Fr. Eric I. Santos of the Eastern Catholic Church Preaches Where He is Needed Most

Fr. Eric I. Santos of the Eastern Catholic Church

Preaches Where He is Needed Most

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Fr. Eric is “Fr. Ericson I. Santos, D.D.”, an Eastern Catholic priest who established an “oasis of faith” in the heart of Malumot, a depressed area of Panapaan 7 in Bacoor City. The young priest has gone through trials that saw him start his spiritual career as an Aglipayan priest.

 

He finished his studies in Batac, Ilocos Norte, and in 1999 was ordained as an Aglipayan priest. His first assignment brought him to Olongapo, particularly, the Sta. Rita parish where he preached until 2004. On that same year until 2008, he covered the whole of Zambales and Cavite. In October of 2008, he was elected as Bishop for southern Tagalog diocese. For his consecration, no less than, Bayani Fernando, the popular head of the Metro Manila Development Authority stood as his sponsor, with Bishop Romualdo Badni officiating. The following year, 2009, he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Zambales.

 

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances that brought about some enlightenment, Fr. Eric made a crucial decision to join the Holy Eastern Catholic Church, particularly, the Metropolitan See of the Philippines and All Asia. From then on, what he started in Malumot began to prosper as he found the community deserving of such spiritual attention.

 

A young spiritual shepherd at the age of 36, Fr. Eric, has been consistent in his advocacy by attending to the needs of the Catholics around the area, reaching out to them, using a motorcycle. He confides that the spiritual offerings of the faithful are in a way “returned” to them through the affordable improvements of the chapel. He derives his personal financial support from being the chaplain of Bacoor city which makes the government then, afford to extend not only the temporal assistance for the constituents, but the spiritual as well. He became known among the people of Bacoor as the priest who dispenses spiritual help with much ease, in spite of distance and time.

 

When I visited Fr. Eric, it was a Holy Thursday during which I witnessed a “pabasa” in their humble chapel. He was a picture of a “true shepherd” who melds with the faithful around him, in his shorts and t-shirt. While we were conversing, groups of children would stop by to kiss his hand or put it on their forehead as a sign of respect. We had an iced chocolate that he bought in the food stall nearby to counter the terrible heat of the early afternoon sun. Just like any Catholic “father” of the parish, he dreams of having the present chapel renovated for the necessary second floor.

 

Malumot is “catch basin” during flood days since time immemorial as it is situated beside a river that easily gets overflowed. Fr. Eric experienced the waist-deep flood since the first day he lived among the people of this area but his resolve was never deterred. He could have just lived comfortably in any subdivision near the area and just conduct regular service in the chapel, but such decision never entered his mind.

Without saying, his act implies that he should suffer with his flock according to his vow of poverty…indeed, an act of a true Catholic priest or Christian shepherd for that matter. May other Christian leaders emulate your ways, Fr. Eric..or, Bishop Eric!…Bacoor City is fortunate to have you!

 

Sa Pagngiti…para kay Lorie Gonzaga-Cantimbuhan

Sa Pagngiti…

(para kay Lorie Gonzaga-Cantimbuhan)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang mga mata ay bintana ng ating pagkatao

Ngiti naman ang nagpapahiwatig ng ating damdamin –

Kung bukal ba sa loob ang pakikipagharap sa ating kapwa

Dahil kung ganoon naman, ay mababakas sa ating mukha.

May mga ngiting matipid kung ipakita sa iba

Kaya halos ayaw ibukang mga labing tiim sa pagkalapat

Meron ding mga ngiting nagpapagaan ng loob sa kausap

Kaya, pagkapalagayang loob ay nangyayari sa isang iglap.

Sa mukha ni Lorie, na nababanaagan ng ganda

Ang matamis na ngiti’y naging bahagi na at nakaukit din

Nagpapahiwatig ng kanyang kaloobang ubod ng dalisay

Puhunan niya sa pagtahak sa landas ng magulong buhay.

Matamis na ngiti’y nagpapaaliwalas ng mukha

At pati na rin paligid ay naaambunan din nito ng liwanag

Ang patunay ay si Lorie, kahit unang beses lang na kausap

Nakakagaan ng loob, nakakapanatag, kung siya’y kaharap!