“Uling balu mu at balu ku
Tatalnan ne'ing bukas
At ing bie ta maulaga ya uling mabie Ya.”
A united chorus of praise echoed the anniversary celebration of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) singing, “He holds the future and life is worth living just because He lives!” The gathering was attended by hundreds of people from different walks of life and various confessions of faith, yet together glorified God for His abounding grace and faithfulness.
At its special thanksgiving event last November 22 in San Fernando, Pampanga, PBS marked three grace-filled milestones in the Bible ministry: its 118th Anniversary, its 50th year of Bible translation partnership with the Roman Catholic Church, and the 100th Anniversary of the Pampango Bible. This three-fold celebration was filled with much rejoicing and thanksgiving of about 500 attendees including Kapampangan locals, esteemed guests, and PBS staff and leadership.
“There is unity in the Word of God. Not only has the Bible translation into Kapampangan helped bring God’s Word to Kapampangan homes, it has also helped keep the Kapampangan language very much alive,” says PBS Trustee and Bishop of Kalookan Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio David. He also highlighted that the translation partnership with the Roman Catholic Church since 1967 brought about the contemporary Bible translations, now available in 8 major languages and in over 20 minor languages.
He specially highlighted the strong years of partnership between PBS and the Roman Catholic Church saying, “In 1989, Pope John Paul II addressed representatives of the United Bible Societies (UBS) in the Vatican. He said, ‘It is with great joy that I take note of the spirit of ecumenical work and cooperation that prevails in your work. Today the Scriptures are increasingly known and understood. I am confident that UBS and the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate will foster the fraternal collaboration that ignites your efforts.’ Thank you very much PBS for the very fruitful and productive 50 years of partnership!”
Another tribute came from UBS Translation Consultant Rev. Dr. Edgar Ebojo, who gave a brief history of the Pampango Bible — known as the Ing Biblia (published in 1917) and the contemporary translation Ing Mayap A Balita Biblia (published in 1994). Afterwards, the Pampango Bible translators were named and duly honored. Present were Msgr. Gregorio Canlas, Dr. Vicente Catacutan, and relatives of Rev. Juan Macaspac and Rev. Arcadio de Ocera.
“We thank God for His Word that is available in the Philippines. We pray that there will be Bibles in all the mother tongues in the country,” says PBS President and Chairman and the National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches Bishop Noel Pantoja, who expressed much praise to God for the 118 strong years of the Bible ministry.
He also emphasized the importance of being firmly rooted in God’s Word and developing strategic partnerships to further advance the Bible Cause.
“The General Sherman Tree is 2,500 years old and over 350 feet tall. Something that huge must have an incredible root system that it can stand that tall. The roots are relatively shallow, going down 6-12 feet. Yet these trees do not fall over, withstanding flooding and fires. The root system is intertwined with other redwood trees. They are very close together and are dependent on each other for survival. Their roots are like an army of men and women standing and supporting each other. This is like the picture of the interconfessional fellowship of PBS. We are standing strong side by side. We all need each other. We all need to be really rooted in Christ and in the Word of Christ through these difficult times. If we are not rooted in Christ, we will easily stumble and fall when trials and difficulties come,” says Bishop Pantoja.
Representatives from both Catholic and Protestant groups also gave their greetings, namely from the Archbishop of San Fernando, Most Reverend Florentino G. Lavarias, D.D. and Pastor Rodel Ochengco of the Pampanga Gatekeepers Coalition. The celebration was also graced with local prized talents Mirabilia Dei Children’s Choir and Anak Bale-Balayan who both showcased a taste of the Kapampangan culture.
Guests and ministry partners likewise graciously expressed their thanksgiving. A local pastor from Candaba, Pampanga says, “I appreciated the beautiful servant-leadership of PBS. The Bible Society would not be here today without its dedicated people. I was challenged as a pastor to serve God more faithfully.”
In all these milestones, PBS gives back all the praises, all the honor, and all the glory to God and declares, “Praise Him for the mighty things He has done. Praise His supreme greatness!” (Psalm 150:2). Anchored in His grace, PBS will remain committed in its mission of Making the Bible Known towards its vision of A Transformed Filipino People through God’s Word. As PBS Trustee Dr. Lysander Rivera exhorts, “I encourage all Filipinos including those who belong to the generation Z to read the Bible regularly and if possible, daily, because it is in the Bible that we encounter the love of God. Hopefully it is also through the reading of the Bible that we can transform our society.”