Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

By Manuel L. Morató

It is with deep sadness to know that my good friend, Bishop Cruz had passed away.

He was a good friend who often dropped by my house to visit and to chat.  We laughed a lot together.  We exchanged opinions as if we could solve the problems of the country by the two of us.

Archbishop Cruz was a Canon Lawyer, updated in the Pontifical University in Rome in the 1970s.

For many years, he was the Bishop of Lingayen, Pangasinan.  He also headed the Metropolitan Tribunal for Church Annulment of Marriage; and also became the Rector of the San Carlos Seminary.

Those who knew of my being close to Bishop Cruz would ask me “kung puwede ko raw tulungan ipakilala sa kanila si Bishop; or recommend them to him.”  Bakit?  “Papaano po ba magpa-annul ng marriage.”  Diyan po ayaw ko makialam, ang sagot ko.

There were only a few who approached me.  Maybe they thought that by introducing them to Bishop Cruz, they would get the decision faster.  But that’s a long and tedious process.  Gawin na lang ninyo ang ginawa ng aking professor sa piano when I was in High School sa Georgetown Prep.  My professor was Brother Alfredo Oswald, son of the greatest pianist of Brazil who won the 1st prize in a competition in Paris in the 1850s as a pianist-composer and even beat Claude Debussy in Paris.

Brother Oswald was the only son of the great pianist-composer Alfredo Oswald of Brazil whose birthday is honored by a national holiday.

Brother Oswald entered the Jesuit Order, but he could not be ordained as a priest for he was married before joining the Jesuit Order.  Thus, he was called Brother Oswald.  He taught piano in Georgetown Prep.  I was one of the students who studied under him.  He toured Europe with Arthur Rubeinstein and together played the dual piano concerts.

Those who desire to separate from marriage, why don’t you do what Brother Oswald and his wife did?  They agreed to separate.  The wife entered the cloistered Carmelite Order and Brother Oswald entered the Jesuit Order.

Once in awhile, Brother Oswald would visit his wife in the Convent also in Maryland, only through a curtained window, without seeing each other face to face.  The former wife joined the cloistered Carmelite Order where the nuns are contemplative, spending their days in prayers.  What a sacrifice.

To those who are contemplating on separating and ending their marriage vows, why don’t you follow what Brother Alfredo Oswald and his wife did?

I never spoke about the Church annulment with Archbishop Cruz.  That did not interest me for I am not married, neither is the Bishop.  Our conversation always touched on what was happening in the country.  For one, he was so anti-illegal gambling, so much so that he joined the Senate investigations.  He was fiercely against the STL, Jueteng, etcetera… That was during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in mid-2006 or thereabout.

Honestly, I watched the hearings in the Senate and I observed that Archbishop Cruz, then Bishop of Pangasinan, was terribly disturbed with the proliferation of illegal gambling including the STL.

On one of his visits to my private office here on the ground floor of my building where we often talked, he told me and asked me: “Why did President Gloria approve the STL through the PCSO?”  I told him: “Bishop, the approval of President Gloria was conditional and on a trial basis of one year only.”

I continued to explain how it happened.  Some mayors in the South kept requesting if the STL could be allowed.  But President Gloria considered the request on a trial basis of only one year; that the operators must seek the approval and permission of the Bishop of the province where they intend to operate.

Bishop Cruz was surprised and told me: “Is that true, Manoling.”  I told him it’s true Bishop and I can get you a copy of the document with that specific condition from the President.  He turned pensive and I guess somewhat remorseful for being too harsh in the Senate hearings.

That was midday.  I told him: “Bishop, I’ll go to the PCSO Board Corporate Secretary Reyes to get a copy of the resolution passed by the Board.”

He could not believe what I told him.  But I could see he was happy and could not wait to see the Resolution passed by the Board.

I was able to give him a copy that evening.  Bishop stopped joining the hearings; if he did, he never criticized President Gloria anymore.

Bishop and I always spoke in Spanish.

I will never forget Bishop Cruz when I was hospitalized and confined for 8 months in St. Luke’s Medical Center because of the false charges of Margie Juico who was appointed by President PNoy as PCSO Chairman replacing all the appointees of President Gloria.  We all stepped down before the end of June 2010.

That’s when our “Calvary” started.  Chairman Margie Juico together with her Board accused us one after another of false charges against us, appointees of President Gloria.  Margie’s group invented charges one after another we never did.  It was vengeance against President Gloria who removed Margie as PCSO board member in 2005.  I won’t touch on it anymore.  Kaya nong President PNoy took over, talagang hindi niya tinigilan hanggang makuha ang PCSO Chairmanship.  It was her dream since President Cory’s time when she was appointed one of the PCSO directors; also in the time of President Ramos who appointed me as PCSO Chairman; kasi hiniling daw ni Cory to re-appoint Margie as one of the directors.

Kinulong kaming lahat na mga appointees ni President Gloria.  We all suffered; and I suffered a heart attack when I heard over the radio in my car on my way to Makati.  I was brought by my driver and assistant brother to my doctor in St. Luke’s right away.  I was put on hospital arrest for eight months without knowing what she was charging us with.  Puro imbento.  I can never forget those people and I heard some have been charged lately by the NBI of corruption.

Why some?  The entire board then was in cahoots.

Bishop, I will never forget you.  You always visited me in the hospital and prayed over me and prayed together.  Your frequent visits helped me so much.  I will never forget you, Bishop.

It’s a coincidence or was it God’s will to put us together as good close friends for we were born in the same month and the same day.

But we were not able to celebrate together for his brother and nephew would take Bishop Cruz for a short trip abroad para siya ipasyal for about a week out of the country.

Pero nagte-text ako sa kanya ng “Felicidades, Bishop. Happy Birthday” and he would text me that same.

Bishop, do not forget to help me from heaven, as I offer my daily prayers for you in my private chapel which you blessed every time you came to visit me.

Rest in peace for all eternity, dear Bishop. 

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