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FRANCE, BULUSAN'S NEW PARISH PRIEST
AFTER twenty-five years serving parishes in the USA,
Metro-Manila, and in the province of Sorsogon since his
ordination, Rev. Fr. Domingo A. France has finally come home: he
is now the parish priest of St. James Greater parish in Bulusan,
Together with his assistant, Rev. Fr. Romy H. Dimaano, Fr.
France assumed his new post on July 1, 2004 before a crowd of
fellow Buluseños who warmly welcomed them.
His present assignment is a great relief to his townmates
who have long been wishing him to be their parish priest.
Knowing fully well his vast experience in the management of
church affairs and his impressive accomplishments in his past
assignments, the local parishioners expect big changes in their
religious activities and improvements of the church’s
Upon his assumption, he concentrated on the proper
administration of the sacraments, fiestas, incomons, parish barangay masses, and the implementation of the Diocesan
Ecclesiastical and Evangelical Program (DEEP).
According to Fr. France, his immediate concern now which he
would like to appeal to the parishioners are fourteen pieces of
stained glass and the construction of the church’s sibay
or side wings. This
is to protect the churchgoers who are seated near the church’s
side doors from getting wet on rainy days. The rectory also needs
immediate repair, he added.
If it were possible, he said, he would like to start right
now the construction of a concrete alleluiahan
in time for next year’s Easter Sunday celebration.
He pointed out that of the sixteen towns of Sorsogon,
Bulusan is one of the only two remaining parishes with no such
Fr. France who is now in his mid-fifties, is the son of
farmer Pedro France and the late Mercedes Aguilar of Barangay
Looban, Bulusan. He took his elementary and secondary education in his
hometown but finished his priesthood at St. John’s Seminary in
Camarollo, California, USA in 1979.
He was ordained in Los Angeles and became assistant priest
at the St. Anthony Parish in Long Beach until 1980.
On his return to the Philippines, he was assigned assistant
priest at the Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Sorsogon City.
He later became the parish priest of St. Joseph Parish in
Barcelona, Our Lady of the Pillar in the town of Pilar, St.
Anthony in Gubat, and chaplain of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in
Pasay City where he underwent medication for his diabetes.
It was during this period that he was also the regular
celebrant of the monthly mass for Damayan-Buluseño at the Knights
of Columbus Clubhouse in Manila which is considered as an
extension of the Parish of St. James the Greater back home.
Prior to his assignment in Bulusan, he was the rector at
the Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Sorsogon City.
Now that he is in his hometown, many observers are of their
honest opinion that with Fr. France’s dedication to his parish,
there is no doubt the Buluseño parishioners can now see the
realization not only of his plans for the improvements of the
facilities of their church but the upliftment of their spiritual
well-being as well.
JAMES THE GREATER, ON THE GO
The Parish of St. James, the Greater, under its new parish priest, Rev. Fr. Domingo A. France, a native-born Buluseño, supports the local church's programs and activities. Delegates to all Diocesan conferences/seminars are given by the Parish Pastoral Council allowances for registration and transportation.
The month of October is Rosary Month. The image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary will be brought to all barangays in a procession as scheduled; will stay in a certain place for three days with the people saying the rosary in the evening. The culminating activity is to be managed by the Immaculate Heart of Mary School, under the Franciscan Sisters.
On-going projects for the improvement of the church's physical aspect are as follows:
1. Cleanup activities at the Catholic cemetery through bayanihan (August 23) headed by all hermanos. Snacks and lunch to be provided by religious organizations.
2. Construction of a cemented pathwalk from the patio center to the rectory, and paving of the latter's front yard - by all hermanos headed by the hermano mayor.
3. Constuction of a permanent alleluiahan courtesy of the Halum family
4. Repair of the rectory's roofing and gutter through solicitation of materials
5. Renovation of the old belfry by the Holy Name Society to come up with its antiquity
6. Improvement of the patio walls and Punta Diamante by the incoming Hermano Mayor. Installation of new hermanos slated on October 17, 2004.
(Juan G. Galindes)
CASTILLO TO RISE SOON
soon, the Parish of St. James the Greater of Bulusan will no
longer be one of the only two remaining parishes in the Province
of Sorsogon with no permanent castillo
or alleluiahan. The yearly
construction of its temporary structure for the Easter Sunday
ritual will be a thing of the past, that is, when a concrete one
rises within the church patio courtesy of the prominent Halum
The Halum family made this commitment after attending the
burial of their brother Martin on August 21, 2004.
When finished, it will be the realization of the cherished
wish of the town’s newly installed parish priest, Rev. Fr.
Domingo A. France, a native-born Buluseño.
