Appreciation remarks delivered by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN, President of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica Foundation, during the formal ceremonies to honor the donors and benefactors of the Manila Cathedral held on June 4, 2015 at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica, Intramuros, Manila.
On behalf of His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica Foundation, I welcome all of you to this elegant home of our Lord Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary the Immaculate Conception.
We invited His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, but I understand he is not feeling well, so he could not come. May I however greet him in absencia. Several years ago, Cardinal Rosales asked Ambassador Tita de Villa, our vice-chairperson, to summon all the officers and trustees of the Foundation to begin the task of looking into the structural integrity of the Cathedral in the face of many earthquakes in our country. At his leadership, the Foundation brought down the centuries-old heavy bells at the deteriorating Cathedral belfry tower and installed them at the gardens on the left side of the Cathedral. In their stead, we installed a much lighter set of 14 Carillon Bells over four years ago in December 2010. Mabuhay po kayo Cardinal Rosales.
May I also especially greet and thank our benefactors and donors whom we are honoring tonight. We could not have retrofitted, restored and beautified this historic church without your help.
I am totally impressed by your willingness and graciousness in contributing cash totalling over P186 million and non-cash equivalents amounting to about P14 million, or a grand total of about P200 million. Many of you gave more than what we asked, and more than what you committed.
For example, two years ago, when I mentioned to our top cash contributor, Mr. Ramon S. Ang, our dream to restructure, rehabilitate and restore the Cathedral, I did not have any idea how much would be needed because we did not know the structural problems we would be facing. This was because we had no as-built-plans of the Cathedral in the archives of the City of Manila or in the files of the Archdiocese. No matter. Don Ramon immediately agreed to the figure I quoted even without a letter of request, without an architectural plan and without an estimate of the total funds needed. And when the checks came in, they added to much more than what he originally committed to give. Maraming salamat po, Don Ramon.
The same is true with our non-cash contributors. For example, four years ago prior to our major renovations and restorations, Bert and Sylvia Lina already gave the Cathedral the 14 Carillon Bells I spoke about earlier. However, as I was touring the cathedrals of Europe, I discovered that the best set of carillons was composed of 23 bells. So, when I returned home, I spoke with Bert and suggested, just suggested, that he add nine more bells to complete the 14 existing bells to 23.
But he remonstrated, “No, Ninong, I will not give nine bells. I will give a complete new set of 23 bells because, if I just add nine new ones, they may not be in tune with the existing 14. I must give the best to our Cathedral. Church bells are the voice of God. When they ring, they summon the faithful to the Church.” And so, he ordered a completely new set of computerized 23 Carillon Bells from the Netherlands, which he air freighted so they could arrive on time for their inauguration last December 11, 2014. Mabuhay po kayo, Commissioner Bert and Sylvia Lina.
This is the same story with all of you, our benefactors and donors, whom we are honoring tonight. Many of you gave without being asked. And many requested not to be identified, to be anonymous, because you said quite correctly that anyway our Lord knows. Indeed, your reward is better given in heaven than here on earth. But we would fail in our duty to our Lord if we did not also express our appreciation here on earth, as a preliminary to the grand appreciation you will receive when you shall one day finally knock at the heavenly door.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the appreciation and thanks you will receive today is only preliminary to the greater and final one waiting for you at the heavenly gate, when on that inevitable day, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, together with His Mother, Mary the Immaculate Conception, would greet you by spreading His divine arms, saying “Thank you, thank you for helping restore the Manila Cathedral. Well done on your temporary sojourn on earth. Welcome to your permanent home in heaven!” Alleluia!!!