Eulogy for Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ by Genie Lorenzo

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Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ

In this coming Feast of All Souls Day on November 2, 2015, we remember the death of Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ last October 26, 2014. Several eulogies about him have been published here before in Ateneo Physics News written by several people: (1) Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila University, (2) Jose Aguilar, MD, Vice-President of the Astronomical League of the Philippines, and (3) Dr. James Bernard Simpas, Chair, Department of Physics, Ateneo de Manila University. To this list of eulogy writers, we shall add Ms. Genie Lorenzo, Researcher at the Urban Air Quality / Instrumentation Technology Development of Manila Observatory.

EULOGY FOR FR. VICTOR BADILLO, SJ

by Genie Lorenzo

Fr. Badillo was giving a short talk when I first met him. He was talking about astronomy to over a hundred people at the Rizal Technological University. Soon I began working at Manila Observatory, at the same place as he was, and I was very happy to be in the same compound. Sometimes I would see him walking up the concrete incline from his office building up the observatory’s driveway. And sometimes he would drive out in the weekends for stargazing activities.

One early evening, he showed us Saturn. I was hooked.

But his stargazing activities were cut short when he had to go to the hospital. His doctors advised him to stay at the Jesuit infirmary and place his feet up on the pillow while in bed to relieve the swelling in his legs. His assignment to the Jesuit Infirmary lasted for 10 years.

He left his telescopes and his patio chair. He left the picturesque view of the Marikina valley to the East and the heavens up above. He left the observatory.

But we never left him in limbo. We would visit him at the Jesuit Residence infirmary on Christmas and sing him carols. On his birthday, we would give him a cake and a candle to blow. On more regular days, we told him stories of our everyday life. And he would share stories and his jokes, too.

One day at his infirmary room, he said he wanted to write a book on science and society. Later, he published some articles in the Manila Observatory website entitled, Taste of Science. He still wanted to pursue a study on tsunami warning, remembering the report he did on the Moro Gulf Tsunami which killed many when it hit in the evening of August 17, 1976.

After being inspired by Pedro Calungsod, the sacristan and missionary catechist who was martyred in Guam together with a Jesuit priest, Fr. Badilo began to write those daily emails to me, to you, and to everyone we know. On October 21, 2012, Pedro Calungsod was canonized as saint.

Now, the stars are becoming more familiar too to me, after sitting outdoors in the evenings in awe at how I was so blessed to be in that same spot Fr. Badillo had been while he viewed the heavens. Even while he was still in the infirmary, he kept reminding us about the visibility of Jupiter, the coming solar and lunar eclipse, and the transit of Venus. Because of his reminders, I tried to view these astronomical events from the observatory’s parking lot, so that more people can see from the telescope. (When are we going to get that new telescope?)

After my visits, he would send me emails, asking me to take photos of the fire trees, the Immaculate Conception statue, and Jose Rizal´s sculpture. One day he took a photo of himself with the flame tree flower I had given him on his barong, like a corsage. I was so touched. Perhaps he had also asked you the same favors he asked us. I think somehow we all contributed to those daily email posts he made and so have helped touched the lives of others as well through him. And he must have exchanged as much enthusiasm with you, too, in whatever interested you, because he was really a great listener who could engage anyone in any topic.

Fr. Badillo would wear his MO hat whenever he visited him. And he kept reminding us of the year 2015 (and that will be in a couple of months), when the Observatory will be celebrating its 150th year. One day he surprised us all by standing up for a photo, even though he was already weak. That made us all very happy. He inspired us to keep the faith even with our own struggles.

Several times in the last two years or so, I have gone to him unannounced, and cried my heart out. And he just sat there in silence, with a comforting look. His prayers must be strong, as I always felt relieved after each visit with him.

In September, I dropped by for a visit, but he said he could not talk because of coughs and colds. I knelt down beside him and asked for a blessing. He placed his hand on my head. He later apologized in an email for not being able to talk. I told him I would visit again soon.

Two weeks after, he was hospitalized and then discharged. But by then he did not want to accept our visits. He was brought back to the hospital after over a week and was admitted into the emergency room and the Intensive Care Unit. I visited him in the ICU and I relayed the usual news about the recent lunar eclipse, the Orionids meteor shower, and about the staff at MO who always work so hard. In the ICU, we had to wear a green hospital gown that was tapered at the wrists, and a very tight face mask such that we could hardly breathe, because Fr. Badillo was at very high risk to infection.

The first time I met Fr. Badillo he was in front of a large crowd talking about astronomy. He was inspired and inspiring. And I remember that day each time I look up at the sky. The last time I saw Fr. Badillo he was in a solitary room. He could not talk because there was a tube in his mouth and he would maybe run out of breath. He nodded when I asked if he would like to say the rosary. And we prayed together with his nurse.  I was reminded of how small he was compared to all those monster machines around that were sustaining whatever earthliness remained in him. This time Fr. Badillo was inspiring me to look to heaven all around and in our lives and gaze with all humility at all the goodness of our Lord, who was his inspiration.

Ang daya mo, Fr. Badillo. You have left us. Perhaps you are now in heaven and it is not even 2015!

“Never mind,” a friend said. “Let us be good so we can follow him.”

Fr. Badillo, you have been such a light-hearted soul, simple and direct with what you want: to know and serve our Lord, do some science, meet other happy stargazers, listen to us your friends, and share whatever it is that interested you until you could do no more. Maybe you are now sitting like a Little Prince on Asteroid 4366, which was named after you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Fr. Badillo. Please pray for us here, that we may be able to carry our crosses, too, with as much quiet and grace, and become more like you.

Rest in peace, Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ, beloved child of God.

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Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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