Thursday, December 22, 2016


ALTAR OF THE NATIVITY. Mabalacat Church. Photo by Dr. R. Feliciano

The whole Christendom celebrates the birth of Jesus with great joy and mirth, but nowhere is it celebrated with more pageantry than in the Philippines. Churches and communities prepare by staging the Nativity Scene before the altar, to be reflected on during the Simbang Gabi.

BACOLOR BELEN, dressed by the late Thom Joven.Photo: T. Joven

Some churches with side altars already containing belen images need only to clean and spruce up the figures. But those churches without lifesize images of San Jose, Sta. Maria and Nino Jesus, have to source them out from families, or make do with what they have--converting generic looking saints into the Holy Family.

A RECONSTITUTED BELEN, Staged using separate individual santos.
 Photo by Rainier Sexon

But that is not the only challenge; there is the stable that needs to be built,  plus the manger and all the "props" that would make the Nativity scene looks more authentic--animal figures, mostly sheep, goat, cattle.


The Nativity scene takes inspiration from the accounts of the birth of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The narrative describes an angel announcing Jesus' birth to a group of shepherds who then went on to visit the humble site, where they found the Child Jesus in a manger. Matthew's story includes the presence of the 3 wise men who were guided by the star to the stable, hence, these characters are likewise included in the tableau. 

NATIVITY SCENE with the 3 Magis, Photo by Leo Cloma

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with making the first Nativity Scene in 1223 to shift emphasis to Christ rather than gift-giving. In the Philippines, those in charge of staging the Belen take great efforts to make the tableau truly artistic. All sorts of materials go into the making of the stable--cut bamboo, old house parts, sawali, palm leaves, outlumber posts, old capiz windows.


The scenography is fashioned from crumple brown paper then painted to simulate stones and boulders, then further decorated with pieces of pottery, flowers and greeneries, The floor is strewn with hay and then the stable is anachronistically festooned with lanterns and Christmas lights

ESCAYOLA BELEN. Photo by Leo Cloma

Elaborate belens also include an animated Star of Bethlehem--a lit lantern that can swing into place through the use of pulleys--to the center of the tableau, which is the highlight of the Midnight Mass. After the Mass, the Baby Jesus is taken out of the manger for the traditional kissing of its feet or cheeks--the Pahalik.

BELEN IN AN ILOCOS CHURCH, Dressed in Filipiana. Photo: Leo Cloma

Distinctive nativity scenes and traditions have been created around the world, but they have not escaped controversy---mostly issues on propriety (characters are sometimes made to wear outlandish costumes), extravagance, and accuracy (like the presence of non-Biblical characters).


But whether we like it or not, the Belen is here to stay. Like the Christnas tree, parol, noche buena and aguinaldo, Christmas is not Christmas without the traditional nativity scene to inspire awe and devotion of Christ--not just during the holidays, but for the whole year through!


Friday, December 16, 2016


THE QUEEN OF BIKOLANDIA, NTRA. SRA. DE PENAFRANCIA, Revered as "Ina" by Bikolanos, the small wooden image, which is already more than 275 years old, was canonically crowned in 1924, 

It was the canonical coronation of our Lady of the Peña de Francia, the regional patroness of Bicol, as had been authorized by Pope Benedict  XV. It took placein Naga on September 20, 1924. The concourse of mitred dignitaries of the church headed by the Apostolic Delegate himself, including Manila archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty, a number of bishops and monsignori, not to say priests of the regular and secular clergies from all over the country who came for the ceremonies was the biggest ever seen in the Bicol region.

