03 July 2009

25th Anniversary of 'Negros Nine'

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the 'Negros Nine'. The Nine included three priests and six laymen, leaders in their mga Kristianong Katilingban, Basic Christian Communities. They were falsely charged with the murder of Mayor Pablo Sola of Kabankalan, a murder for which the New People’s Army (NPA) announced they were guilty. Father Vicente Dangan, now deceased, was a priest of the Diocese of Bacolod. The area where the Columbans worked at the time is now the Diocese of Kabankalan and it was in St Francis Xavier Cathedral that we had a special Mass yesterday. The main celebrant was Columban Father Brian Gore. Bishop Patrick A. Buzon SDB of Kabankalan presided.

The Negros Nine episode made a household name of Father Brian Gore in his native Australia as it did of the late Fr Niall O’Brien in Ireland. He later became the founding editor of Misyon in 1988. I took over from him in 2002. Father Niall died in 2004.

The July-August issue of Misyon contains a number of articles to mark the occasion. Father Gore tells us how the legacy of the Negros Nine continues in The Negros Nine Live On.

Mrs Nomy Muhal, whose husband Conrado was one of the six laymen, shares her memories of the event in Faith of a Woman. There are photos above and below of Nomy visiting her husband in jail, their eldest daughter Cecille still a toddler. There is also a recent photo of Nomy.

Cecille, one of the two daughters of Conrado and Nomy at the time, recalls her visits to her father in jail when she was a toddler in A ‘Negros Nine Baby’. Cecille acquired two more sisters after her father’s release. Sadly, he never lived to see his four lovely daughters grow up. Cecille, now a nurse, is on the left in the photo below.

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