Wednesday, June 6, 2012



VIRGEN DE LOS REMEDIOS, Patroness of Pampanga

The image of the Virgen de los Remedios is one that is dear to every Kapampangan—this particular Virgin with the title she shares with the venerated Virgin in Malate Church,  happens to be the Patroness of the province of Pampanga.

2010 Re-enactment of the canonical coronation of Virgen delos Remedios, 
San Fernando. Photo courtesy of Arwin Paul Lingat.

The story of her origins began only on 15 April 1952, when Kapampangans started the Cruzada y Buena Voluntad (Crusade of Charity and Goodwill) through the initiative of Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerrero.

The original image was borrowed from Baliti, a barangay of San Fernando, but when the people decided not to loan out the image after a year of non-stop pilgrimage to all Pampanga towns, Bishop Guerrero commissioned a similar image that was eventually crowned canonically on 8 September 1956 at the San Fernando Capitol grounds. 

Virgen delos Remedios, pilgrim image. Picture courtesy of Arwin Paul Lingat.

Every Kapampangan home used to have either an escayola image or a print of the Virgen de los Remedios, and I remember having both on our home altar, although today, only the plaster cast image survived. 

Virgen de los Remedios, as an image, is not as popular with santos fans as, let’s say Virgen de La Naval or Purisima Concepcion. That is why, in my recent visits to the workshop/residence of Dr. Raffy Lopez, I could not help but be surprised at the  surge in the number of Virgen de los Remedios ivory images being commissioned lately. But most adhered to the iconography of the Malate Remedios and not the Remedios of Pampanga.

I don’t know if it was out of envy or if it was just good old  Kapampangan pride that finally made me decide to have my own Virgen de los Remedios ( by the way, aren’t envy and pride two of the 7 deadly sins??!??). Well, I do have one last remaining antique ivory Virgin that I restored many years ago and I always believed it had some resemblance to the Pampanga Remedios.

I got the old ivory head and hands from Philtrade, now brown with age. Not exactly a beautiful looking head—it even had lost its eyebrows—but it had a character face.  I had also an old  headless/armless  body of an Immaculada, that came with embroidered white and blue vestments.

The head and the hands were a perfect fit for the body. A human hair wig from another antique santa was recycled for the Virgin’s use and an open crown I found served as her temporary, though inappropriate, corona. The new base, I got from Dr. Lopez.

For many years, I kept this nondescript Virgin in the old house, away from display, but every time I would see her, she would remind me of our patroness. I think it was actually the dress that gave her the resemblance, but after awhile, I started to believe she could really be the Virgen de los Remedios.

So, armed with an old stampita of Remedios and a vintage souvenir program of the re-enactment of her crowning that showed her body in full, I asked Dr. Lopez to transform my put-together Virgin into the Virgen de los Remedios of Pampanga. Note that Dr. Lopez had just completed a Remedios for a friend and was rushing to complete another one for an archdiocesan exhibit. I was worried that a 3rd consecutive Remedios project would drive him nuts!

First, since the ivory image had no facial resemblance to the original sweet-looking Virgin, we decided to go by the power of suggestion and copy every detail of the Remedios Virgin—from the metalwork, ruffled sleeves and collar, the color and the draping of the vestment

I decided though to use a cloud base on which the trademark half-moon could be stuck. Dr. Lopez had to extricate another work-in-progress santa from its cloud base so that it could be used by my Virgin, and I immediately liked the result.

As always, I pretty much left the restorer to conceive the design of the vestments to be rendered in a shade of blue and light pink.

The project was done in lightning speed, finished in a little over  2 weeks—a record of sorts, at least for me. 

The result of Dr. Lopez’s amazing restoration remedy I now present here: 

"O Indu ning Kapaldanan, Panalangin Mu Kami!"

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