Victoriano Pascual, SJ

Published July 23, 2020, 11:11 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


Some Philippine Province Jesuits have colourful backgrounds. One of them was Victoriano Pascual, a Spaniard who was of the short and swarthy kind. He first came to the Philippines in the late eighteen hundreds as a sergeant in the Spanish Army. He was a seminarian but at that time the ruling republicans did not exempt seminarians from conscription, the quinta. As a Sergeant, he ruled a big town in Batangas. And he once boasted to my sick mother that he had written more love letters to more Spanish girls than she could imagine. This was true because the rank and file of the Spanish army at that time did not know how to read or write.

He was subsequently captured by the Filipino insurgents during the revolution and served as a servant in a prominent Filipino family, the Francisco family. When he was repatriated to Spain, he entered the Jesuit order and asked to be sent back to the Philippines. (The Jesuits define themselves as sinners but called to propagate the love of God.) Sargento Pascual was my favourite Jesuit. He baptized me as a baby.

In Manila he worked teaching catechism and giving Ignatian retreats. One of his favored expressions learned from the American Jesuits was “You are a pain in the neck.” (It was probably more colorful than that but someone toned it down for him.) At one time he was accused of some irregularity and was sent to Dapitan in northern Mindanao as an exile. His superiors found out later that he had nothing to do with the brouhaha. And he was recalled back to Manila. I remember his return for I was in the party that welcomed him at the Muelle de la Industria.  It was memorable because I was then an eight-year-old boy. And someone took me by the arms and swung me over the waters of the Muelle.

Sargento Pascual continued his work as if nothing happened. He was popular among  the Spanish-speaking inhabitants of Manila before the war. When my mother got very sick, I was in Cebu studying Philosophy. So the provincial superior asked me to come to Manila where my mother was dying. The Superior gave me permission to stay with my mother but to report to La Ignaciana by evening. When I arrived in La Ignaciana in Sta. Ana, I met Sargento Pascual and he asked me why I was in La Ignaciana. It was already late in the evening when Sargento Pascual met me. He considered himself acting superior so he ordered me back home where my mother was dying. The next day when I saw the superior, Fr. Kennally, he told me to stay home.

In 1947 I met Sargento Pascual in Madrid where his superiors thought he would be happy. But that was not the case. He could not stand the winter of Madrid. Once his superiors knew this, he was sent back to Mania  where he continued his work of giving retreats in La  Ignaciana with Spanish stalwarts like Hermano Llull.

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