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Church 'winning anti-gambling fight'

Residents even believe it is part of their culture to gamble during wakes

Church 'winning anti-gambling fight'
An Igorot funeral in the northern Philippines (photo courtesy of Tan-o-The Igorot Blog)
The Catholic Church in Lagawe in the northern Philippine province of Ifugao believes it’s winning the fight against gambling. "The Church here has decided that an experiment to refuse a funeral Mass if gambling occurs during a wake will now become policy," said Father Valentine Dimoc, social action director of Lagawe parish. He said it has become so rampant in the province, residents even believe it is part of their culture to gamble during wakes. Father John Marion Buyawagan, an Ifugao native, said gambling might be a practice "but it certainly is not and never will be a part of our culture." "We should respect the dead and not promote gambling while saying goodbye to a beloved member of the family," he said. The priest said the people can still play games of chance during wakes but they risk their dead relatives not getting a blessing from the Church. Father Buyawagan said people initially resisted the Church's stand against gambling until they realized "their culture does not allow them to disgrace the departed" or promote "unrighteousness in times of grief." Lagawe Mission Station’s Pastoral Council has observed that after an initial drop, more funeral Masses are being recorded, meaning there is less gambling at wakes. Father Dimoc said the Church has also been successful in reducing gambling in the province during town fiestas. PL13520.1643

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