THE BIG shot that was Jaime Cardinal Sin is remembered for leading two people power revolutions, his witty intellect, pastoral charm, his rolly-polly look, and of course, his ironic surname. But the best image—or images—we have of the “Asian Richelieu,” as one political commentator described the influential prelate, were those immortalized through the camera of Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s official photographer.

To mark the Cardinal’s first death anniversary, Yamsuan’s collection of Sin’s snapshots titled, “Remember I Love You All Very Dearly,” Jaime L. Cardinal Sin: The Final Journey, was launched last June 20 at the EDSA Shrine. The 120-page book documents the funeral and burial of the powerful prelate, both as a spiritual and political watermark in the spiritual-political dynamite that is the Philippines.

Yamsuan recounted how spontaneous and photogenic the Cardinal was as a photo subject. Yamsuan earlier published Scenes of Sin, a pictographic chronicle of Sin’s reign as archbishop of Manila before his canonical retirement in 2004.

“I like taking the Cardinal’s pictures because he never gets conscious of the camera,” Yamsuan, an alumnus of the Faculty of Engineering, told the Varsitarian.

Being with the Cardinal for about 32 years, Yamsuan said it was understandably an emotional moment for him to photograph and document Sin’s funeral.

“The Cardinal’s funeral was the most difficult coverage I did for him,” Yamsuan said. “With tears I was taking pictures. When I saw people who were very close to him, I really felt sad. I even had to control myself from crying while taking shots.”

The photo book also contains homilies, speeches, eulogies, newspaper columns, and essays on the Cardinal’s passing.

Scholarship becomes the youth

Peachy Yamsuan, the head of the Manila Archdiocesan Office on Communication and Noli’s wife, compiled the texts from such personalities as Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas, former President Corazon Aquino, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist and former Varsitarian editor in chief Rina Jimenez-David, and University of the Philippines professor Alex Magno.

Proceeds of the book will go to its publisher, Serviam Foundation, which sponsors the Cardinal Sin Village in Punta Sta. Ana, Manila. Once completed, the village will house more than 200 poor families.

Sin’s good shots

Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, who officiated the tribute Mass during the book launching, remembered Sin’s pastoral letter barely five moths after he was installed as Manila archbishop.

“It was the first public protest against the government and the military since the declaration of martial law,” Reyes said. “Since then, people looked at him as a promoter of justice and human rights.”

Reyes said that the Cardinal brought much prestige to the Manila Archdiocese and solidified its moral influence over the country.

In Sin’s 29 years in the Metropolitan See of Manila, Reyes said that the prelate did not only focus on being a watchdog of the Marcos dictatorship, but also strengthened catechesis in public and non-sectarian schools.

“Catechesis was given top priority and much financial support. Catechism is now taught in most, if not all, public schools and nonsectarian private schools in the archdiocese,” Reyes said.

It was also through the Cardinal’s efforts that the first Filipino martyr-saint Lorenzo Ruiz was beatified in 1981 and canonized in 1987. Due to his persistence, Pope John Paul II visited the country twice and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta established her Missionaries of Charity in the country, which serves poor communities in Tondo.

Pag-unawa, hindi 'impeachment'

“Looking back to what Cardinal Sin has achieved, we can truly say that he was many a splendid person—someone who was larger than life,” Reyes said.

If a picture paints a thousand words, then Yamsuan’s collection is the best way to keep the Cardinal’s larger-than-life saga in the people’s collective memory. Nathaniel R. Melican


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