This year’s recipient of the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Awards is Fr. Peter Geremia, a 78 year old Italian missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (Pontificium Institutum pro Missionibus Exteris).
His works in promoting the rights and uplifting the living conditions of both marginalized and indigenous people in Mindanao has earned him the title of “Living Saint of the Lumads”.
Fr. Geremia has been here in the Philippines for 47 years already. He relocated to the Philippines in 1972 at the height of the Marcos dictatorship and was initially assigned in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and then in Tondo, Manila.
Early in his service, Fr. Geremia supported and fought for the needs of minority groups beginning with informal settlers during the La Tondena strike. He also stood up against the Manero brothers who committed atrocities against the people in North Cotabato associated with the NPA which also resulted to the death of a fellow priest Tullio Favali.
The priest after surviving various threats on his life founded the Tribal Filipino Program and Tri-People campaign.
His group spearheaded efforts to elevate living conditions of indigenous tribes who were deprived of ancestral lands. They also sought out the solidarity between the Lumads, Muslims and Christians living in the area. He hardships and persecution as well as several fabricated criminal cases to stop him and derail their mission.
Fr. Peter Geremia is also the recipient of the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Award and currently the President of the Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio Foundation, Inc.
He was awarded earlier today through a simple program held at the Alfonso Sycip Executive Lounge in RCBC Plaza.
Awarding the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Award (STCA) trophy and a cash grant of 1M Pesos were STCA Chair Jerrold Ong, JCI President Nino Namoco, AY Foundation Chairman Mrs. Helen Y. Dee and Hon. Ramon Bagatsing, Jr.
The Saint Teresa of Calcutta Awards is one of the most celebrated award giving bodies in the country. The award is intended to focus public attention and confer recognition on those who, like Saint Teresa, have dedicated a significant portion of their lives in the service of the “poorest of the poor” and have served, and shall continue to serve, as an inspirational, living example to the world.
At 78, Fr. Geremia is still determined to spread the culture of peace in Mindanao.
“Kung may KAPAYAPAAN, lahat ay ligtas.”
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