Until his gruesome, cowardly slaughter, Father Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, PIME was treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) for more than seven years. Before that, he was already an active member of MISFI for more than a decade, as he has been totally immersed with the Lumad in Arakan and their plight since the 80′s.
With MISFI serving and unifying the three faiths (Moro, Christian, Lumad) in Mindanao, the immersion of Father POPS for more than three decades in the most depressed Lumad communities in Arakan and his endearing desire to eradicate illiteracy in the area was a living proof that Father POPS was more Filipino than most of us. There is not one community in North Cotabato that there is no Father POPS scholar. And almost all of them went back to their communities to immortalize Father POPS’ vision of empowering their communities.
The outrage for Father POPS’ murder was so reverberating that people from all walks of life converged to show their disgust, from the highly militarized area of Arakan where he was shot 10 times in the morning of October 17 to the entire area of Mindanao up to the countless islands in the Visayas and Luzon. The international community, especially the Italian populace and the Catholic flock were also shocked of such reign of impunity in this side of the country.
Even the Ambassador of Italy to the Philippines Luca Fornari defied his own travel advisory for Italians against going to Mindanao and attended Father POPS’ wake and funeral to acknowledge Father POPS’ contribution to the people of North Cotabato and the rest of Mindanao.
As she can also speak in Italian, Ms. Percinita J. Sanchez, MISFI Executive Director was privileged to personally thank Ambassador Fornari for his presence and share to him the immense contribution made by Father POPS to MISFI. As MISFI’s gesture of gratitude, “Justice for Pops” t-shirts were given for the ambassador and his wife. The Ambassador was very moved that Father POPS made great strides and touched so many lives in Mindanao and assisted in the development of MISFI. The Ambassador even personally invited Ms. Sanchez to see him when she visits Manila soon.
MISFI will surely miss Father POPS. His wit. His wisdom. His selflessness. His legacy.
As Father POPS’ wish that he be buried in a casket made from a very sturdy mahogany wood, one Mahogany tree may fall, but a thousand mahogany trees will emerge to take his place.