►For Dr. Ernesto de Pedro, the Takayama Canonization Movement started out as a research paper – to explain to visiting Japanese why Lord Takayama was chosen as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao in 1977.
In 1986, a group of Japanese history buffs asked De Pedro to find out who Takayama was – whether he was an actual historical figure – or whether he was the composite of several Japanese medieval heroes. It was then rumored that Takayama was also a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church, but nobody knew whether there was any basis for that pious talk.
To De Pedro’s surprise, the Vatican Archives confirmed that the Manila Archdiocese had proposed on Oct. 5, 1630 the beatification of the exiled Japanese Christian samurai, Dom Justo Ukon Takayama – as the first ever candidate for sainthood from the Philippine Church. Under Church rubrics, “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.” Thus, Takayama was considered a “Catholic of heroic virtue” — from Manila.
The Vatican had a carton-box-full of historical documents about Takayama written in several languages – but Vatican study on them could not proceed till they were all translated to Latin or English. Could De Pedro undertake the translation – “pro-bono” — within two years?
Of course, De Pedro accepted the assignment. Then, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ., added: After the papers are translated, could De Pedro join the historical committee that would discuss the life and heroic virtues of Takayama? (A BSBA graduate, invited to sit at a Vatican history panel?)
PhD at U.S.T.
Upon his return from Rome, De Pedro felt compelled, at age 50, to earn a PhD in History at the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) – where he later taught.
After the Takayama papers were submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), Takayama was declared a “Servant of God” on June 5, 1994.
Having passed the FIRST of four canonical steps to sainthood — the three other steps being ● Venerable, ● Blessed, then ● Saint – it was necesssary for supporters of the “Cause of Takayama” to grow devotion for the Servant of God, Justo Ukon Takayama — in the City of Manila where he died (i.e., “where he was born to Heaven.”)
Support Organization at U.S.T.
At this point, De Pedro realized that in Manila, where Takayama had died in 1615, there was no Manila-based support for the “Cause of Takayama.” He would have to organize one himself — with his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, as its core.
►In 1988, De Pedro incorporated the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation. (Sept. 29, 1988)
►After obtaining from Oxford University a copy of the English biography of Takayama, “A Briefe Relation of the Persecution Lately Made Against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia” (Saint-Omer, France: English College Press, 1619. 350p) written by Takayama’s Jesuit father-confessor, Padre Pedro Morejon, published four years after Takayama’s death in Manila — De Pedro ventured to lecture in Japan about Takayama. From the lecture fees he earned, he endowed the “Lord Justus Takayama Professorial Chair in Philippine-Japanese Studies” (Feb. 4, 1989) at UST.
The first Takayama Lecture was delivered by Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo on Feb. 3, 1990. Twenty-five years later, Dr. Hornedo was again invited to deliver the Takayama Lecture in 2015.
After 31 years, the Chair still has P429,814.38 — as of Nov. 30, 2017.
►At UST Graduate School, De Pedro organized two International Symposia on Lord Takayama (in 1989 & 1998), which attracted scholars from Japan, the United States, the Vatican and the Philippines.
►When the “Takayama Garden Restaurant” at Greenhills, San Juan City, relocated to Jupiter St., Makati, De Pedro persuaded the owners to donate the Takayama statue that was at the center of the restaurant to UST. This statue now stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC).
Promotion of ‘the Cause’
►Since 1988, UST Chapel has been the venue for annual Takayama Memorial Masses – with Filipino and Japanese Cardinals and ApostolicNuncios as celebrants.
►Since 1988, De Pedro has organized Takayama Pilgrim Tours for Japanese. The largest tour group so far has been 280. The Department of Tourism goal is to produce one tour group of 350 Japanese Pilgrims — which is the same number as the Christian exiles in Takayama’s exile boat.
Seven (7) bishops out of Japan’s 16 dioceses, including Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, have already visited Takayama’s “Old Manila.” This Takayama Pilgrimage includes a visit to the Takayama Shrine at UST and to the San Domingo Priory in Quezon City to see “La Japona,” the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary that was escorted back to Manila by Lord Takayama on board his exile boat.
►On Nov. 17, 1992, De Pedro secured from the National Historical Commission the declaration of the Takayama Memorial (established in 1977) as a National Monument.
►On Dec. 21, 2018, recognizing Takayama as a “Son of Manila,” Manila City Hall declared December 21 every year as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day.”
►To spread information about Takayama, De Pedro manages the Takayama website: www.takayamaukon.com.
On Facebook, the ‘Takayama Cause’ is on the FB Page: //justotakayamaukon.
►The late Osaka Cardinal Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi has cited Takayama as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit.”
The Japanese historian, Anesaki Masaharu, summed up the significance of Takayama: “Justo Ukon Takayama’s life illustrates a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic. His brilliant military achievements, his moral integrity and deliberateness in critical moments, his dauntless spirit combined with a meek soul, his earnest zeal and piety expressed in his generosity and charity — all these should be noted as a fruit of Christian missions.”
►In all of these developments, the University of Santo Tomas has been the “de facto” center of the Takayama movement. The final test of history is whether at the end of our endeavors, all this research will result in the ultimate canonization of Blessed Justo Takayama, Son of Manila.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro