East Timor

The Vanishing Tree

Father ‘Bong’ Suñaz, now back in the Philippines after serving in East Timor, tells us of the decline of the sandalwood tree in that country before it became independent of Indonesia in 2002.

I remember a beautiful song entitled SANDALWOOD in catechism class back in Manila two decades ago. I still hum it sometimes now and I realize that the place mentioned in that song is the island of Timor, or so I think. I once had the chance to talk about the tree with the head of the Department of Forestry and he said that in Timor the sandalwood tree grows wild, unlike in India and China real plantations were created for economical reasons. He said that most probably during the colonial times of the Portuguese, seedlings of this tree were brought to Goad in Macao hundreds of years before which were also under the colonial Portugal. The tree grows both in the East and West Timor. It is called Cami in Tetun, the local language of Cendana, in Bahasa, Indonesia.

Where Their Souls Once Wept

By Memen Lauzon

Recently, Memen Lauzon made a return visit to East Timor. Memen Lauzon works for international Dialogue, a non government organization based in the Philippines which helps to build solidarity in places like East Timor. She shares with us her return journey to East Timor and her great appreciation of the work of Filipino Missionaries there. Se mentioned many of these missionaries but for editorial reason I have been forced to cut them down. But I can assure you her respect for each and every one of them is unbounded. (Ed).

Savage Revenge

By Fr. Ramoncito Padilla sdb

I have been in East Timor for almost ten years now. When I arrived here in 1991, I remember that there were people, among them some of my Salesian confreres, who were saying that the greatest blessing this land had receive was to be integrated to the “great” Republic of Indonesia. It was easy to see why they said that. There were new roads, a lot of infrastructures that were being constructed especially in Dili, schools were being opened, government employees were being paid well, there was modernization. But as the years passed, it proved to me that these things were not enough. If the people were not happy because they are afraid, intimidated and oppressed, what was the use of all these things?

Goodbye Angola

By Fr. Efren de Guzman svd

After 20 years of serving in Angola, working with the lepers, some encounter with the danger of death, plus the occasional bouts with loneliness in that far, isolated land, I am now moving on to a new assignment; I will be working with the Jesuits and members of other congregations and lay people in East Timor. Similarly, the main thrust of my life will be on community development. As much as I wouldn’t want to leave Angola and the life will be on community development. As much as I wouldn’t want to leave Angola and the life with the people there I have loved through the years, I have to answer God’s call for me to go to another land. And in my heart I believe God will take care of the people I am leaving behind.

What is the situation in East Timor today? After 24 years of Indonesian oppression and violence in East Timor, a referendum was held on August 1999. it was preceded by terrorization and killing of East Timorese people by Indonesian militia groups to persuade them to vote for integration into Indonesia. The militias destroyed 70% of the buildings, fields and livestock and at the same time forcefully evacuated into West Timor (part of Indonesia) between 250, 000 and 300, 000 East Timorese – some 40% of the population of whom hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Hope...amid Tears

By Sr. Janice McLaughlin, mm

Maryknoll Sisters see peace building at heart of their service to the people of East Timor.

East Timor’s Bishops Carlos Ximenes Belo issued an SOS for his people, and Maryknoll Sister’s responded, four missionaries now one a Filipino, serve in this “land of tears.”

The Golgotha of East Timor

By: Francisco Fernandez

The Portuguese occupied Timor around the time the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and suddenly the East Timorese had to make a choice between Christianity and Islam. Many people missionaries have stayed with the people in this time of trial. It is particularly. Many people missionaries have stayed with the people in this time of trial. It is particularly difficult for a missionary, who as a foreigner must remain outside the local processes.