The Archdiocese of Tuguegarao is my home diocese. As a diocese it was carved from the
diocese of Nueva Segovia in 1910 and elevated into an Archdiocese in September 1974. The
suffragan diocese are:
In 1998 their
1. Cagayan: 995,572
2. Isabela: 1,189,739
3. Batanes-Babuyanes: 23,998
4. Nueva Vizcaya: 446,084
Tuguegarao is the
capital town of Cagayan province. Cagayan Valley is irrigated by the Rio Grande
also called Cagayan River, the longest river in the archipelago. The southeastern part of Cagayan is known as the Itawis District. The district is
divided into three parts by the Rio Chico, a tributary of Rio Grande. On the
banks of the Chico River are situated the towns of Tuao, Rizal, Piat, and Santo
Nino or Faire where I saw the first light of day on May 1,
1917. Seven children came to bless the union of my parents. I
was the third child. My parents —Fortunato and Emiliana Lazo —were financially poor but rich in their love for
God and for their fellowmen.
My father studied
law and served as justice of the peace of our little town.
Every night my father led the family in reciting the holy rosary
and accompanied his family to Sunday Mass. My mother on the other
hand, enticed the pagan Igorots and Kalingas of the Cordillera Mountains to
barter their forest products like rattan and forest root crops. In
exchange, my mother give them laundry soap, matches, small
knives, and second-hand clothes. She regularly laundered the
dirty linens of the parish church. In summer she invited the Kalingas and Igorots to come to our house so that she could
teach them the catechism. My mother passed away while giving
birth to her seventh child in 1926. Aunt Lorenza, her sister,
took care of us in our growing years. The family roots can be
traced to the small town of San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, located
along the coast of the China Sea of the Cordilleras. They moved
to Cagayan due to political disturbances caused by the
Philippine Revolution at the end of the 19th century
and the beginning of the 20th
In 1934, the bishop of the
diocese of Tuguegarao was the Most Rev. Constance Jurgens, CICM, DD,
a Dutchman known for his holiness of life, his apostolic zeal and Christlike
charity to the poor. Having finished my elementary grades in Santo Nino Central
School in 1933, my father brought me to Tuguegarao to study at the Cagayan High
School because, in those days, Santo Nino did not have a high school much less a
Catholic secondary institution.
An arrangement was
made for me to stay in the dormitory of the boys living under the care of the
bishop; Fr. Oscar Deltor CICM was the prefect of discipline. At the end of the
school year Bishop Jurgens told me that he was going to send me to Christ The
King Mission Seminary in New Manila, Quezon City. That was in 1935. When I
graduated from the classical secondary in Christ the King Mission Seminary, I
went on to college. At the end of the academic year in March 1940, the Very Rev.
Herman Konding, SVD, Rector, informed me about the death of my father. I went
home but he was already buried when I reached Santo Nino.
In 1942, World War II
broke out. Being a Dutchman, Bishop Jurgens was rounded up with all the
foreigners who were enemies of Japan. Japanese Armed Forces sent them to the
concentration camp in Los Banos, Laguna. American Missionaries in Christ the
King Mission Seminary joined their fellowmen Americans either in the University
of Santo Tomas Concentration Camp in Manila or in Los Banos.
Christ the King
Mission Seminary was built along E. Rodriguez Avenue, a road through one of the
suburbs of Manila. The predictions, then, were that a division of the American
Liberation Forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur was going to
enter Manila along E. Rodriguez Avenue. Considering the imminent danger of a
bloody encounter between Japanese Armed forces defending Manila and the invading
American army, the novices were evacuated and sent to the Immaculate Conception
Theology Seminary in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Rev. Fr. Ignatz Hetteger, SVD, was
the novice master but a young priest, Rev. Fr. Alois Lehberger, SVD, was
going to lead the trip which was made hazardous by the Kempetai of the Japanese
During the war, Cagayan was one of those territories occupied by the Japanese Armed Forces. The
Japanese soldiers frequently raided the towns and barrios. Because of the
unpredictable raids, life was miserable and unstable. Food like rice and
domestic animals and vegetables were looted. They raped women and killed the
men-folk suspected of being guerrillas. One of the victims was my brother,
Manuel, who was a seminarian at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Vigan.
