Ex-Lingayen Archbishop Cruz dies of COVID-19; 92-year-old survives

Published August 26, 2020, 10:05 AM

by Leslie Ann Aquino & Glazyl Masculino

Former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and retired Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz passed away on Wednesday due to multiple organ failure caused by critical COVID-19 infection. He was 85. 


In a statement, Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the prelate died at 6:45 a.m. at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City. 

“Following health protocols, his mortal remains will be cremated immediately,” he said. 

Villegas said the cremated remains will be brought to the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Dagupan City where the Catholic faithful may pay their respects to the late archbishop on August 27 from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. 

Masses will be celebrated by the diocesan and religious clergy of Lingayen and Dagupan the whole day, he said. 

The funeral Mass will be held on August 28, Friday, at 9 a.m. also at the cathedral. Cruz’s remains will be laid to rest at the Santuario de San Juan Evangelista right after the Mass. 

Villegas said in adherence to prevailing health protocols, only the “priests and bishops, together with the Archbishop’s family, will be in attendance at the funeral Mass.” 

“We encourage the Catholic faithful to follow the liturgical rites on social media livestream,” he said. Born on November 17, 1934 in Balanga, Bataan, Cruz received his seminary training at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary, and further theology studies at the Lateran University. 

He was ordained priest in 1962 and became a bishop in 1976. He was the first Filipino rector of San Carlos Seminary of the Archdiocese of Manila. 

Cruz was first assigned as Auxiliary Bishop of Manila until 1978, then as Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga from 1978-1988, and later as Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan from 1991-2009. 

The prelate served as CBCP President from 1995 to 1999. In 2007, Cruz tendered his resignation and it was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. 

92-year-old COVID-19 survivor

In Bacolod City, a 92-year-old woman, considered the oldest survivors of COVID-19 in Negros Occidental, is bringing hope and courage to everyone amid the struggle to fight the pandemic. 

Antonina Gargoles of Barangay Saraet, Himamaylan City, conquered the disease without expert medical attention at any hospital, as she recovered at home just with the help of her family. 

She has since become a source of inspiration in her village and the province, as she showed how, despite her old age, she was able to remain strong and hopeful in her battle against the deadly viral disease. 

News of Gargoles recovering from COVID-19 was shared on Facebook by Dr. Kaye Marie Yap, who is also a barrio doctor in the city. 

According to Yap, Gargoles contracted the virus on July 23. Yap said Gargoles suddenly felt too weak, febrile, and was suffering from difficulty in breathing when they visited her on August 6. 

The elderly lady also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Yap said she advised Gargoles’ family to bring her to a tertiary hospital. 

However, they refused, as they wanted to take care of her, considering her old age and bedridden status. Yap said they had to concede and decided to just provide her with medicines, and monitored her from time to time. Gargoles took her medicines diligently with the help of her daughter and grandson, Yap said. 

“She was in good hands, under the care of her kind and loving family,” she added. 

Two days after she started her medication, her condition started to improve, eventually leading to her full recovery. 

Her repeated swab test result came out negative, with no symptoms, according to Yap. 

Yap shared on social media that she considered Gargoles as their inspiration in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Himamaylan Mayor Raymund Tongson said Gargoles brought them hope, strength, and courage in these trying times.