Fr, Diego.
that was rooted in his strong faith in God and fully alive with the enthusiasm of his youth. The virtue of hope gave him the daring to leave home for the missions as a young man.
Charity gives absolute priority to God and neighbor. Because of this love, Blessed Pedro offered his young life as a gift for the salvation of as many as possible.
to the mission, particularly the preparation of children for baptism, his participation in the building of churches and chapels, and his being the faithful assistant of Fr. Diego in his missionary journeys.
which kept him firm and strong in the face of oppositions and aggressiveness. Once, when things were not going well, he had the chance to go back to the Philippines but he stayed put. He gave a proof of his courage to the very last moments of his life.
effectively putting into practice in his daily life what he proclaimed to believe in and tried to teach to others.
protected it against external and internal attacks, and practiced it in his thoughts, words and actions as a most precious diadem in his adolescent life. The licentious life of the Urritaos had succeeded in attracting and perverting several assistants of the missionaries, but did not dent the purity of Pedro.
Whenever he received an assignment from Fr Diego, he never let him down. People knew that when he said something, things were really so, and if he had made a promise he would not renege on his word.
and prayer life. His child-like but strong devotion brought him, to be united with the Lord. not only during the Mass and in other moments of formal prayer, but even in the midst of bustling activities. Pedro loved to pray, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament.