The main upper hall of the Baclaran Shrine where the church volunteers usually gather for meals, meetings, and fellowship is called Romano Hall. It is named after Fr. Rudy Romano, a Redemptorist Priest from Samar who was forcibly abducted by armed men on July 11, 1985 in Cebu City. Fr. Rudy has remained missing up to this day. Tomorrow, July 11, 2019, marks the 34th year of his disappearance.
Another tribute for Fr. Rudy and his fellow desaparecidos in the shrine is a monument called Bantayog ng Desaparecido (Memorial for the Disappeared). It is located at a corner of the shrine lawn fronting Roxas Boulevard. The Bantayog is a remembrance of all the missing persons under the brutal regime of Marcos. It lists the names of Fr. Rudy and hundreds of other missing people etched in granite panels. Unveiled in September 2004, the memorial is the refurbished “Flame of Courage Monument,” designed and created by sculptor Lito Mondejar. It features a mother carrying a torch, which symbolizes the courage of those left behind and continuing the struggle for justice. For families and friends of the disappeared, the Bantayog stands as a common ground for remembrance. The families come here every year in November 1 because they have no tomb to visit on All Souls’ Day.
Fr. Rudy remains missing to this day, presumed to be dead. But for all of us who continue to struggle for a just and peaceful society, his spirit remains alive and strong. Fr. Rudy remains alive and present in our tireless effort and sacrifice for the defense of the poor and human rights.
Let us not allow Fr. Rudy to become missing again. Especially in these dark times–the horrible violation of human rights and rampant killings in the name of drug war, let us not cow in fear and become indifferent to the terrible reality that has befallen our country. May the sacrifice of Fr. Rudy, the thousands of desaparecidos and those who were killed for justice and peace, continue to inspire and strengthen our commitment towards the building of a society that truly reflects the values of God’s kingdom–love, peace and harmony for all.