Who is Pedro Calungsod?
1. What is the name of the Filipino who will be declared a saint on Oct. 21, 2012?
His baptismal name is “ Pedro ”. He may have taken his name from the saint of the day when he was born, like for example, from Saint Peter the Apostle on June 29.
His surname is variedly spelled in the manuscripts of his Spanish companions and contemporaries as “Calonsor”, “Calongsor”, “Calansor” and "Calangsor”.
The present version of the surname is “ Calungsod ”, with the accent falling on the “u” – “Calúngsod”.
The surname is of Visayan origin. It comes from the Visayan word “lúngsod” which means “town” or “citizenry”.
The Spaniards may have written the surname according to how they could pronounce it, that is, perhaps with some difficulty in enunciating the “ng” and the terminal “d” – Calonsor – or it may have been the old version of the surname.
2. Who was Pedro Calungsod ?
Pedro Calungsod was a teenage native of the Visayas region of the Philippines.
Very little is known about him. We do not even know where exactly in the Visayas he came from or who his parents were. He was just one of the boy catechists who went with some Spanish Jesuit missionaries from the Philippines, headed by Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores, S.J., to the Ladrones Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean in 1668 to evangelize the Chamorros.
In that century, the Jesuits in the Philippines used to train and employ young boys as competent catechists and versatile assistants in their missions.
The Ladrones at that time was part of the old Diocese of Cebu. Pedro worked with Fr. Diego in those islands from June 15, 1668 until April 2, 1672 when they were both killed by two natives on account of the Christian Faith.
3. Why can we not be certain of Pedro ’s exact provenance in the Visayas?
The Visayas is the group of several islands in the central Philippines, the largest of which are Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar.
There are no existing pertinent documents, like a baptismal record, that could serve as solid bases for identifying which island is the birthplace of Pedro in the Visayas.
The documents written by his companion missionaries simply identify him as an “indio bisaya”, that is, a Visayan native.
4. Would Pedro ’s surname help us make an inference about his birthplace in the Visayas?
There are three Visayan languages: Cebuano, which is spoken in Cebu, Bohol, southern Leyte and eastern Negros; Hiligaynon, which is spoken in Panay and western Negros; and Waray which is spoken in Samar and northern Leyte.
The term “lungsod” for “town” is Cebuano, while in Hiligaynon it is rendered as “banwa” and in Waray “bongto”. Nevertheless, we cannot surely say that Pedro was a Cebuano since there are Calungsod families in the Visayan islands of Panay and Leyte.
At the same time, we cannot verify if the Calungsod families had already migrated to Panay or Leyte during the time of Pedro.
5. Where in the Visayas are the Calungsod families densely found?
The Calungsod families are densely found in the Visayan towns of Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinunangan and Hinundayan in southern Leyte, and in Molo district of Iloilo City in Panay.
6. Could Pedro be from Ginatilan, Cebu?
By the fact that his surname is Cebuano, Pedro may well be from Ginatilan, Cebu.
Ginatilan was a very remote place in south-western Cebu during the time of Pedro.
If he came from there, it is not surprising that his exact provenance in the Visayas was somehow unknown especially to the Jesuits who had no mission station there.
7. But how did a boy from such a remote place come in contact with the Jesuit missionaries when there was no Jesuit mission station in that part of Cebu?
The nearest Jesuit mission station was in Tanay in eastern Negros, though just across the channel from Ginatilan.
It is interesting to note, however, that the first account we have about Pedro was written twenty-four days after his martyrdom by his companion missionary in Guam, Fr. Francisco Solano, who had worked in Negros since 1665 when Pedro would have been about ten years old. Moreover, on August 8, 1676 – four years after the death of Pedro – a “Rogatorial” process for the beatification of Fr. Diego Luís de San Vitores was opened in Cebu where two Jesuit priests made mention of Pedro: Fr. Jaime Bestart and Fr. Pedro de Casanova who was a companion missionary of Pedro in Guam for three years.
Both priests were the only ones in the documentations who made a more specific indication of Pedro’s age by saying that Pedro was only a niño – more or less 16 to 17 years old – when he was martyred. Nevertheless, both witnesses did not explicitly say that Pedro was from Cebu