THE CHURCH OF NAGA, now a metropolitan cathedral, built in 1595
 Metropolitan newspapers had directed public attention towards this event long before it was held. During the week of September  13-20, all roads led to Naga as thousands over thousands of pilgrims from all walks of life packed the streets of the episcopal capital. Solemn pontifical masses were celebrated daily by the visiting bishops from the 18th to the 21st. During the triduum that preceded the coronation the people overflowed daily the cathedral and its surrounding yards and premises where open-air altars stood and masses were offered continually from morning to high noon.
in Salamanca, Spain.
The coronation which was a pompous pageant in the afternoon of the 20th climaxed the week-long ceremonies. On the platform erected in the open field fronting the cathedral sat governors and high civil official of the Bikol provinces side by side with purple-rocheted prelates. Never had such a congregation been seen hereabouts. As Msgr. Piani, the Pope’s own representative, dressed in pontifical regalia, raised the bejeweled crown and rested it on the head of the statue of Our Lady, the teeming humanity which crowded every available inch of space sung to cried of “Viva la Virgen!” amidst the detonation of rising rockets, blare of band music and ringing of church bells.
MSGR. GUILLERMO PIANI crowns the image of our Lady of Penafrancia
To the visiting prelates and laity there was something more than the success and brilliance of the affair that they could ill afford to pass unnoticed. The whole credit would have naturally gone to the incumbent bishop, had there been one. But they were the guests of a vacant see. Who were their hosts? Two figures loomed prominently as the rains of the event that made history, two future bishops from the Bikol clergy: Frs. Francisco S. Reyes and Casimiro M. Lladoc
OF PENA DE LA FRANCIA, officiated by the ApostolicDelegate to the Philippines, 
Msgr. G. Piani in the afternoon of 24 Sept. 1924.Extreme right: Sponsors of the ceremony, 
Gov. Manuel Crescini of CamarinesSur and Dna. Antonia Pardo.
A year later, on July 4, 1925, the happy and long-expected tidings of Pope Pius XI’s appointment of Msgr. Reyes to be bishop of Nueva Caceres was received in the Bikol region. He had been proclaimed in secret consistory in Rome the previous June 20. Eight years later, Father Lladoc received the mitre, as first bishop of Bacolod.
BIKOL'S PATRONESS, as she appeared at her coronation.
When on September 19, 1925,Bishop Reyes received consecration at his cathedral, Naga once again became a center of pilgrimage.It was at the same time, the first anniversary of the coronation of Our lady, and almost all the same dignitaries who had taken oart at the previous year’s pageant were in attendance. Msgr. Piani, the Apostolic Delegate, was the consecrator. Co-consecrators were the bishops of Nueva Segovia,  Msgr.Peter Hurth and of Lipa, Alfredo Versoza.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016



Sta. Elena Chapel, 1952
The historic barangay of Sabang in Baliuag, Bulacan was the site of a bloody battle between Americans, led by army officer Henry Lawton, and the native revolucionarios in 1899. In its visita located along the highway can be found the image of the patroness of the barangay—Sta, Elena (St. Helen), the empress mother of Constantine the Great, who is regarded as the finder of the True Cross on which Christ was crucified.

 It is said that she found several crosses after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. To determine which was the True Cross of Christ, the crosses were laid one at a time on the coffin of a dead youth. The third cross that was placed on the coffin brought the youth back to life, thus identifying it as the one True Cross.

STA. ELENA, as she appeared in 1993, 

Sta. Elena has always had a special appeal to Bulakenyos as the province popularized the tradition of Flores de Mayo tradition began in 1865 after Msgr. Mariano Villena Sevilla wrote “Dalit kay Maria”, better known as “Flores de Mayo”, which in turn was based on Italy’s “Misa de Maggio”. An attendant event of the Maytime rite is the Santacruzan, which features the leading character “Reyna Elena” in the evening procession that celebrates the finding of the True Cross.


 Sabang shares the patronage of Sta. Elena with the people of Hagonoy. During the May fiesta of Sta. Elena, the image is taken down from the altar—which is flanked by their secondary patrons San Agustin and San Roque, and processioned on the streets of Sabang.

FINDERS' KEEPRS. Note the santa's big alms bag. 2014 Procession.

The santa is dressed in her new vestments, accessorized her attributes: a crown, symbol of royalty; an alms bag to denote her charity, and a tall cross, At one time, she was made to hold a sword, which has been removes since.

PAHALIK. Traditional Kissing of the True Cross.

Before the santa is placed on her decorated carroza, a “pahalik” of the cross is conducted, involving the kissing of the cross by devotees. Preceding her are the figures of San Agustin and San Roque, also borne on their carroza. The festivities also feature majorette exhibitions, talent and band competition,


Tradition has it that Sta. Elena brought earth from Golgotha which was spread on the present site of the Vatican Gardens. She is also credited with finding the Holy Tunic of Christ, the crucifixion nails and pieces of the rope with which Jesus was tied on the Cross, now at the Stavrovouni Monastery.

Courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano.
youtube, screen cap: Sta. Elena Fiesta 2014

Thursday, December 1, 2016


By Patty F. Mapa
Originally published on 2 January 1959, Weekly Women’s Magazine

A local newsman on being shown the ruins of the Pantheon in Acropolis during the course of a conducted tour of the once mighty isle of Greece remarked to his guide in mock disbelief,”You mean these ruins have been here for hundreds of years and you haven’t done anything about them? Why, look at Manila. It was razed to the ground during the last war but look at it now.”

 Although said in fun, this remark is indicative of the attitude of a majority of our people. One of the latest to deplore this lack of artistic values is Prof. Galo Ocampo of the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Fine Arts, who is one of the country’s foremost painters.

Designated by Archbishop Rufino J. Santos of Manila to collect religious antiques for an archdiocese museum which has been given ample space in the new Cathedral building.

Prof.Ocampo laid slow siege on old parish churches throughout the country. The results were not very encouraging. Not because there is a dearth of religious antiques in the Philippines, for sacristies throughout the islands hold a wealth of liturgical items and religious objects of arts, but because custom and habit have contributed to the mutilation of these remaining heirlooms.

Take a typical Filipino town getting ready for its annual town fiesta. Since the reason for a town fiesta is very often, if not always a religious one, a procession is usually the order of the day. Now.processions must have images or statues of saints to grace the occasion; so the townspeople either acquire anew statue or look over their stock of blessed facsimiles.

They find an anay-infested wood-carved image, aged but whose delicate workmanship is still in evidence. To the horror of people like Prof. Ocampo, they cover it with a garish coat of silver paint, which to these simple people is like restoring it to new life.

Or take the once dignified façade of a local parish church. The cracks in the stone carved wall do not please the devout, church-going parishioners; so they patched it up with more paint and galvanized iron, all, of course, with the best of intentions.

In all fairness to the town fiesta devotee, it must be mentioned here that this naivete is not confined to this country alone but to other countries as well.

 This disheartening (both to the collector and the artist) state of affairs prompted the archbishopric of Manila to send out a circular to all parish priests and heads of Catholic schools and colleges entreating them to turn over to of to appraise the archbishopric’s office of “any existence in their respective jurisdiction of any museum items which may be properly displayed and authenticated”.

The inspiration for the establishment of the archdiocesan museum itself came to Archbishop Santos during a visit to the Catedral San Francisco el Grande in Madrid, in the company of Prof. Ocampo. After seeing the church’s sacristy resplendent with religious antiques from all over Spain, he conceived of an idea for a Cathedral Museum.

One drawback in the complete collection of these antqiues is the competiton the museum committee has to contend against rich private collectors. Poor parishes have only been only too willing to sell an antique for much needed cash for the maintenance of parish schools and charitable projects. 

However, the request for the collection and preservation of these religious artifacts is slowly yielding results. Already in the possession of the archbishop’soffice are items from the estate of the late Archbishop O’Dougherty. Belongings of the late Archbishop Gabriel Reyes were also donated by his relatives in Cebu.

The ornately carved Nozaleda chair owned by one of Manila’s most unpopular archbishops, Mons. Bernardino Nozaleda (1889-1899), and long in the possession of the Earnshaw family who sold it to Mrs. Bachrach who in turn sold it to Club Filipino, was also donated to the new museum. Most recent acquisitions of the archbishop’s office is an old chasuble with a unique and distinctive design donated by the parish church of Bocaue, Bulacan.

 During the course of his scouting trips as chairman-in-charge of the collectionof the museum items, Prof. Ocampo came upon some finds.One is a gattered old painting of the Immaculate Conception, found in the parish church of Baras, Rizal. Clearly a collector’s item, it ahd been shelved, almost forgotten,in the sacristy only to be salvaged by Prof. Ocampo. Still another painting, a beautiful Madonna and Child signed “ Angeletti” and dated in the 17th or 18th century, was recovered from the pro-Cathedral school in Tayuman street.

Along the bay towns of Laguna, Prof. Ocampo discovered exquisitely carved reliquaries whose workmanship has been unfortunately refurbished with an ungainly coat of paint.

Wood-carved statues of St. Augustine and St. Anthony de Padua turned up, also bathed in cheap paint, in Binangonan, Rizal. In the possession of the artist is a capital from the one of the limestone-carved columns of the original Manila Cathedral. Also up for exhibition are portraits of the former archbishops of Manila and their coat-of-arms.

 With the cooperation of the parish priest and the possible donations from private collectors, the new Archdiocesan Museum should soon become a “fitting repository to the historical and liturgical relics and heirlooms of Catholic Philippines”.

Thursday, November 24, 2016



 Paco was an old arrabal or district of Manila that used to be called “dilao” (yellow), from the color of turmeric, that used to grow in the area. It became San Fernando de Dilao after its Franciscan foudners, and was expanded to include Santiago, Peña de Francia and Dilao. It is also the site of a famous church built from 1809-1814 by Fray Bernardo de la Concepcion in honor of Nuestro Señor Padre de Sto. Sepulcro, also known as Señor de Paco.

PHOTO, Kendrick Dominic Yu.

 The ancient image represents the dead Christ in repose, and—like the revered Nazareno in Quipao Church-- has become the center of a long-standing tradition began centuries ago by its devotees who believe it to be endowed with miraculous powers.

PHOTO SOURCE: la, Kendrick Dominic Yu.

 The Santo Sepulcro, housed in its magnificent calandra or an elaborately carved wood and glass casket, and is taken out during its feast day in the month of August for a procession. The calandra with the Señor is borne on the shoulders of chosen male devotees, but unlike the rowdy Quiapo procession, the Christ bearers march in cadence, in a more solemn, orderly manner.

 The age-old image has also become the inspiration of a few artworks featured on this spread:


 This antique black and white print, found in a house in Sta. Rita, Pampanga many years back seem to be the oldest print of the Santo Sepulcro of Paco. The dead Christ is in his grand calandra, flanked by Nicodemus and San Jose de Arimatea, two personages who helped in the interment of Christ after the crucifixion in Calvary. The inscription promises special indulgences to those who pray before the image of the Señor, and bears the date 1814, under the term of Archbishop Juan Antonio Zulaibar.

STO. SEPULCRO DE DILAO, Antique painting on tin. 8 X 10".

 This rare and small painting of the Santo Sepulcro was obviously copied from the old print, minus Nicodemus and Jose Arimatea. It is a painting on tin, very similar to Mexican retablos. 

STO. SEPULCRO TIN PAINTING. Personal Collection.

Only 8” x 10”, the tin painting retains its original colors although its two corners have been trimmed. It was purchased from an antique dealer at the Philcite antique pavilions way back in the late 1980s.

STO. SEPUCLRO IVORY MASK FIGURE. Source: Images of Faith, by
Regalado Trota Jose. Cas Manila, Intramuros Collection

 A 19th century Santo Sepulcro with a 7 cm. ivory mask outfitted on a wooden body. The figure is encased in awood and glass calandra. Although it is not specifically identified as a representation of the Paco Christ, it was displayed at the piece Casa Manila in Intramuros along with a Santo Sepulcro embroidered art.

DETAIL OF THE STO, SEPULCRO, Embroidered art. 1817.

 Another unusual Santo Sepulcro depicting the dead Christ of Dilao was once on exhibit at Casa Manila in Intramuros. It is an exquisite example of monastic art, showing the dead Christ, with a face of ivory mounted on fabric, with all the other details painstakingly embroidered with gold thread.

STO. SEPULCRO OF PACO, Embroidered art, formerly exhibited at Casa
Manila, Intramuros.

Again, the old 1814 print seems to have been the basis of this very rare piece which is dated 1817. The artwork is double framed—first with a rectangular frame trimmed with silver panels with beaten rococo design, then encased in an octagonal frame.

whose 2 photos of the Sto. Sepulcro are used here, taken from his blog:

Saturday, November 19, 2016


FOLK RELIEVE of the Virgin and Child Jesus, with angels in attendance.
Excerpted from a 1965 Sunday Times Magazine article 
by Rodolfo Y. Ragodon 

Exhibit of Religious Art in Cebu IV Centennial Festivities Traces Evolution of Filipino Christian Way of Life 
ANTONIO BANTUG, one of the early santo collectors in the Philippines.
The biggest collection of Philippine artifacts from primitive religious images to icon-like paintings and some of the best representatives of contemporary arts have been gathered this year in Cebu for exhibition in commemoration of the 4th centennial celebration of the Christianization of the islands.


This collection of religious arts revolves around the Filipino way of life, its customs and mores; in other words, it traces the development of our Hispanic culture today from the time that our forefathers embraced the Christian way of life. These artifacts—many borrowed from private collectors and from the collections of the National Museum—are mostly wooden images that date back to as far back as the 17th century.

ECCE HOMO BUST, Bust of Christ, centuries-old.
The early images carved by Filipino artisans, though crude and primitive, are just as significant. The number of sculptured images which adorn the early churches in the country came from Mexico through the galleon trade.

The intricately carved images mostly come from Central Luzon, especially from the province of Pampanga. Some of these images were carved from hardwood like molave or kamagong. The zeal for collecting these age-old artifacts of religious images spread only after the war.

National Museum Director, UST Professor
However, collectors like the Bantugs, the Pardo de Taveras and the Hidalgos were among the few Filipinos who took notice of Philippine arts during the Spanish period.

The flowering of the Filipino sculpture during the Spanish regime came in the 19th century.The factors that brought about the development include the natural skills of the native carvers, the presence of competent critics and the arrival of well-made images from Spain and Mexico.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


CANOPY BED FOR A NINO DORMIDO. Made from a trinket box, silver
charms glued together, and other metal scraps. Trimmed with lace.

The works of young artist King Nicolai Viray are largely unknown except for his postings on his facebook page—and this was where I chanced upon him and his amazing vintage-style sacred art creations that beautifully captured the old-world feel of religious colonial art.

