Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Goodbye, St Paul Chapel, Goodbye. You remain in my heart a heritage forever.

Abe V Rotor

This pre-war St Paul Chapel QC of Greco-Roman design was rebuilt from ruins after World War II. It occupied the whole second floor of the north wing of the original building complex. In the late nineties, the chapel and the building it occupied were totally demolished, and replaced with a theater of contemporary design.

No trace of the chapel or the building itself is left for pilgrimage, specially to those who know it as a special place of prayer - seat of ordination, retreat, first communion, wake and obituary, baptism - above all, home of the early Paulinian sisters, their formation house.

Sad but historically significant to remember is the fact that the chapel served as bastion of hope and determination when all around during the war were mass incarceration and execution, torture, interrogation, and evacuation. The campus remained the rest of the Japanese occupation as a concentration camp, in the like of Hitler's concentration camps in Europe at that time.

Came the final assault in 1945 when the Allied Forces forced the Japanese to surrender. It was nightmare on the campus, in fact the whole Manila with more than 100,000 killed. Soon the whole country liberated. Surrender Japan did only when two atomic bombs were dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands, mostly innocent civilians.

Peace was restored but the world was never truly at peace since then, for man has demonstrated his capability not only to kill his enemy, but to erase his own race on earth. It is in this era I first entered this chapel to pray. On this holy ground I walked and taught young Paulinians for fifteen years. ~

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