Apr 19
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A flair for exorcism

Author: The Daily Tribune
Column: Life

Father Jose Francisco C. Syquia, a theology professor at the San Carlos Seminary, is no ordinary priest. At 39, he is the country’s premiere expert on exorcism, a legitimate profession and a controversial subject in the Roman Catholic church. Father Syquia and his tough flair for exorcism help people against demonic infestation through faith.

“There is no course offered in exorcism. It is something handed down in time by a practicing exorcist to his trained successor,” Fr. Syquia clarified this before going further.

Fr. Syquia likened the “handing down” to the special right of a Samurai, passing on his vested code to his most trusted paduan, a position priests his age seriously train for years at the Vatican in Rome. Though not everyone is accorded the right to practice exorcism.

“You have to have the passion to pursue this career. You have to train hard for it,” he said.

The determination, whether you have what it takes or not, comes later. The soft-spoken priest, clad in a black robe and cravat, hinted that his work (or passion) requires “strength, wisdom and faith” to fight evil, which feeds on life by corrupting the weakest of human mind, heart and spirit. Lack of faith is one identifiable element why this phenomenon persists.

“There are many people like that today. Some openly accept evil not knowing it is dangerously being lured by the devil,” he said.

One of Father Syquia’s earliest encounters came when a woman sought help to correct the apparent possession of her daughter, a young girl exhibiting multiple characters and speaking in strange voices.

“She was very strong, and she was obviously not her normal self,” he explained.

He was then a young, inexperienced novice studying to be a priest. Seeing a girl violently struggling convinced him the devil exists, and that it must be stopped!

Victims of demonic possession demonstrate extraordinary strength. They are delusional and violent. “The manifestations are there, and (demon) possessions are determined by investigating a victim’s lifestyle. They must be medically examined. This would tell you something about its possible source (or the person’s health condition),” he said.

This seems more scientific than religious. Fr. Syquia insisted, “We have to be very careful in determining whether a victim is mentally or psychologically ill. It is strictly only after this (medical) diagnosis that we take into consideration possession.”

The priest is able to figure or see the devil’s presence by simply praying over suspected victims, a process Fr. Syquia jokingly offered this writer hoping to make clear his point. I declined and opted to read his book instead. The result of Father Syquia’s encounters or exorcisms, whether with ghosts, dwende, engkanto or aswang, prompted him to write Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult, a page-turner recounting the priest’s experiences with the paranormal. It also explains the Catholic church’s role or its firm policy on exorcism.

A tough call for Rounin’s cast

The making of Rounin, ABS-CBN’s boldest summer fantasy teleserye since Ang Panday, was difficult. Searching people for the cast was like finding a needle in a haystack.

“The fight scenes, which required us to do different sword fights while dangling on invisible chords, combine wushu and muai tai to give fights a fresh flare. We all trained for this because the roles strictly demanded it,” recalled Luis Manzano of his elaborate scenes, executed inside an abandoned building.

Rounin, which is linked with John Frankenheimer’s film Ronin, is a distant world of magical powers inhabited by gifted warriors who live by an ancient code. It is typical of Chinese martial arts movie romanticized to give it a Pinoy telenovela flare.

Rounin, led by Diether Ocampo and Manzano, also features ABS-CBN’s major stars (Angelica Jones, Shaina Magdayao and Nikki Gil). It is a launchpad for aspiring ABS-CBN talents wanting to make it big like Sarah Geronimo or Jericho Rosales.

Rounin hits primetime Pinoy television late this April. Watch out for it!

Why is PIA funding a morning show?

While ABS-CBN and GMA networks dominate the TV ratings war, the three remaining government-owned channels—RPN-9, NBN-4 and IBC-13—bonded together to produce the country’s first-ever shared breakfast show, One Morning.

The daily show is co-anchored by the three channels’ top news, entertainment and lifestyle hosts led by broadcaster Veronica Baluyot-Jimenez (NBN-4), Aljo Bendijo (RPN-9), Atty. Zorah Andam (IBC-13) and Aryana with singers Jimmy Bondoc and Paolo Santos (RPN-9). It combines news, business, technology and sports, features.

A PIA source hinted the project, which expects to generate a fair share of TV advertising profit from production merging and market competition, is being funded by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in time for the May election. How much from government resources did the PIA spend for the project? Does the PIA have the legal authority to produce a major television show that merges the technical resources of not just one but three government-owned television stations for a major income generating project?

Hot summer movies

John Travolta (The Punisher) and William H. Macy (E.R.) lead a pack of aging misfits in Wild Hogs, a comic road movie that can raise Jimmy Hendrix from the grave. Twice as bad as Billy Crystal’s City Slicker, the group takes on a disastrous motorcycle road trip when they are better off benched and trading foul sarcasm.

The Reaping, a modern take on The Exorcist, starts in Haven, a laidback, swampy town mysteriously infested with Biblical plagues (like water turning to blood, boils and death of first-born). A young scientist specializing in denouncing religious miracles is called in to put the catastrophic issue to rest.

Stomp the Yard captured the interest of young Americans for its aggressive take on the trippy ’80s Breakdance phenomenon. The story is typical of American movies with gangs where black teens are victims of deadly gang misdemeanors. Dance and the will to win are the only way out. Must see at Ayala cinemas.

Source: The Daily Tribune