The Franciscan Builder: Fr. Ramon Caviedas
October 29, 2006 is the 88th death anniversary of Fr. Ramon Caviedas, a Franciscan friar from Spain. The Holy Trinity parish of Balic-balic has the rare privelege of knowing the story and having a photograph of the parish priest responsible for building the Sampaloc cemetery.
Fr. Caviedas was 69 years old when he died in the Franciscan house at San Francisco del Monte. He was buried the next day (October 30, 1918). Interesting enough, Fr. Caviedas could have died in Spain but he chose to return to the Philippines after the departure of many Spanish friars during the trying years of the outbreak of the Philippine revolution. For his homecoming to Manila, he left Barcelona, together with 11 other Franciscans, on May 25, 1907 and arrived in Manila, June 27, 1907 or almost 33 years after he first arrived in Manila when he was still a sub-deacon. What made Fr. Caviedas decide to return to the country that he had a served for almost 20 years?
Image shown of Fr. Ramon Caviedas (courtesy of Fr. Cayetano Sanchez, ofm, Franciscan Archives, Spain).
Fr. Ramon Caviedas was born on February 8, 1849 in Yepes, Toledo, Spain. He entered the Franciscan noviatiate on May 6, 1864 and on May 2, 1869, left the port of Cadiz, Spain (together with 16 other Franciscans missionaries) in the a frigate named Cervantes and bound for the islands of the Philippines. They arrived in Manila on August 20, 1869.
He was assigned as parish priest of Santa Ana, Manila and occupied the post May 31, 1873. By May 27, 1882, Fr. Ramon Caviedas moved to take care of the 7,000 inhabitants of Sampaloc, Manila. Fr. Pedro A. Flores, Provincial of the Franciscans of the Province of San Gregorio Magno, notified the Archbishop of Manila of the transfer of Fr. Caviedas in a letter dated June 12, 1882.
A few months after his transfer to Sampaloc, the cholera epidemic of 1882 broke out in Manila. It was the memory of the lack of space for burying the dead the led Fr. Caviedas and seven town officials of Sampaloc to petition the City Manila on March 10, 1884 for permission to build a new cemetery on the hills of Balic-Balic. Fr. Caviedas got the needed permission and by 1890, Sampaloc had a new cemetery.
Fr. Caviedas was also responsible for rebuilding the Venerable Orden Tercera church in Bustillos which was destroyed during the earthquake of 1880. In 1888, he was elected Provincial Definer and Secretary. On May 17, 1894, he was assigned as parish priest of San Pablo de los Montes. It was during his stay at San Pablo that Fr. Caviedas experienced the sorrow of parishioners plagued by the ravages of smallpox. The parishioners lighted candles in the church altar with petitions of mercy and safety. After San Pablo, Fr. Caviedas moved to Sariaya Quezon on June 5, 1897 and where, with the outbreak of Philippine revolution, he was forced to leave Sariaya and return to Spain in 1898.
Almost 9 years later, Fr. Caviedas returned to the Philippines. Ironically, for the friar who built the Sampaloc cemetery with 40 niches reserved for the Franciscan friars, Fr. Caviedas was buried in a borrowed niche from the Tertiaries instead of the Franciscan niche at La Loma. We celebrate the memory of Fr. Caviedas without whom there would be no sacred ground on the hills of Balic-balic. He built the sacred ground for the dead which, in time, became the sacred ground for the living.