The Order of Friars Minor in the Philippines is set to discuss with legislators a proposed measure to rename a historic landmark in the national capital.
Father Irineo Tactac, OFM, said the religious order is just waiting for the response of the senators. He said a personal meeting would give more light to the issue.
Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid, a former movie actor, earlier filed a bill renaming San Francisco del Monte Avenue in Quezon City to Fernando Poe Jr. Avenue.
Lapid said the move was to honor the late Poe, dubbed “King of Philippines Movies,” whose production company is located in the area.
Father Tactac, rector of the Basilica Minore de Sanctuario de San Pedro Bautista, expressed hope that the senators would consider the historical significance of the street.
The Franciscan’s provincial house and the Santuario de San Pedro Bautista are located in the area where the parish’s patron saint, San Pedro Bautista, stayed in the 1590s.
The Santuario de San Pedro Bautista was recently elevated as a Minor Basilica for its antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, and significance as a center of worship.
Father Tactac said the minor basilica, which is within the compound of the Franciscan’s retreat center, is one reason why the country needs to preserve the name of the street.
San Francisco del Monte, which was established by San Pedro Bautista on Feb. 17, 1590, is considered as the oldest settlement in Quezon City.
It was an independent town where the old Santuario de San Pedro Bautista was built as a retreat and monastery for Franciscan friars.
When Quezon City was established in 1939, San Francisco del Monte and other small towns like Novaliches and Balintawak were merged.
Father Tactac said removing the name San Francisco Del Monte will “obscure the historical contribution of the first settlements.”
Father Cielo Almazan, minister provincial of the Franciscans, said there is “a great need to remind” the public, including government officials and policymakers, of “the role of these religious and historical landmarks to the identity” of the Filipinos.
The priest said San Francisco Del Monte is not just a name of a street but a monument that tells how a part of Filipino culture and religiosity was molded throughout the centuries.
Father Almazan underscored the importance of “looking back to our roots and history,” which he said would “guide us to emerge better” in the future.
“San Francisco Del Monte district and the early Franciscans have played a huge role in the formative years of Christianity in the Philippines especially during the first two centuries,” he said.
The priest said preserving and treasuring these religious and historical landmarks “has become a duty not only for the religious sector but for the entire country” as the Philippines prepares the observance of the 500 years of the arrival of Christianity in the country and in Asia.
Father Almazan expressed optimism that the proponents of the proposed measure to rename the street “will have a change of heart once they hear our reasons why we oppose the plan.”