Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Ako ang hari sa bahay pero ang asawa ko ang alas.”

This everyday statement was meant to be a joke but it might as well reflect the matriarchal instincts of Filipinos in our sub-conscious minds. For really, Filipinos have been ruled by Rajas and Datus but it was the Babaylans or native priestesses whom they seek for decision making. The Babaylans were eventually demonized when the Spanish introduced their male god. But the Babaylans did not disappear, periodically resurrecting themselves into mangkukulams (the demonized version) and beatas (“blessed” women who dominated 17th-18th century religion) that later inspired other “cult” movements like the confradia, the masonic movement, the Katipunan, Guardia de Honor, and the like.

Today, the Babaylan’s presence is stronger than ever and is manifested in the Filipino Catholic’s devotion to the Virgin Mary. It makes me wonder why Filipinos would venerate a mortal (the Virgin Mary) more than God and the Son of God itself (Jesus Christ). Of the 19 major Catholic pilgrimage churches in the Philippines, only 5 are dedicated to Jesus Christ (i.e. Badoc, Quiapo, Cebu, Kalibo, and Tacloban). The following 14 other pilgrimage churches are dedicated to the Virgin Mary: Badoc In Ilocos Norte, Bantay in Ilocos Sur, Luna in La Union, Manaoag in Pangasinan, Piat in Cagayan, Gamu in Isabela, Ermita in Malate (Manila), Antipolo in Rizal, Pakil in Laguna, Caysasay in Batangas, Capalonga in Camarines Norte, Penafrancia in Camarines Sur, Joroan (Tiwi) in Albay, and Opon in Mactan Island. I have the opportunity of seeking the Babaylan’s blessings in these shrines of the Virgin Mary with the exception of that in Capalonga and Opon.

SHRINE OF THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (Piat, Cagayan). Piat was accepted as an evangelical mission of the Dominicans in 1610. During the evangelization of the Itawis region, miracles were attributed to an image of the Virgin Mary that was carved in Macau and subsequently brought to Nueva Segovia from Manila. In 1623, Fr. Diego Pinero (OP) initiated the building of an ermita for the miraculous image in an area between the pueblos of Piat and Tuao. It was later transferred to the church of Piat that Fr. Francisco Jimenez (OP) initiated to build in 1740. Fr. Ysodoro Rodriguez (OP) later made improvements to the church. In 1897, Fr. Santiago Capdevila (OP) added a silver altar and in 1898 started dressing the image of the Virgin Mary in gold and silver. The Diocese of Tuguegarao later abandoned the church after building a bigger shrine in the same place where the old ermita stood.

NUESTRA SENORA DEL ROSARIO (Manaoag, Pangasinan). Manaoag has been under the Dominican’s administration since 1605. Fr. Juan de Jacinto (OP) probably supervised the building of the first church that was made of light materials. Fr. Diego de Ballesteros (OP) initiated building a church at the close of the 17th century at a new site west of Baloquin but later abandoned this. Capitan Gaspar de Gamboa later had a brick church constructed that he donated to the Dominicans in 1722. In 1882, the renovation and enlargement of the church was started but was later demolished halfway into the construction after it suffered major damages during the 1892 earthquake. Fr. Hilario del Campo (OP) then later Fr. Jose Ma. Puente (OP) had a provisional church built while a new one is being constructed. This was, however, burned during the Philippine Revolution of 1898 before it was finished. From 1901 until 1906, Father Pacis, Fr. Cipriano Pampliega, Fr. Mariano Revilla, and Fr. Jose Bartolo supervised the rebuilding of the church. In 1912, further improvements were made and in 1926, the image of the famous Nuestra Senora de Manaoag was enshrined in the church. The church was gain improved from 1931 until 1932 under the supervision of Fr. Andres Duque before being damaged again during World War II.

National Heritage: The Lady of Namacpacan and a Capilla Passa

The town of Luna in La Union was founded by the Augustinians as a visita of Balaoan and was formerly known as Namacpacan. Fr. Mateo Bustillos (OSA) initiated building the first church from 1695 to 1697. This was probably destroyed and construction on what might be the present church started sometime in the 18th century. It was reinforced and improved in 1829 only to be severely damage in an 1854 earthquake. The church was again rebuilt in 1863. Fr. Marcelino Ceballos had the church restored and the convent enlarged in 1876. The Lady of Namacpacan, said to be miraculous, is enshrined in the church and crowned in 1959. The church --- dedicated to Sta. Catalina --- has been renovated several times since then. The entrance to the church features a capilla passa that looks like a fortress and a ceremonial archway. The National Commission on Culture and Arts had declared the church as a national heritage site.

NUESTRA SENORA DELOS REMEDIOS (Malate, Manila). Maalat --- the old Malate --- was once called Laguio/Lagunoy. The Augustinians accepted it as a mission in 1581. A makeshift church was built in 1588 and, by 1591, a church and convent of stone was already constructed. The image of Nuestra Senora de Gracia --- brought from Andalucia, Spain ---- was enshrined in the church in 1624. Both church and convent were pulled down after sustaining damages during the 1645 and 1667 earthquakes. Fr. Dionisio Suarez (OSA) initiated rebuilding it from 1677 until 1679. It was completed under the supervision of Fr. Pedro de Mesa (OSA) in 1680. The church was damaged after being occupied by the invading British in 1762 who used it as a rear guard headquarters. It was rebuilt but again sustained damages during the 1863 earthquake. Fr. Francisco Cuadrado (OSA) had the church rebuilt in 1864 that was again damaged during a typhoon in 1868. Fr. Nicolas Dulanto (OSA) supervised its restoration and improvement from 1894 until 1898. The convent was demolished and replaced in 1930. Both church and convent were razed by fire during the liberation of Manila on 3-17 February 1945 where 5 Columban priests and thousands of Filipinos were massacred by the retreating Japanese invaders. The Columbans rebuilt the church from 1950 until 1978.

NUESTRA SENORA DE LA PAZ Y BUENAVIAJE (Antipolo, Rizal). The Franciscans were the founders of Antipolo. It was handed to the Jesuits in 1591. Fr. Juan de Salazar (SJ) had a stone church built from 1630 to 1633 for the image of Nuestra Senora dela Paz y Buenviaje that was brought from Mexico in 1626 by Governor Juan Nino de Tavera. The image became known as patroness of the galleons and had crossed the Pacific Ocean 8 times between 1641 and 1748. It was canonically crowned in 1926. The church was heavily damaged during the Chinese uprising of 1639 to 1640. Another one was built and destroyed during the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1863. Msgr. Francisco Avendano later had the present church reconstructed that was declared as a national shrine in 1954. Fr. Pedro Chirino (SJ) and Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde (SJ), famed Jesuit historians, served in the church that is today venerated by pilgrims throughout the country.

THE VIRGIN OF CAYSASAY (Caysasay, Taal, Batangas). In 1603, a fisherman named Juan de Maningkad found what is now known as the image of the Caysasay Virgin while fishing in the river. The image was said to frequently appear in the place where it was found and, in 1611, a church of light materials was built in the area. This was replaced in 1639 by a stone church that was damaged during the 1754 and 1852 eruptions of the Taal Volcano. The church was rebuilt in 1856 only to be damaged again during the 1867 earthquake. It was later repaired and improved under the supervisions of Fr. Marcos Anton, the Italian painter Cesar Alberoni, and Fr. Agapito Aparicio. It has undergone renovations since then. The image of the Caysasay Virgin is enshrined in the church except on Fridays when it is brought to the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours.

NUESTRA SENORA DE PENA DE FRANCIA (Naga City, Camarines Sur). An early church, dedicated to the image of the Nuestra Senora Pena de Francia, was built around 1711 under the supervision of Fr. Miguel Covarrubias (OFM). This was replaced by the present church that was built around 1760 during the term of Bishop Isidoro de Arevalo. Repairs and improvements were done between 1877 and 1878 by Bishop Francisco Gainza.

LA VIRGEN MILAGROSA (Badoc, Ilocos Norte). Sometime ago, a group of lost fishermen found the images of what is now the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc and the Sto. Cristo floating in the sea. It was said that the images decided where to stay by not allowing themselves to be moved. As it is, the Sto. Cristo stayed in Sinait and the La Virgen Milagrosa in Badoc where they remained enshrined since 1620.

The other pilgrimage churches which has been featured in earlier postings are the NUESTRA SENORA DE LA SALVACION in Joroan, Tiwi, Albay; OUR LADY OF CHARITY in Bantay, Ilocos Sur; OUR LADY OF GUIBANG in Gamu, Isabela; and the VIRGIN OF TURUMBA in Pakil, Laguna.

The Babaylan's Healer

Amang Lakay became a mangngagas during the early years of his marriage to Inang Baket. It happened when an old lady (the Babaylan?) befriended Amang Lakay and gave him a white bottle for healing spiritual and physical illnesses. Every late afternoon when day slowly fades into the night, Amang Lakay will wait in the window for the old lady’s visit. Amang Lakay’s white bottle healed many people in Almaguer but Inang Baket dreaded every moment of her husband’s daily rituals with the old lady that only he can see. Amang Lakay stopped being a mangangagas when he learned that all his children will die in exchange for his healing powers. Six of his ten children did die --- Soledad, Alicia, Febia, Antonio, Melencia and Leoncia. One of them is a child who looks like a monkey that was considered as their lucky charm. The first child to survive, Rosita, was born on April 7, 1932 in Almaguer.

One time, Inang Baket became pregnant again and gave birth at the same time with that of a neighbor. The neighbor died and during her funeral, Inang Baket asked the procession to stop so she could at least look at her neighbor, a request that the naseknans did not allow because it is dakes. When night came, Inang Baket heard a moaning sound approaching their house. It is the ghost of the neighbor. When the moans came nearer, Inang Baket got very scared. Amang Lakay, fearing for the health of his wife, took hold of a burarawit and chased the ghost away.

CREDIT: The Antipolo shrine illustration is borrowed from Norma Alarcon's "Philippine Architecture During the Pre-Spanish and Spanish Periods."

No comments: