June 22, 2024

The Schools of Living Tradition (SLT) was conceived by the late Bishop Francisco F. Claver, SJ.
Bishop Claver was fondly called Bishop Cisco among his Jesuit colleagues, Bishop Ikoy among his friends, and Bishop Claver by the Bontoc-Lagawe lay and clergy.
Bishop Claver was the first Igorot priest in the Jesuit congregation and the first Igorot Jesuit bishop who incarnated his being a doctor of anthropology, philosophy, and doctor of divinity in his life as a priest, bishop, and as an Igorot.
One of the many values he incarnated that touched the hearts and souls of people all over the world was his honesty coupled with justice as a disciple and servant of Jesus.
When one hears or reads about Bishop Claver, cultural and gospel values of honesty and justice will immediately surface. These values had been influencing lives, families, schools, and institutions to holiness especially in the church and the government.
In 2002, I had the better opportunity to be immersed with the life and priesthood of Bi-shop Claver when he brought me to Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
It was a gesture of a caring father to bring and accompany his freshly ordained deacon to the Paul Institute of Liturgy (PIL) in Malaybalay to learn more about liturgy and music.
During breaktime from the institute, Bi-shop Claver will fetch me and tag me along his seminars around Mindanao. I recall the speaking engagements where I have to introduce him. He will say before his lecture or speech, “I thought the introduction will last longer so I will shorten my message and lecture.”
I am grateful to Bishop Claver for the trust and confidence he saw in my talents that continually inspire me to write indigenous songs for the liturgy and more when he immersed his hands correcting the lyrics.
I recall as well the time when introducing him as the “Father of inculturation in the Philippines” but he said, “I am not. Fr. Anscar Chupungco. OSB perhaps is the father of inculturation in the Philippines. I maybe for Northern Luzon.” It was such a humble and honest reaction.
Bishop Claver had a simple definition of inculturation, the dialogue of our way of life with the Holy Spirit. It is not a sheer dialogue between peoples but more importantly with the Holy Spirit. Hence, there is a great need for people to discern.
Inculturation therefore is the work of the Holy Spirit incarnated in the wedding of culture and faith and vice versa. The gospel values are seen intermeshing well with cultural values.
We cannot deny that our culture has elements that are not actually helping our growth and they serve even as obstacles to faith maturity and human development.
There are negative and bad facets of culture that needed to be modified if not rejected. We have to admit that there are cultural practices that suppress freedom, curtail justice, bring people away from God, abuse people, impoverish families, and even condone injustices.
We also have many positive faces of culture and many cultural traditions that affirm our spirituality, identity, and dignity. These cultural elements must be persevered and be generated today and in the future. We call this process as inculturation.
We remain as indigenous peoples and yet Christians. We are Christians and yet Igorots.
In one of the quality conversations with Bishop Claver, he mentioned about the danger of our indigenous culture that may erode in the passing of years and the fast movement of materialism.
We cannot stop the spread of other worldviews, as well the fast modernization of the communities. Looking at the material culture and the traditions whose right only belongs to the old people, logic will spell culture’s fate to deterioration and natural death.
I strongly agree with Bishop Claver when personally, as a kid of the 70s, I was and so with other kids were deprived from beating the gongs around the “ato” and for the young girls deprived from dancing. Material culture, place of culture, faces of culture belong only to the elders.
Bishop Claver saw the plight of the Bontoc culture and other cultures of the province. He then conceived of other venues and avenues to let culture thrive. Hence, the birth of SLT. He conceived the Catholic schools to generate the culture for today and tomorrow.
Be blessed more on Holy Week.
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