Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J. on Bishop Francisco F. Claver: “He is an Igorot Jesuit bishop who build dikes”

Today is the 81st birthday of Fr. Badillo, so I visited him in the Jesuit Residence Infirmary. We were sitting as we customarily do, and chatted about many things: my talk on “Jesuits and Science” last Thursday at the School of Management building, my chat with Ambeth Ocampo and some faculty in the history department, Ambeth’s Secchi meteorograph, and Fr. Badillo’s missing articles on Jesuit scholastics and streets.

“Happy Birthday!” a voice shouted on the hallway outside the door of Fr. Badillo’s room. He was an old man with a four-cornered cane. Beside him is a male nurse helping him to walk.

Fr. Badillo waved his hand and said, “Thank you!”

When the old man turned to leave, Fr. Badillo cried out “Bishop! Bishop!” The old man stopped.

“Bishop,” Fr. Badillo said. “I want you to meet the Pope.”

I went to the old man and said, “Father, my name is Pope.” We shook hands.

Bishop Claver spoke nothing and turned a quizzical look at Fr. Badillo, as if saying, “Victor, you are joking again.” I went back to my chair.

“That was Bishop Claver,” Fr. Badillo said. “So you see that he has three legs. No, six legs.”

We laughed.

“Was he the one who built the pond near falls at the San Jose Seminary, Father? I asked. “I heard he made it as a place for retreats for the Jesuit seminarians.”

“Yes, he was the one,” Fr. Badillo said.  “He knew how to build the dikes because he is an Igorot.  The Igorots are really good at making dikes like those of the famous Rice Terraces in Ifugao.  They build dikes without cement.  What they do is that they carve the stones so that they snugly fit.”

“Just like the Incas of Peru,” I replied.  I listened to the talk of Dr. Enzo de la Fuente yesterday at the Manila Observatory on cloud forests.  He showed us some pictures of Inca ruins made of  huge, irregularly carved rocks stacked on top of each other without cement.  He also showed a picture of a llama behind him.

“You know, Bishop Claver’s father is the first Igorot with a surname of Claver.  Igorots don’t have surnames.  When Claver’s father became a convert to the Catholic Faith, he adopted the surname Claver.

“Bishop Claver was a Jesuit before he became a bishop. He also has a sister who became a founder of a religious congregation.”

“What congregation was it, Father?” I asked.

“I forgot the name,” Fr. Badillo said.

Bishop Claver was from the Bontoc Province, Philippines.  He was ordained priest of the Society of Jesus in 1961 at the age of 32.4.  He became a Prelate of Malaybalay (1969), a titular bishop of Nationa (1969), a bishop of Malaybalay (1962-1964), and the Vicar Apostolic of Bontoc (1995-2004). (