Manuel Peypoch, SJ

Published July 30, 2020, 10:55 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ



We are celebrating the death anniversary of  Fr. Peypoch today July22.  (Yesterday it was of Padre Pedro Poveda. Both of them, just because they were priests, were killed in republican Spain in the nineteen thirties. Fr. Peypoch was a Jesuit priest who taught in Manila in what is equivalent to our high school. (Fr. Pedro Poveda was a Diocesan priest who established the Institution Teresiana to help teachers in the public schools. They have a good school for girls in Manila. ) They were killed like a number of others just because they were priests. That was how the republican government of Spain hated the Church in the nineteen thirties. Should  somebody just identify them as priests, they were then taken for torture and killed.

                At the turn of the century about nineteen eight,  there was a boy who was taught at home to read and write.  He left his home in Sta. Cruz district in Manila and went to Intramuros, walked past the gate near San Juan de Letran and over to the other side of Intramuros towards the sea. He entered the halls of Ateneo de Manila and there he met a young priest. After a short time they both spontaneously got to like one another. The boy was my father and the priest was Fr. Manuel Peypch, SJ.  At that time the grades were Infima, Media, and Superior which led to Poetry and  Rhetoric. My father went through those years ending with a bachelor’s degree allowing him and his classmates to enrol in law school. Those were happy years building up a friendship.

Then news came that American Jesuits were taking over since the Ateneo now had to teach in English. The story was that the New York Jesuits were assigned to go to  India but the British government would not give them visas since most of them had Irish names and the Irish were in revolt against the British.  The Jesuit general thought it would be good for the Americans to go to the Philippines  while the Spaniards would go to India. This was a big sacrifice for the Spaniards since they already had developed schools  and missions here. It would be a fresh start in India. But as good soldiers the Spanish Jesuits packed up and moved.  Those who wanted to stay could.  Those who were reassigned to India could get a vacation in Spain before going to India. And this was when Fr. Peypoch left his beloved Filipinas and students. And was subsequently murdered in Spain.

                I know my father kept a correspondence with his beloved teacher, Fr. Peypoch, so he was devastated when he was murdered. It was war time in Spain and my father was sending care packages to Spain to a brother of Fr. Peypoch. I subsequently I met this brother of Fr. Peypoch when I happened to be passing by Spain. He had stories of the difficullties they had at that time.

Sooner or later as a martyred priest he would be declared as a saint. (Pedro Poveda has already been declared a saint for the altar.) There were two Philippine Jesuits who were murdered in Spain at that time.

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