March 8, 2018, Quezon City, Cubao, the Philippines – Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP, was among a group of Adrian Dominican Sisters in the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter to participate in the Second Annual Walk for Life February 24 to commemorate the peaceful people’s uprising.
The purpose of the walk was to “champion the value of life, which is threatened with prevailing issues in the country,” Sister Antonette explained. These issues include extrajudicial killings, part of the war on drugs launched by President Rodrigo Duterte shortly after his election in 2016. This campaign has resulted in an estimated 12,000 deaths of suspected drug dealers, drug users, and others, according to the 2018 World Report of Human Rights Watch. Other life issues include the proposed re-institution of the death penalty and the destruction of the environment, Sister Antonette said.
The Sisters left Pampanga, where many are stationed, at 2:45 a.m. on February 24 to participate in the 4:00 a.m. walk and a program of testimonies by several pro-life advocates from Catholic lay organizations. Sister Antonette was especially struck by the witness against the death penalty of a Filipina actress (Ms. Cherry Pie Picache) whose mother had been brutally murdered. The actress instead advocated for restorative justice and forgiveness. “Through prayer we can achieve this difficult Christian response,” Sister Antonette said. “The process demands radical love from us, love which we can give even to those who harmed or hurt us, following Jesus’ own radical love for us despite our sins.”
The event culminated in the celebration of the Eucharist with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as presider. During his homily, Cardinal Tagle warned the faithful to be vigilant, “not to be influenced by the prevailing culture of seeing everything, including human life, as a ‘commodity or thing’ which can be disposed of when no longer needed,” Sister Antonette said. “Cardinal Tagle’s call was for us to bring back the mentality of valuing every life as a gift from God, which therefore should be treasured.”
In the afternoon of the same day, Sisters participated in another Mass, community march and lighting of candles, organized by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) in the chapel of Stella Maris College in Quezon City. This entire event is a commemoration of the February 25,1986, EDSA Revolution and the role of the AMRSP in advocating for peace and justice since its founding in the 1970s during the martial law. “The AMRSP was not cowed during the Marcos dictatorship,” wrote Father Cielito R. Almazan, OFM, and Sister Regina Kuizon, RGS, co-chairpersons of AMRSP, in a letter to members. “It will not be cowed now. Despite the challenges we face in our country today, it will remain in the front lines in fighting injustice. … It will continue to lead and be in solidarity with the people, for the people.”
Feature photo: Participants in the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) Mass get a better view on a large screen.