HomeCommentaryFootnotes on GOMBURZA

Footnotes on GOMBURZA

From the perspective of someone engaged in the ministry of forming mostly local secular clergy, let me add some more points about the movie GOMBURZA.

I have always been moved by a short and simple line from Burgos’ spirited defense of the secular clergy in a manifesto addressed to the Spanish nation. Burgos writes that the secular clergy “counts today with individuals who honor it as much by their knowledge and learning as by their virtue, their zeal in the fulfillment of their duties and their abnegation.” (John Schumacher’s translation).

Is the description of some members of the secular clergy as men who honor the priesthood by their learning and by their virtue still apt today? It is always the aim of seminary education to produce such kinds of presbyters. But sadly, there is a gap between the intention and the actual results.

The University of Santo Tomas deserves commendation for opening its program of advanced degrees to natives. But it eventually closed such a program after 1872. Continuation of such a program would have risked producing many more sympathizers for the cause of nationalism.

Indeed, the most potent force for liberation is education. Authentic education that would encourage students not just to memorize stale formulae but to exercise critical thinking would always be dangerous to any establishment whose authority is based on power and not on reason.

To prove this point, try to check the educational curricula created by dictators. But this also implies that serious study is required for truth to speak effectively to power. The powerful are not easily cowed by protests full of slogans but lacking in substance.

Jose Burgos and Pedro Pelaez did not see the results of their struggle. It was only after the death of Burgos that many of those he mentored continued the fight not just for secularization but for independence.

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But such is the very dynamics of life: We wager on some values we hold dear not knowing what sacrifices we have to make and what the results would be. We cannot even be sure whether our struggle will be pursued after we are gone. But despite the uncertainty, persons like Burgos know that speaking the truth and fighting for justice and equality, are worth all the pain.

As we start 2024, let us resolve to continue planting the seeds of goodness and truth, trusting that God will make them grow.


Fr. Ramon D. Echica is the Dean of Studies of the San Carlos Major Seminary. He obtained his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) in 1998.

Read Fr. Echica’s previous article on the film here: https://philippines.licas.news/2023/12/27/on-gomburza-the-movie/

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