A statue of nationalist priest Pedro Pelaez was unveiled at the country’s only school named after him on Monday, August 22, the first day of classes in public schools.
The statue was a promise made by the Manila Cathedral to the elementary school but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the plan.
“Today we were able to fulfill our promise,” said Father Reginald Malicdem, the Manila Cathedral’s rector.
The unveiling also marked the school’s first face-to-face classes after more than two years of remote learning due to the pandemic.
Vladimir Paraiso, the principal of the school in Manila’s Sampaloc district, described the event as “historic” because “it’s the first time for the only school in the country named after Padre Pelaez to have his statue.”
After the unveiling of the statue, Father Malicdem officiated Mass at the school with Father Kali Llamado, the cathedral’s vice rector, and Father Jason Laguerta of the Sacred Heart Parish in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
In his homily, Father Llamado expressed hope that the students will grow like Father Paez, “who defend and stand with the weak and despised in society”.
Father Pelaez was a member of the cathedral chapter of Manila who fought for the rights of the Filipino secular clergy, whose rights were being violated by the royal orders of 1848 and 1861.
“Together with other Filipino priests like Father Mariano Gomez, he wrote explanations or ‘exposición’ defending the capability of the Filipino clergy to hold parishes and become parish priests,” the cathedral said.
Father Pelaez died at the Manila Cathedral during the earthquake of 1863.