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PIA Press Release
2008/08/27

PGMA unveils commemorative statue of Cardinal Santos in Pampanga

Manila (27 August) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unveiled at noon yesterday the six-foot statue of the late Rufino Cardinal Santos, in ceremonies marking his 100th birth anniversary at the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Guagua, Pampanga.

The President, who arrived here at 10 a.m., joined her cabalens in the solemn high mass concelebrated by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, archbishop of Manila, and San Fernando Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto, in honor of Cardinal Santos.

The unveiling of the Cardinal Santos' bronze statue took place shortly before 12 noon.

The statue, which was crafted by Edillardo Paras, a Kapangpangan, will sit atop a seven-foot concrete pedestal outside the Rufino J. Cardinal Santos Convention Hall adjacent to the parish church.

Rufino Jiao Santos was born on Aug. 26, 1908 in the rustic barrio of Sto. Nino, Guagua, Pampanga. His father, Gaudencio, was an overseer of some farmlands near Mount Arayat, while his mother, Rosalia, of Chinese roots, attended to the domestic needs of her family.

The late cardinal was the fourth child in a brood of seven. His three elder brothers were Manuel, Emiliano and Quirino; his three sisters were Clara, Jovita, and Exequiela.

Even at an early age, the future cardinal was active in church activities as "acolyte," and choir member of the Manila Cathedral School.

Years later, he would say that the two things influenced his decision to enter the priesthood: his stint as an altar server, and the inspiration and encouragement of Father Jose Tahon, parish priest of the Manila Cathedral.

Pinong, the young Rufino's nickname, entered the San Carlos Seminary on June 15, 1921. At the seminary, he was initiated into the strict rules and regulations of the seminary. It was during this time that he studied the classics and philosophy and mastered Latin.

In 1927, three scholarships at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, were offered to Filipino seminarians upon the representation of then Manila Archbishop Michael O' Doherty. Two of the scholarships were awarded to San Carlos seminarians, who were selected on the basis of conduct and scholastic standing.

The 19-year-old Pinong and Leopoldo A. Arcaira, 24, both outstanding students of San Carlos Seminary, were the first recipients of the scholarships.

Rufino received his baccalaureate in canon law in 1929. Two years later, he earned his doctorate in sacred theology at the age of 22. But because he was still below the required canonical age of 24, he had to obtain a dispensation from the Pope before he could be ordained.

The dispensation was granted, and on Oct. 25, 1931, two months shy of his 23rd birthday, Rufino J. Santos was ordained priest at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.

In Feb. 1932, Rufino J. Santos and Leopoldo A. Arcaira returned to the Philippines to begin their ministry.

He served as the Archbishop of Manila from 1953, succeeding Archbishop Reyes. Then on March 31, 1960, he was named cardinal, the first Filipjno to receive the distinction, by Pope John XXIII.

Cardinal Santos paved the way for the founding of Catholic Charities (Caritas Manila) and the reconstruction of St. Paul Hospital (now the Cardinal Santos Medical Center). Established by Maryknoll Sisters, St. Paul Hospital was damaged by heavy American artillery during World War II.

Cardinal Santos also re-instituted the Philippine Trust Company and the Catholic Travel Office.

He rebuilt, the Manila Cathedral, which was also damaged during World War II, and dedicated it to the patronage of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 10 1958.

It was during his time as Archbishop of Manila that Pope Paul VI made a pastoral visit to the Philippines, the first ever by a Supreme Pontiff in the history of the Philippine Church.

The Pope's journey was also occasioned by the Asian Bishops' Meeting, which was graced by the presence of the Holy Father himself. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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