By Pebbles Mendoza
Boracay Sun News recently spoke with Father Bong about the worrying number of suicides on Boracay over the past few weeks. Since early August, there have been six people commit suicide, and so many more attempted efforts that fortunately have failed.
Many within the Boracay community, along with the Red Cross and the church, have reached out in a concerted effort to help those who are desperately in need of someone to share their worries and sorrows with.
Throughout the almost seven months enforced lockdowns, the majority of island residents have lost their jobs, been restricted in their movements, and their children haven’t been able to leave their homes or attend school classes. Being deprived of one’s freedom and livelihood has undoubtably contributed to the feelings of anxiety and depression. Some of these factors can probably be held responsible for the recent suicide problems, but Father Bong also expressed his fears of another worrying condition that has befallen parts of the island.
Father Bong echoed reports that we have heard from others that some parts of Boracay, Yapak in particular, has seen the alarming rise amongst some groups of youngsters in becoming members or believers in what the Father described as a Demonic Cult. Being a practiced exorcist, Father Bong has past experience in seeing what demonic possession can do to people - especially those that are already suffering as we have mentioned above. Many are already disturbed and worried about their current situations and what life may have instore for them. Often times, the uncertainty can become unbearable. “This can make people weak and vulnerable to outside evil sources.” Said Father Bong.
As at the time of this this writing, the most recent two suicides have been two young male friends. They committed suicide within a few days of one another, and Father Bong commented that he had been told that the second boy said that his friend (who had already committed suicide) visited him during the night and asked him to join him. Other friends who are reported fraternity, or group members (this is what Father Bong refers to as the demonic cult), speak openly about receiving such messages from their passed friends, and their willingness to commit such acts. In cases like this, it does not appear as an act of desperation, but more of a pact to commit such tragic incidents within their group. Father Bong went on to say. “The fear, not only within our congregation, but amongst most people, is that this cult will grow in numbers. We must ask that family virtues and beliefs can be restored to our youngsters. In today’s world they have many distractions that take them away from God. As parents and brothers and sisters, we can show understanding and love to bring them back into the fold – put them back in touch with God – and encourage them to fight off these demonic beliefs.”
Father Bong reminded me of the fact that when the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, they brought our catholic religion with them. Beforehand, many Filipinos offered prayers and gifts to their ancestors, sometimes even to trees or places where they believed many different gods lived. So part of the Filipino mindset in the past was of demonic type beliefs, those that went against what the Catholic Church stands for. This he believes, may in a small part be what is happening with the demonic cult of today that he refers to. A change in values and dropping back into practices of the past.
I asked Father Bong what we could do to help restore faith, and to put an end to these suicidal thoughts and demonic beliefs. “With faith, trust and effort, we can bring God back into the very heart of the family – to make Him the center of what we do and believe in. Help is there. We just need to embrace it. When evil approaches, pray to Nanay Maria (Mama Mary) to fight off the demons. Restore your faith in God.”
The Red Cross Boracay-Malay Chapter have launched a Helpline to give support to anyone who is depressed or having suicidal thoughts or tendencies. (288 9732 – 0917 981 5207 / 0921 451 0755) from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
And Father Bong reminds us that God is there to listen to us every minute of every day…
Never feel that you’re alone!
Father Pelermo G. Suganob (Father Bong) is the Assistant Parish Priest of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, Boracay.