FRANCISCAN missionaries hope to introduce the people of Samar to their rich heritage by reopening an old museum that contains a treasure trove of ancient relics, including old manuscripts dating back to the 17th century.
The Christ the King College (CKC), the pioneer Catholic educational institution in the province, recently reopened its museum to the public.
The museum, named after the late Father Cantius J. Kobak, OFM, is the only museum in the Eastern Visayas region that is open to public.
The institution hosts ancient burial jars, human bones and artifacts recovered from archeological expeditions led five decades ago by Father Kobak, an American Franciscan missionary.
Shortly upon his arrival in August 1959, Father Kobak began to take great interest in local history and culture. He collected festival programs from Samar’s towns and compiled histories from information gathered from people.
He was also given permission to salvage church items that were being cast aside when some old churches in Samar were renovated in the 1960s.
His most scholarly achievement was the tracking, transcribing, translating to English, and publishing or preparing for publication all extant copies of the manuscripts of Jesuit Father Francisco Ignacio Alcina, known in the academic community as the author of Historia de las Islas e Indios de Bisayas 1668.
The Historia is the only comprehensive ethnographic and historical account of the Visayas region in the 17th century. Parts of it now appear as books in English translation under the title History of the Bisayan People in the Philippine Islands (Vols. 1, 2 and 3).
The publication is co-edited by Dominican Father Lucio Gutierrez and published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Only Volume 4 remains to be published.
Father Kobak also collaborated on the English translation of the Reseña de la Provincia de Leyte (Colonial Odyssey of Leyte) by Manuel Artigas y Cuerva, originally published in Spanish in 1914, with Professor Rolando O. Borrinaga of the University of the Philippines.
“I completed the manuscript on August 14, 2004. The next day, Father Kobak passed away in the United States at the age of 74,” Borrinaga said.
Their book came out in 2006 and won the 2006 National Book Award for Translation given by the Manila Critics Circle.
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