RIGOS, Cirilo A.

Rigos Cirilo

The imposition of martial law in the Philippines in September 1972 instantly created a climate of fear that kept most people from saying or doing anything that might offend the government. It became impossible for friends to meet in public places, because they feared that spies would be listening to their conversations.  Especially, it somehow became dangerous to be associated with persons who were known to be independent-minded, or at least not pro-Marcos.

A Protestant church in the heart of Manila was able to open a window that allowed a bit of fresh air into the stifling atmosphere. In 1973, just a few months after the martial law declaration, the Wednesday Forum began meeting at the Cosmopolitan Church on Taft  Avenue. The ecumenical group brought together not only Protestants but also other religious leaders, as well as professionals, academics and opposition politicians; some members of the Marcos government also attended.

Every week they gathered at the social hall of the church to discuss public concerns: “The purpose was to know the true facts, as distinguished from the reported ‘facts’ in the controlled media, and thereafter to proclaim the truth and work for freedom and justice and human dignity, at a crucial time when so many had been deprived of their basic human rights.”[1] Not surprisingly, a number of those who attended were later arrested and detained by the military.

It was Cirilo Rigos, the courageous pastor of Cosmopolitan Church, who convened and hosted Wednesday Forum. From the pulpit, he continued to deliver passionate, stinging sermons criticizing the injustices perpetrated by the regime. Due to pressure from some conservative members, however, he felt he had to resign from his position in 1977. This resulted in Rigos, and Wednesday Forum, transferring to Ellinwood Church instead where he served for the next 11 years.

Pastor Rigos was also instrumental in organizing the Paglingap ministry of his church, which attended to the needs of political detainees and their families. He worked for the release of many such detainees.

After the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, Rigos was appointed by President Corazon Aquino to the Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 Constitution.

Cirilo Rigos served as pastor of Cosmopolitan Church for a second time in 1993, until his death from cancer in 1996.

BORN                                    :               March 29, 1932 in Candelaria, Quezon

DIED                                      :               June 21, 1996 in Makati City

PARENTS                             :               Juan Rigos and Paula Aquino

SPOUSE/CHILDREN         :               Lydia de Guia / 2

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary:  Candelaria Elementary School, Candelaria Quezon

Secondary:  Tayabas Academy, Quezon

College: Union Theological Seminary, Manila

Postgraduate: Union Theological Seminary, New York;  San Francisco

Theological Seminary, California;  University of Chicago (USA)


[1] In Jovito R. Salonga, “Who we are and what Cosmopolitan Church stands for,” message delivered during the 61st anniversary celebration of Cosmopolitan Church on March 20, 1994.