It will be recalled that since time immemorial, the castillo
in Bulusan has been put up every year before the Holy Week in
different places in town depending on the wish and pleasure of the
parish priest and the hermano.
It is usually made of light materials for easy dismantling after
Inspired by similar edifices (but of concrete materials)
that he has seen in other parishes, Fr. France made it as one of
his top priority projects in his hometown.
Its construction may start anytime now to make it ready for
next year’s Easter Sunday.
preparation for the January 2005 implementation of the Diocesan
Ecclesiastical Evangelization Program’s (DEEP) Diocesan Pastoral
Plan – Phase IV 2004-2009, the Local Church of the Diocese of
Sorsogon is conducting a series of conferences/seminars with the
purpose of disseminating information about the Program.
Family and Human Life Council Core Group at Gubat Parish
Rectory, Gubat, Sorsogon.
Council on Service at Licup’s Hall, Sorsogon City
Council on the Laity at St. Matthew’s Hall, Sorsogon City
Community Organizers, Minor Seminary, Sorsogon City
Pastoral Moderators at every vicariate
Sts. Peter & Paul, Sorsogon City
Our Lady of the Pillar, Pilar, Sorsogon
St. Anthony of Padua, Gubat, Sorsogon
St. Michael the Archangel, Irosin, Sorsogon
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Bulan, Sorsogon
Diocesan Women’s Network, St. Matthew’s Hall, Sorsogon
Family and Human life Coordinators, St. Matthew’s Hall,
The councils tasked with the formulation of specific
guidelines and programs for implementation by the different
commissions have an acronym of FLYMEWEST, i. e.: Family and Human
Life, Laity, Youths, Worship, Education, Service, and
Vision of the Diocese of Sorsogon & the Goals of the Diocesan
A community of FAITH living in LOVE according to the Gospel
message, responding in SERVICE to the signs of the times, striving
in HOPE, for the coming of the Kingdom.
to form the local church into an evangelical and
evangelizing communtiy of FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE
to organize the Local Church of Sorsogon into a worshipping
and serving community, present in small communities that give
witness to a life of Unity, Justice, Peace, and Love.
to organize in the Local Church of Sorsogon basic
communities that are fully worshipping and serving, and empowered
to give witness to Christian Stewardship.
to form a Local Church
where Faith and Life are integrated
where Justice and Love are the norms of social life, and
where authentic Christian families are formed through an effective
organization, properly managed resource, and sufficient program of
(Juan G. Galindes)
MOVEMENTS IN BULUSAN DISTRICT
Along with the DEPED policy on quality education, some
heads of schools were transferred to schools where their services
are more aptly needed, to wit:
Dr. Lorenzo F. de Castro is now at Gubat South Central
School, Gubat South District, Gubat, Sorsogon, as Public Schools
District Supervisor. Bulusan
District PSDS is vacant.
2. Dr. Romeo D.
Domasian, Bulusan Central School Principal II is now at Gubat
North Central School, Gubat North Disctrict.
Mrs. Rosalina P. Burabod is transferred to Bulusan Central
School; she comes from Cumadcad Elementary School, Castilla West
In the District of Bulusan, here are the new movements:
Mrs. Norma H. Fumera
San Roque Elementary School
Mr. Nicolas Freo
Sabang Elementary School
Mr. Elias Fuedan
Buhang Elementary School
Mrs. Gloria P. Freo
Porog Elementary School
Mrs. Atanasia Frivaldo
San Antonio Elementary School
Mrs. Norma G. Quiñones
Porog Elementary School
Mr. Edgardo Gabales
Dancalan Elementary School
Mr. Ramon F. Atianza
San Francisco Elementary School
Sta. Barbara Elementary School needs a Head Teacher; while
the other schools are under the Teachers-in-Charge.
Some other teachers were promoted as Master Teachers but
almost eleven vacated items have not been replaced.
One of the reasons cited is the decrease in enrollment. (Juan
HALUM PASSES AWAY
having been bedridden in painful agony for a year and a half, Mr.
Martin Gaylon Halum finally succumbed to lung cancer on August 11,
2004 at the family residence in New Jersey, USA.
At his bedside were his loving wife, the former Marietta
Moraleda of Sorsogon City and their children, Marissa, 26 and
Martin II, 24.
His remains were brought home to Bulusan on August 20 and
were interred at the Halum family mausoleum the following day at
Earlier at 9:00 A.M., a concelebrated mass and necrological
service were held at the St. James Parish Church before a big
crowd of family members, close relatives and friends, former
classmates, and symphatizers who were all so saddened by his
untimely demise. Among
the speakers who spoke highly of him were his former classmates at
But what touched most the hearts of those who attended the
funeral rites was the letter of the late Mr. Halum himself which
was read by a sister-in-law.
In the letter, he related all the sufferings and mental
torture he endured from the time his illness was detected until
his dying moments.
It was after his vacation in Bulusan with wife Marietta
sometime last year that he was diagnosed in the US to have a lung
cancer in the fourth stage.
The whole family who loved him so much tried hard to save
him from the dreaded disease by getting the services of known
specialists in the said country but they were only able to prolong
his life until finally the end came to him at age 66.
This very kind-hearted, humble, and mild-mannered gentleman
was well loved by those who know him.
In fact, upon knowing of his physical condition, many
prayed fervently for his recovery.
Despite his high social stature being the son of a
prominent couple, the late Don Ramon Halum, Sr. and Doña
Salvacion Gaylon of Barangay Dancalan, his humility was beyond
question. He had a
soft spot in his heart for the poor.
In fact, he had planned to continue helping uplift the
living conditions of the indigents upon his retirement.
A few years back, he met with his childhood friend, former
classmate and Igsoon Elio Fuentes at the Philippine Village
Hotel in Parañaque City. He
was then to depart for the US the following day after attending
the burial of his late brother Pacien in Bulusan.
In their conversation, Mr. Halum signified his desire to
sponsor a scholar in college through the scholarship program of
Last March, his scholar, Salvacion Gardon, graduated in
Education from the Bicol University.
Last June, just two months before his death, his scholar
started teaching at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Bulusan.
He wanted to sponsor more scholars from poor families so
that Bulusan could have more professionals but all his dreams were
cut short in a very painful way by the treacherous disease.
For the readers to feel and understand how it is to be
afflicted with cancer, here is the full text of Mr. Martin
the past, I saw a few people suffering from cancer. Some acquaintances, a friend here and there, no family member
though, except my wife’s, and I thought I knew how much
they suffered. I
was wrong… what cancer does to you is more than what it
is cracked up to be.
Before it takes your life, it has already taken
away your living. It
robs you of your very being and replaces it with a
nightmare of endless pains and deep anguish. I see cancer
with my own eyes each morning as I face the mirror.
Even now, I cannot believe what I see – what is
here and now: a pitiful shadow of what I was a mere year
and a half ago.
the one that foreshadows the finality of life, is beyond
words and so personal. It is yours and no matter how much
love and devotion from people around you, it’s yours
keeps you from sleep, and when exhaustion takes over,
sleep is never serene or relaxing.
[The pain] is there from the time you awaken and
accompanies you through the long hours of the morning,
afternoon and evening.
There’s no hiding from its relentless and
it has reduced me to no more than a moving mass of tissues
unable to even feed itself.
Gone is the proud strength of being a man, a
husband, a father, perhaps a human being.
I cannot drive, cannot go anywhere without a
companion even to the toilet.
Cannot move around without help.
My wife…she has practically given up her dental
practice; my daughter and son…they had to go through
very challenging academic years with my situation weighing
on them; Tini, my son, even suggesting that he take off
from medical school so he could help in my care.
I have become a burden to the very people I
committed my life to support and protect.
bad as the physical suffering is, it is not the
gut-wrenching and heart-breaking torment of my soul. Life
was good, very good before all of this.
I took [forced into] an early retirement.
Happily, it turned out.
I worked hard for so long – while Marietta went
through dental school and our two children through college
– and the hard work was just beginning to bear fruit in
the success of my wife’s practice and the
accomplishments of our two children. The pride and joy of my life who were going on to doctoral
programs in health care.
I could not have dreamt of a more blessed fortune.
It was a time full of promise—graduations, family
get-togethers, then perhaps weddings, and finally
grandchildren, baptisms, holy communions…they were all
within sight, when this cruel monster struck and cut me
down and all of my dreams, yearnings, hopes and happiness
came crashing down.
week, the results of the last MRI of my brain finally came
in after 6 weeks of waiting and the doctor said in so many
words that there was nothing else really that can be done
for me. We did not want to break the news to my son who
was preparing for board exams and to my daughter who was
actually taking her boards, not as yet anyway.
But they knew, and I know they knew because I heard
Tini sobbing in his room last night…Tini – the
wholesome, young man who embodies my ambitions in life, my
golf-buddy, my friend…I now won’t see him in his
doctor’s garb. Marissa
– my beloved and precious one who has grown up to be a
source of pride, following the footsteps of her mother.
And my wife who is loved and loves a hundred more
times back in return – these are my greatest losses and
it just breaks my heart to think that I have been robbed
of years of sharing, of caring, of just being with them.