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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Igorot Cowboy Priest travels 6 hours by horse to tend to his flock in remote villages

Photo Courtesy || Father Rolly Buasen

Cordillera-  Dedicating their lives to serve God, some choose to be ordained as priests or ministers. You might  be wondering about their whys and hows or what ifs, but being a cowboy priest? 

Then, let's get to know more about one of the cowboy priests in  the mountains of Itogon, Benguet. Yes, he is just another successor of the many cowboy priests who once served in the Chapels of Itogon. He started serving at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in June 2019 and will be serving  for four years.

Rev. Father Rolly Buasen had been riding his horse like a cowboy climbing mountains and crossing rivers   to conduct  at least five masses in three different chapels every week. It wasn't by choice, but he has to because he needs to travel about one to six hours  not to mention the routes being impassable by car to reach the other chapels. Besides, someone lent him a horse so he can travel conveniently and save his energy till he can make it for the last mass of the day.

"First, parang di ko gusto...parang ayaw ko sumakay pero...Nakita ko magandang hobby ito...I appreciate na yung connection mo sa kabayo... parang theraputic... parang alaga mo," Fr. Rolly said in an interview with the Front Row.

Being looked up to as the spiritual father of the community, he ministers to both the Kankana-ey and Ibaloi tribes. As he himself is a Kankanaey-Ibaloi who hailed from Atok, Benguet, he is able to easily minister and mingle  with the people at the same time encourage inculturation. As people in Benguet practice their culture and faith together, it is Fr, Rolly's mission to teach them balance their cultural practices but not compromise their faith.

In his interview, he mentioned that in his short stay, he already enjoyed serving most especially in the remote villages like Dalupirip, Pinungdan and Binga.

Now that he's used to riding a horse, he has been promoting horse riding race activities to encourage the youths and rekindle the old culture. To help the residents have a livelihood, he's also promoting horseback riding for tourists at the same time enjoy the scenic view of the mountains taking the route from Salapsap Dalupirip to Mt. Pigingan, one of the highest Mountain in Itogon and the first tourist attraction.

Being an orphan at a young age, he grew up in a rectory, started as a sacristan and was baptized at 15. Then, went to the seminary to study Philosophy and Theology as he developed and deepened his love to serving the people by bringing them hope and inspiration.

Fr. Rolly's deep devotion in his ministry is indeed admirable. May his love and compassion towards other people be felt and serve as an inspiration and hope. Let's appreciate  and make his selfless love be worthwhile.



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