In one of the raids
the soldiers caught Manuel. They then towed him with some innocent people to
Faire, Dungao Ferry twelve kilometers away. At the ferry, they burned houses and
while one of big houses was on fire, the cruel Japanese shot Manuel to death.
When their victim was dying, his torturers threw him into one of the burning
houses. After the burning was over, those barbarians collected his ashes and
hurled them into the flowing waters of the Rio Grande.
In Vigan Theology
Seminary —the novices of the Divine Word Missionaries made their perpetual
Vvows before Rev. Fr. Herman Konding, SVD, the rector. Although I was accepted
in the balloting for the perpetual vows, I decided not to make them. My
membership of the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries (Societas Verbo Divini)
had ended. This was in March 1945.
The decision to
leave the Society of the Divine Word necessitated that I see Bishop Jurgens of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. I applied for the
diocese of Tuguegarao and the bishop
accepted me. My next move was to make arrangements with the Father Rector of the
Immaculate Conception Theology Seminary of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, so that I could
continue my theological studies. My remaining theological studies lasted for two
years. I finished my studies in March 1947. When Very Rev. Fr. Rector Herman Konding, SVD, announced the graduating class, I was included in the following
list of graduates:
Ferrer, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Aspiras, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Mabutas, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Miguel, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Pacis, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Mariano Saraos, archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
Ballesteros, diocese of Laoag
Paculan, diocese of Laoag
Salvador Lazo, diocese of Tuguegarao
Morales, diocese of Tuguegarao
Florentino Samus, docese of Tuguegarao
The ordaining prelate was the
Most Rev. Mariano Madriaga, DD., archbishop of Lingayen, Dagupan.
The ordination ceremony took place in St. Paul’s Cathedral of Vigan, Ilocos
Sur on March 22, 1947. When I was ordained, there were no member of my family
present. My only living sister, Teresa, could not attend it due to communication
problem. Cagayan was so destroyed and was not yet rehabilitated. The following
day the newly ordained priests said their Tridentine Latin Mass either in St.
Paul’s Cathedral or in the seminary chapel. Our relatives, benefactors and
friends filled the big St. Paul’s Cathedral both in the ordination and in the
Mass of thanksgiving said by the newly ordained priests.
In the week
following our ordination, we went to our home dioceses for the Canta
Missa [sung Mass] which were Masses of thanksgiving offered to God for the gift of
our priesthood, and to thank relatives, benefactors, and friends for helping us
in our studies. In the sermons the celebrants usually thanked their families,
relatives, benefactors, and friends for the help they had contributed so that
they could reach the altar of God. When they addressed to the congregations,
they usually asked for their continued support for the success of their
ministry, for their perseverance to the end of their lives so that they would
never betray their greatest friend and benefactor, Jesus Christ.
4. First Years of Priesthood
After the Canta
Missa, the new priests were given a few weeks of vacation so that they
could visit their relatives, benefactors, and friends. In my case, I had to go
back to Bishop Jurgens to present myself in order to start my pastoral ministry.
Bishop Jurgens gave me my first assignment. He sent me to be the assistant of
Msgr. Felix Domingo, the Vicar General, parish priest of St. Peter’s
Cathedral. In my visit, I saw that Bishop Jurgens, my benefactor, was sick and
his tuberculosis was worsening. He came out of the concentration camp of the
Japanese Armed Forces alive but a very sick man. On May 13, 1950, he went home
to God. Priest and faithful were saddened at his death, as he was a holy man who
showed apostolic zeal. He was loved by all his flock especially the poor. My
second parish was San Jose, Baggao, Cagayan. San Jose and the surrounding
barrios were densely populated. So I thought of founding a secondary high
school. The institution was San Jose Academy.
In May 1950, Bishop
Alejandro Olalia, then the co-adjutor, took over the government of Tuguegarao diocese. As soon as Bishop Olalia was installed, one of the first moves was the
transfer of the minor seminarians from Vigan minor seminary to Tuguegarao, the
seat of the diocese. The minor seminary was called after the old Colegio de San
Jacinto de Tuguegarao —San Jacinto Minor Seminary which was run by the
Dominican Fathers. Dominicans closed the old Colegio de San Jacinto de
Tuguegarao for financial reasons. When the minor seminarians arrived from Vigan,
there was no building ready and so they were temporarily housed at the bishop’s
residence. The faculty for the first operation were:
Rector: Rev. Fr. Telesforo Cordova
of Discipline: Rev. Fr. Salvador Lazo
of Studies: Rev. Fr.S alvador Lazo
Rev. Fr. Juan Quinto
Instructor: Rev. Father Jose Ingaran
Speaking Instructor: Rev. Fr. Domingo Mallo
5. Rector of Seminary
At the end of the
commencement exercises in 1951, a revamp was announced. Bishop Olalia finally
made his decision on who were to take care of the administration. In June 1951,
the assignments for coming school year were published. Fr. Cordova became the
parish priest of a big parish in the diocese. Also the other priests in the
faculty were given different parishes. As the academic year in 1951 began, I was
designated as the rector of the San Jacinto Minor Seminary. I objected to it but
the appointing authority would have none of it.
In 1954, in his
fourth year as the prelate of the diocese of Tuguegarao, Bishop Olalia was
promoted to the See of the Archdiocese of Lipa. As a result, a new bishop came
to the diocese as administrator. This was Bishop Juan C. Sison of Nueva Segovia.
As administrator of Tuguegarao Diocese, he did not make major changes. He
confirmed me in my new responsibility as rector of the San Jacinto Minor
Seminary, when I presented to him my resignation. He said: "Stay there
until I get someone to take over your office".
Early in 1957, a new bishop was
preconized. The new bishop-elect was a parish priest of Piat, Cagayan,
whose patron saint is St. Dominic de Guzman. Piat though is more known as the
sanctuary of Our Lady of Visitation. The bishop-elect was the Most Rev. Teodulfo
Following the installation
ceremonies, I went to him to tender my resignation as rector of the San Jacinto
Minor Seminary. He did not accept it. Instead he confirmed it. There was no
alternative, so I tried to be resigned to my responsibility. I faced the
problems best as I could. In every diocese there has to be a seminary, and the
seminary needs priests to run it. Therefore, I reflected on the policies and the
regulations to direct the institution.
In 1962, Pope John
XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Domingo, my bishop went to
Rome as a delegate. On coming home for the first time from Vatican II Council,
we expected some bulletins, newsletters, or flyers to update us on what was
happening in the Council. But there was none. I wondered why information on the
Council were not disseminated. At least nothing reached the diocese of Tuguegarao. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council came to an end. The delegates
came home and there was nothing for the clergy and people in Tuguegarao diocese
in the way of information.
6. Parish Priest
In 1967, Rev. Fr.
Miguel Purugganan finished his studies in the Gregorian University in Rome.
Bishop Domingo removed me from the office of rector. Upon his arrival Fr. Purugganan took over the responsibility of the San Jacinto Minor Seminary.
Bishop Domingo assigned me as parish priest of Lal-lo Cagayan. In 1967 the Lal-lo
High School was crowded with students. This made me conceive the idea of a
secondary school. After studying the project, I decided to submit my application
to the Department of Education for the Lyceum of Lal-lo. The Department of
Education approved my application. In 1968 - 69, Lyceum of Lal-lo started to
In 1969, the Novus
Ordo Missae came to the diocese of Tuguegarao for implementation. We were told
to change the Tridentine Latin Mass of St. Pius V. We wanted to know why and
there was no explanation given. Since we wanted to show our customary obedience
to our ecclesiastical superiors the order was implemented. "Roma
Locuta Cause Finita" [Rome has spoken, the case is closed]. We little thought that our submissiveness was taken
advantage of. The Latin Mass instituted by Jesus Christ was altered to a
concoction of Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, a Freemason. The innovators gave us a
counterfeit of the Latin Mass which is the Bugnini Mass. The maneuvers of the
Masonic manipulators made us feel bitter the moment the deception was unmasked.
