Quezon City. “For striving to be the ideal Claretian priest by accepting life-threatening missions; for courageously and relentlessly working for the least of our brethren, especially in his work in the blighted areas of Mindanao as a shepherd of the flock; for being a true witness to what it meant to be a good man and a good priest even as he sought to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation in these trying times,” the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) conferred posthumously on Fr. Rhoel D. Gallardo, CMF the “Bukas Palad” Award last July 25, 2001 at the Rev. Henry Lee Irwin, SJ Theatre, ADMU, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. The award was given during the university’s Special Academic Convocation where they confer traditional university awards.
This is the third time, the Bukas Palad was bestowed on the Claretian Missionaries in the Philippines. (See side-bar story on Bukas Palad Award) in 1998, the Ateneo recognized the contribution of the Claretian Missionaries to the Philippine Church after fifty years of missionary presence, particularly Fr. Domingo Moraleda, CMF who was its Provincial Superior for twelve years. Last year, our missionaries in East Timor, including Fr. Ric Salomon, CMF, who is still in critical condition, were among the “Heroic Filipino priests, Brothers and Nuns in East Timor” honored.
Fr. Rhoel’s martyrdom more than a year ago in Basilan was distinguished because of the manifold meanings it provide us as citizens, Christians and Claretian Missionaries. Fr. Felimon Libot, CMF, Provincial Vicar and Econome, who received the award on behalf of the Claretians, together with the parents of Fr. Rhoel, Mr. Dominador and Raquel Gallardo, said in his response to the citation that the award was a tribute to an eloquent death of a quiet and unassuming brothe