Ernie de Pedro’s Takayama Ukon Research

Two weeks ago I received an email from Dr. Ernie de Pedro. Turns out that he has been conducting research for years on the recently beatified Takayama. I was elated to know that he created a website with his son dedicated to the Christian samurai lord.

For those not familiar with Dr. Ernie de Pedro, he’s an Oxford graduate and former director general of the country’s film archive body. He took up his doctorate studies in UST and is now a Managing Trustee for Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation. He specializes in Philippine-Japan history and has worked with several presidents; from Magsaysay to Erap.

Manong Ernie is a down to earth historian, approachable, rare for someone with his credentials. I met him six years ago. The Chile-based writer, Elizabeth Medina, asked me to interview him in 2011. 

According to Ms. Medina, Manong Ernie witnessed her grandfather’s​ public execution. Emilio Medina y Lazo was governor of Ilocos under the Japanese. Ms. Medina wrote Sampaguitas in the Andes (2006) a tribute and memoir to her grandfather.

When I asked if his spiritual belief is “framed within a formal religion or as a personal religiousness?” Dr. de Pedro had a profound response but the line that stuck with me was that for him, “Catholicism is a good religion to die in.” 

He ended up helping Japanese researchers after being approached for help on several occasions. They thought he was in charge of the country’s archives. He was working with film archives, not national archives. He later decided to help with research.

Last month I was reminded of Takayama when I saw the trailer of “Silenced” by Martin Scorcece. I went to the local library to look for the novel the film was based on. No copy was available. The film made the Japanese novel in demand once more.

“Silence” is about Portuguese Jesuits who came to look for their missing compatriot. The setting was during the time of the “Hidden Christians” of the Tokugawa era. Christianity was banned in 1614. Takayama came to Manila in 1615. He died a few months after his arrival.

Takayama Ukon in Plaza Dilao

I wrote several blog entries about Takayama. I take inspiration from his example. His is a story of faith and loyalty. It must have been his wish or must be God’s design that he died in Manila. Catholic burial rites was impossible under the Tokugawa ban. He would have been deprived of one.

According to Dr. de Pedro, Takayama was interred in the old Jesuit church in Intramuros. When WWII leveled much of it, the Jesuits moved the residents of the crypt to the Jesuit Novaliches cemetery. Takayama’s​ remains (along with Lord Naito) were mixed up with other bones. They did test for DNA but so far has failed to get positive identification.

When I visited the Archdiocese of Osaka I saw a simple statue of Takayama holding a small cross. The one in Paco’s Plaza Dilao have a long pointed crucifix (similar to the one in Takatsuki). The church is close to the historic Osaka castle, about 20 to 30 minute walk. Umeda or Nakatsu (closest to the Archdiocese) are the train stations nearby.

Last February, the Christian samurai lord was beatified in the Archdiocese of Osaka. The beatification puts him closer to sainthood.

In his old age, with support mainly from close friends and family, Dr. De Pedro took on a daunting task but he seem happy with how things has turn out. In his email he said, “Everyone is involved. When I crowd sourced our ramen-money for the Japan trip — every relativr from the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, the US, Canada and Norway came through! Isn’t it great to have such a formidable Support group?”

Please drop by and learn more about Justo Takayama Ukon. Support the cause and its advocates, include them in your prayers!

Here are my old posts about Takayama:

The Japanese of Old Manila

Save the Old Paco Train Station

Takayama the Catholic Samurai


3 responses to “Ernie de Pedro’s Takayama Ukon Research

  • Pepe Alas (@JoseMarioAlas)

    If Dom Justo Takayama’s remains were interred within the old Jesuit church in Intramuros, then that could only be the Church of San Ignacio which is now being rebuilt (but as a museum).

    • Arnaldo Arnáiz

      yes. rebuilt several times and then renamed but same location. all residents of the crypt had been transferred to novaliches. the bones most likely is there already, mixed up it other jesuits. i plan to visit the cemetery one day.

  • Arnaldo Arnáiz

    Please note that Dr. De Pedro made the following corrections about this post. Below is his actual FB message/post:

    Ernesto de Pedro:

    The blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz has released a new post in “With One’s Past” on “Ernie de Pedro’s Takayama Ukon Research” inviting readers to visit .
    It is an Interesting take, but I must make some factual corrections.
    ► ”De Pedro is an Oxford graduate.” I AM NOT. I studied Archives Administration at Oxford on a British Council grant. This course was offered to sitting archives administrators from Commonwealth countries to enhance their professional competence. It was not a degree program. When one says “graduate,” it implies a degree. There’s a big difference.
    ► De Pedro has worked with several presidents — from Magsaysay to Erap. I started with Magsaysay and retired under President Cory Aquino. I was out of government when Erap was President.
    ► According to the Chile-based writer, Elizabeth Medina, who wrote “Sampaguitas in the Andes” (2006) as a tribute and memoir to her grandfather, “Manong Ernie witnessed her grandfather’s public execution. Emilio Medina y Lazo was governor of Ilocos Norte under the Japanese. Witnessed? NOT TRUE. I did not witness the execution. But I traced eyewitness accounts and shared this with Ms Medina. My account must have been vivid.

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