The reformers gave us poison instead of nourishing spiritual food.
In 1969, during my
second year as parish priest of Lal-lo, I was
auxiliary bishop of the
diocese of Tuguegarao. Bishop Domingo was not in the diocese then. He was in the
United States visiting his brother but was present for the episcopal ordination
which was presided over by the nuncio, the Most Rev. Carmine Rocco, DD. After my
consecration, I continued saying the Novus Ordo Missae. My brother Jose, then a
missionary priest of the Society of the Divine Word, (SVD) attended my episcopal
consecration on February 3, 1970. But on April 25, he went home to God. As a
newly consecrated bishop I attended his burial mass in Christ the Mission Church
—he was buried in the cemetery of the Society [of the SVD] in New Manila.
In Vigan, there was
a newly consecrated bishop, the Most Rev. Antonio Buenafe was designated
auxiliary bishop of Nueva Segovia. His term however did not last long. A few
days after his consecration he boarded a bus, Times Transit, for Manila. There
was a quarrel among the passengers and the new bishop was shot by accident, in
that cross fire. The gunshot was fatal. My superiors assigned me to take his
place. Installation ceremonies in St. Paul’s Cathedral were presided over by
the Nuncio, Most Rev. Bruno Torpigliani, DD, on August 1977. My stay in the
Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia was only three years. Towards the end of this
stint, I was sent to go to the diocese of San Fernando of La Union because
Bishop Victorino C. Ligot was very seriously sick in Cardinal Santos Medical
Center in Metro Manila. Hearing this, I rushed to his bedside. He could no
longer speak as he was in a coma. Bishop Ligot finally died on September 18,
After the funeral
Mass, Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani, DD, the Nuncio, made me the administrator of
the diocese of San Fernando, La Union and a few months later, I became its
second residential bishop. The Catholic leaders convened to decide on the date
for my installation as the second ordinary of the diocese of San Fernando, La
Union, Philippines. The installation was done in the context of the Novus Ordo
Missae on March 9, 1981. I continued saying this New Rite until I reached the
age of retirement.
A few days after the
celebrations, I went to the diocesan Curia. It was not a building separate from
the cathedral. It was in the southern most part of the cathedral rectory. Fr. Laxamana, the secretary, welcomed me and then showed me around. In front of the
curia offices, there is three-story building just finished through the efforts
of the late Bishop Victorino Ligot. The Philtrust Bank was renting the ground
floor. The third floor was occupied by the Insurance companies. The second floor
was reserved for diocesan minor seminary —the Heart of Jesus Minor Seminary
—which was operated by the diocesan priests. My second official visit was
directed to the parishes and the diocesan schools. My overall impression was
that Bishop Ligot served well the diocese. I decided to build on his
My general evaluation suggested
that I first tackle the seminary problem. The seminarians should have a separate
building and lot. Consequently, I took steps to look for a location where the
seminary building could be constructed. Then applications for funding were made.
In a year, positive response was received from funding agencies abroad. With
this money, four hectares of land was bought in San Vicente, San Fernando, La
Union, a barrio near the sea. The cornerstone of the administration building was
blessed. And before long, the chapel and the dormitory followed. Other buildings
came later: the residence of the bishop, convents for two communities of
sisters, and finally the St. Joseph Pastoral Center.
After having familiarized myself
with the curia set-up, I turned my attention to the programs for the gatherings
of the priests that is, the recollections and pastoral assemblies. In the study
of the finances funds were allocated for the sick priests and for the material
and spiritual welfare of the priests for the diocese.
