Quezon City. The Award originally the Peypoch Award, is named after a humble Jesuit priest who came to the Philippines in 1907 and taught Literature at the Ateneo de Manila for seventeen years. Father Manuel Peypoch was never elevated to high office. His tasks were humble. In his spare time, he took care of prisoners in Bilibid as their chaplain. He also found time to write, he was editor of the leaflet Hoja Azul and was a member of the editorial staff of Cultural Social.
Father Peypoch left the Philippines in 1942 and was assigned to the Jesuit Retreat House in Manresa. There, in Calders near Manresa, on 30 July 1936, he was killed by the communists because he was a priest.
The memory of this humble and simple priest and dedicated religious, and of the many men and women like him has prompted the Ateneo to create an award in his honor. It is intended to honor the clergy, men and women of religious congregations, both as a recognition of the service they have rendered to the Church and the Filipino people, and as a reminder to our students that there are men and women here in our country who dedicate their lives wholly and unselfishly for the good of their neighbor.
In 1988, the Peypoch Award was renamed BUKAS PALAD Award in memory of Fr. Manuel Peypoch, S.J. from the Filipino version of the Prayer for Generosity of St. Ignatius, “Turuan mo akong maging Bukas- Palad
CITATION – Rhoel D. Gallardo, CMF
Of his sufferings and eventual death we had graphic descriptions and sufficient documentation. The nation followed the unfolding narrative with shock and sorrow as the mutilated body was transferred to the San Antonio Maria Claret Parish in Zamboanga City, and then ot a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Castillejos, Zambales. On May 9, the body was brought to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish of the Claretians in Quezon City. An evening mass was celebrated and presided over by Cardinal Sin, and concelebrated by six other bishops and more than two hundred priests. Thousands of people also attended and paid homage, to a “martyr of peace.”
On the surface, Fr. Rhoel D. Gallardo, CMF was just a casualty of an ongoing war, an innocent victim int he crossfire between a particularly vicious terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf, and government troops. His death at the age of thirty-four, because of the horrible nightmare that some parts of Mindanao have become for the rest of the country, is unfortunate. Like most people, his life was ordinary and unspectacular. But it is not his horrible death that will be remembered, but the way he fulfilled his role as a shepherd of his flock, true to his commitment as a missionary priest.
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 is proud to confer its BUKAS-PALAD AWARD on Fr. Rhoel D. Gallardo, CMF