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Ai-Ai and other Papal Awardees

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PAPAL AWARD – In the ‘50s, our seaside town Unisan (Quezon) was excited over the visit of Bishop Alfredo Obviar to confer a Papal Award on a prominent lady, Doña Irene Vera Cruz. Even the Catholic newspaper The Sentinel gave the event a one-page spread. Didn’t really know its significance, but elders explained the award came all the way from Rome, recognizing Doña Irene’s services and contributions to the Catholic Church. When she died she willed all her wealth to the diocese of Lucena, Quezon’s capital.

Much, much, much later, this columnist from Unisan (and Lucena and Quezon City) would be friends to other Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awardees, Danny Dolor and Ryan Caybyab, businessman-art patron and musical composer, respectively.

Danny would often say that a Papal Award does not mean one is holy and without sin. “Sino ba sa atin ang walang kasalanan? Pero tumutulong tayo sa simbahan at kapwa tao sa lubos ng ating makakaya.”

Danny’s mother, Doña Soledad Lirio Dolor, was also a Papal Awardee. Ditto his very dear friend, Imelda Ongsiako Cojuangco.

MOST WORTHY – Am very glad to know from colleague Jojo Gabinete that Ai-Ai de las Alas will be conferred the Papal Award, a recognition of her services and contributions to the Catholic Church.

Solemn Investiture is on November 11 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Novaliches, Quezon City, Ai-Ai’s parish. Leading the rites is Bishop Antonio Tobias, assisted by Fathers Erick Santos, Allan Samonte, and Michael Angelo.

No need to enumerate Ai-Ai’s acts of kindness and charity as Highspeed has written about them before. From way back, Ai-Ai has been noted for being a good person, beneath the funny demeanor is a good heart.

So to skeptics and hecklers, down with those eyebrows. Let’s all be happy for Ms. Martina Eileen “Ai-Ai” de las Alas.

STILL THE SAME – The Papal Award notwithstanding, Ai-Ai remains her funny old self, saying “Ako lang siguro ang Papal Awardee na may tattoo.”

“Puede pa akong mag-tangga?” Ai-Ai asks in jest, “Ang sagot sa akin shorts na lang.”

Ai-Ai felt she was “unworthy” to receive such a high award, but surmised, “Kung ano man ang plano sa sakin ng Diyos susundin ko.”

By the way, the Papal Award is not only for the rich and famous. Danny Dolor recalls that in Batangas, a simple woman who served the church and priest for years in humble tasks was given the Papal Award. But the high and the mighty who openly coveted the award were ignored by the Vatican.

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