In the diocese the
following apostolates received encouragements:
catechetical Instructions for all the public schools given to the care of
the "Pastorelle Sisters" (Sisters of Jesus, the Good
diocesan schools (under the care of the bishop, through the diocesan
superintendent who was directly responsible to the bishop). St. Louis
College is owned by CICM Missionaries (Congregation of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary).
Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in some parish churches and
chapels of religious sisters.
Name Society (for men)
Rosary (under the flagship of the Blue Army)
Action for the poor through the Catholic Relief Services.
In March 1990, a very big
earthquake shook the Island of Luzon. The epicenter was only 50 kilometers from
the southern border of the diocese of La Union. It had the strength of 7.8 Ricther Scales. The damage was very great and extensive: 8
parish churches, 5 school buildings, and 5 rectories were partly or totally
destroyed. Appeals were made to the funding agencies in Germany. Through the
funds received, part of the damages were restored. But much of the damage of the
destructive tremor was never rehabilitated.
8. Bishop Emeritus
In 1992, my only
sister Teresa retired from her teaching job, as a college dean in a Zamboanga
City, on retirement. She was also sick. So she went to her doctor in the
University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Manila. Her physician diagnosed that her
cancer was in an advanced stage. I wanted a second opinion so I advised her to
go Philippine General Hospital, Manila. Doctors in the PGH confirmed the UST
diagnosis. She was living with us in Project 4, Quezon City. I decided that she
went home to Zamboanga City where her in-laws were residing so that they could
help her and her only daughter Emily in case she was going to die. If she were
going to die she could be buried beside Andres, her husband who went home to God
many years ago. She passed away on December 21st,1996. God rest her
In my thirteenth
year as bishop of the diocese, I reached my retirement age. By canon law I was
supposed to retire. I informed the nunciature and requested for replacement.
Soon enough the most Rev. Antonio Tobias, bishop of Pagadian Diocese in Mindanao
was announced as my successor. The new nuncio was invited by Bishop Tobias for
the installment. The Most Rev. Gian Vincenzo Moreni, D.D. came to grace the
occasion. As soon as the banquet was over I said goodbye to His Excellency
Bishop Tobias. I left the diocese of San Fernando, La Union, to go on my own for
good. That was on July 16, 1993.
invitations that I should stay in the diocese on account of my advanced age. An
emerging community of sisters reminded me: "You are getting old. Stay with
us we will take care of you". Well, I thanked them for their overtures. But
there seemed to be a strong beckoning to leave San Fernando Diocese of La Union.
I knew there were only few prospects for me outside the diocese but somehow I
heeded the call of city life. I lived with my sister, Teresa, who also had
retired from the office of dean of a college in Zamboanga City. Pooling our
modest resources together we constructed a humble residence and there we lived.
9. The decisive visit
The place chosen for
the building of our humble residence was not far from the priory of the Society
of St. Pius X. One night Mr. Antonio Malaya, Jr., and four catechists of the
priory paid me a visit. The four catechists were loaded with books. After the
initial pleasantries, I put a question to my visitors: "May I know why
are you visiting me"? They replied: "We want to know you". I was happy at the reply. Mr. Malaya extended his hands and said: "Glad
to know you". The catechists were Jade Liboro, Agnes Mendoza, Mitzie
Noche, Johanna Tabuena; they too held out their hands.
In less than an hour
of a lively conversation they announced that they wanted to leave. On hearing
this, one of the catechists inquired: "Can we leave these books with
you"? I was happy at the suggestion and my rejoinder was: "I’ll
be happy if you do so". Leaving the books on the chairs my visitors
stood up and bade goodbye. I was happy they left the books. I like to read. In
fact one of the things I missed as a bishop was to read for pleasure. Also I was
eager to update myself. As a bishop I had plenty to read. I read the hand-outs
from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) so that I
could submit credible reports.
