I wish to take exception to Herdy La. Yumul’s column titled “Utlegged”, published in the other week’s issue of your respectable newspaper. While I support the young writer, who happens to be my son, in all of his undertakings, his rather harsh commentary on Bishop Sergio Lasam Utleg is something I do not approve of. In fact, I found myself weeping a lot because of the grief and agony the article gave me.
As a church volunteer, I have always known Bishop Utleg as an honorable person and a respectable church leader. He is humble and kind, caring and nurturing. I appreciate very much that he sacrificed his whole life in the service of God’s people. I, my family, and many other churchgoers attest to his vast contributions in nurturing the spiritual lives of his constituents, and in helping uplift the lives of the poor and the oppressed. No doubt, he is well loved and well admired by his flock.
Our priests are not perfect; they are humans, too. But my son’s attacks on them, which he claims are “out of compassion,” went overboard and hurt the feelings of many of us who look up to them. This I regret.
My son has written negatively about the Church and its hierarchy on several occasions in the past three years, but Bishop Utleg, ever understanding and level-headed, has always kept his cool, and manifested his magnanimity and wisdom by taking all the blows graciously, the way a real follower of Christ should. This is no reason, however, for Herdy to go on a rampage with his excessively critical essays. Though my son is truly passionate and sincere in his writings, an observation made by Bishop Utleg himself, he does rub some people the wrong way.
I wish to believe that, as a mother, I was not lacking in reminders and advice. I have talked to Herdy many times about this, but he is firm and resolute. While I respect your paper and my son’s freedom of the press and right to free speech, it is the duty of any well-meaning Catholic to defend the Church when carelessly attacked and her leaders discredited, and so I write this humble letter.
I wish Bishop Utleg well and thank him profusely for his selfless service to the Christian faithful of the Diocese of Laoag.
Lourdes L. Yumul
(Your karikna’s reply: I thank the letter writer, who happens to be my mother, for the generous sharing of rikna and nakem. I appreciate that she came out in public and availed of this avenue of free expression. The Ilocos Times is always open for the reactions of readers, but the Church leaders never took the opportunity to explain their side on issues that disturb and perplex, not only me, but a great majority of their disoriented flock. Apparently, the good bishop’s strategy is just to ignore any negative feedback and charge it to our people’s poor memory. And so I continue to write, so our people will not forget, so our people will continue to be vigilant. I regret that some people feel hurt by my essays, but I stand by my humble opinion. Both truth and lies hurt, but truth hurts more, and I assure everyone perpetration of lies is not one of my many vices. At any rate, I would always love to be proven wrong. Inspired by Jesus Christ’s exhortation to the daughters of Jerusalem in Luke 23:28, I say, “Daughters of Laoag, do not weep for him; weep, instead, for yourselves and your children.”)