What was so puzzling to me was
the fact that here was an international conference of 2,200 Catholic bishops and
there were no bulletins, nor flyers to give us an idea of what was happening in
Vatican II. It seemed that we were deliberately left in the dark. Was this an
act of the premeditated strategy? Well, I didn’t know.
10. Books which converted a bishop
So when my visitors were gone I
scanned the titles of the books. To my joy they were the ones I wanted so much
to read. Some of these titles:
—Marie Carré, TAN.
of Christ and The Conversion of the Jewish Nation
—Rev. Denis Fahey, C.S.SP.
Life —Collections of
and the Vatican —Visconte
Leon de Poncins
Genus —Pope Leo XIII
Gregis —Pope St Pius X
Animos —Pope Pius XI
Dei —Pope Pius XII
John XXIII Council —by Michael Davis, Angelus Press.
Reading these books
gave me a better idea of the crisis and confusion in the Church today. It became
clear to me who are the real enemies of the Catholic Church. Fr. Denis Fahey
pinpointed them when he wrote: "The enemies of the Catholic Church are
three. One invisible, Satan, and two visible:
Talmudic Judaism, and
is the visible chief enemy of the Catholic Church, is evident from the Church
history, from words and deeds of individuals, and groups and the teachings of
the Talmud of which the Kabalah constitute the basis of Judaism.
The third visible enemy of the
Catholic Church is Freemasonry. Many Christians are reluctant to say anything
about the power and control of Judeo-Masonry about its exercise in government,
Church, and society, for fear of offending Jewish Masonic friends and
neighbors. Many Masons are Christians who are ordinary good, patriotic
citizens who joined the Lodge for fraternal book and social reasons. They are
not privy to the secret machinations of the upper echelons of Freemasonry.
Nevertheless it is the degree to which to Christian principles; he renders a
disservice to his Christian religion —The first duty of any Mason is to obey
the mandate of the Master (not Christ but rather the Master of the Lodge)"
from the jacket of the book advertised.
One of the books
that surprised me was AA-1025, The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle, by Marie
Carré. These memoirs of an anti-apostle were about a Communist who purposely
entered the seminary for the Catholic priesthood with the intent to subvert and
destroy the Church from within. This exposed the plan of the Masons to send and
finance bright boys to the seminary to study for the Catholic priesthood. The
project was started more than a hundred years before Vatican II was convened.
Some of these priests were already bishops when Vatican II started, and ready
for the Council.
Another book that
was very enlightening was Conspiracy Against Life. The jacket makes this
an all-out exposé, this book shows how the United Nations is used as
killing machine of these conspirators (the Freemasons) to destroy the Roman
Catholic Church and society. It reveals how they dominate the world by
controlling all religious and politicians. Politics are manipulated by
centralizing banking trade and the military. Global religion is syncretized by
ranking Jesus, at the same rank as Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, and other ancient
religious leaders. They proclaim the fallen Angel, Lucifer, the highest of all
gods from whom Freemasons receive power, inspiration and knowledge.
Their mission is to build a
kingdom of material property, one world government —a new world order, under
This is what I saw on the jackets of the books I received and read. I found
them very alarming. And I thought I should unmask them to my friends no matter
how frightening were the programs of the enemies of the society and God.
It had been always a puzzle to me
that, in spite of the condemnation of Freemasonry by Pope Leo XIII in his
encyclical Humanum Genus (and by thirteen other popes,
as well, starting with Pope Clement XII in 1738) there were Freemasons in the
higher authorities of the Church. The magazine
an instance when a nuncio had become a Mason, and not long afterwards was given
the "red hat". What about the loyalties of these ecclesiastical
Masons? Reading the books disturbed me greatly as I was still then saying the
Novus Ordo Missae. To clear my doubts I read on. After more than a year of
searching for the truth, I began to make a decision —I had to return to the
Tradition of the Catholic Church and, along with that, to the Tridentine Latin
part 2 >