Viray, a fresh 2016 graduate and philosophy major of Mater Boni Consilii in San Fernando, Pampanga is a shy, unassuming 22 year-old, who was drawn to religious arts early.

His artistic leanings may have come from his genes—his maternal grandmother crafted shadow box arts that were taught in Catholic schools at the turn of the 20th century. His paternal grandmother was a Manansala-a relative of national artist Vicente Silva Manansala of Macabebe.
A school project, depicting a stained
glass, made from colored cellophanes

 As a kid, Viray drew figures of saints; even his art school projects had religious themes. It was no surprised that his early interest influenced his calling: he was accepted as a seminarian at Pampanga’s premiere seminary, Mother of Good Counsel seminary.

 Viray used to visit the Archdiocese Museum in San Fernando, which led to a chance meeting with Msgr. Gene Reyes, then parish priest of Sta. Rita (now with San Fernando), and the museum director.

Msgr. Reyes recalls that Viray was fascinated with the religious shadow box collection there, and so he asked him if could replicate one for his small Sto. Niño. Msgr. Reyes liked what he did and, pretty soon, he asked him to try his hand at some other old paper art forms like quilling (paper roll art).  Viray not only mastered that through self-study, but also quickly learned paper fretwork, tole and miniature art. Here is a survey of some of his outstanding vintage-style religious art:

 DRAWINGS. Viray’s intricate sketches evoke the style of old religious black and white engravings. Santos and santas are his favorite subjects—featured alone or shown enshrined in the altar niches or baldachins.

SAN FERNANDO, pen and ink.

SAN AGUSTIN DE HIPPO. Pen and ink drawing.


MATER DOLOROSA. Pen and ink.

PAPER CUT ART. The art of paper cutting dates back to the 4th century after the Chinese invented paper. Some of their earliest uses for papercutting were for religious decorations or stencils used in holy pictures or estampitas. Several Philippine crafts employ paper cutting-including cut paper fretwork decoration used in Christmas lanterns or parols. There is also the art of pabalát (wrapper), where paper is meticulously cut with small scissors to wrap pastillas (milk candy) and other traditional sweets. During the Victorian age, cutting out silhouettes of people and sceneries became a favorite pastime.

VERONICA'S VEIL. replicated antique estampita. Cut and pierced paper,
photocopied image of the Holy Face.

SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA. Fretwork background from cut  paper.

INMACULADA CONCEPCION. Replicated antique lace estampita.
Scanned copy, handcut paper.

 PAPER QUILLING. Quilling or paper filigree involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, looped, shaped, and glued together to create decorative patterns and designs. These were used to decorate religious pictures that were then encased in boxes . During the Renaissance, European nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. They used strips of paper trimmed from the gilded edges of books. These gilded paper strips were then rolled to create the quilled shapes. Quilling often imitated the original ironwork of the day.

AGNUS DEI PAPER QUILL ART. Cream colored paper strips were rolled and
manipulated into shapes, then glued to form the background for the Lamb of
God paper cutout

VIRGEN MARIA. Scanned copy of holy picture, with fretwork background,
trimmed with paper roll art and metallic foil flowers.

IVORY NINO. Adorend with quilled paper rolls arranged in floral patterns,
trimmed with lace paper and encased in oval frame.

RELIGIOUS SHADOW BOXES.A shadow box is a glass-fronted case containing thematic religious object presented in an artistic grouping with artistic grouping. They are the most common example of so-called “monastic” art found in Philippine homes, usually home-made or done as school projects. The simplest involves decorating prints of religious figures with paper, fabric or mother-of-pearl flowers, accentuated with beads, foil, cork birds and glass. Others entail “dressing up” individual figures by manipulating pieces of fabrics to simulate the folds on their vestments. Viray’s shadow boxes includes paper tole—in which he cuts and pastes parts of identical religious prints, building up these cutout portions using glue, to create a three-dimensional picture.


SALVADOR DEL MUNDO. Paper cut out of Nino, dressed in folded and
pleated fabrics, surrounded by paper cherubims and paper flowers

Decorated with assorted plastic gems from craft stores.

SAN VICENTE FERRER. Tole art, with paper quilling decoration.

STO. TOMAS DE AQUINAS. Paper cutout of
the saint, dressed in real fabrics.Cotton, lace, flowers.

STO NINO DELA PASION. Dressed paper cut-out figure,
old cross pendant. chains. 

RELIQUARY ART. A reliquary is a container for relics--actual physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures. Many relic casings are simple, but when they are presented before an audience, they are encased in magnificent monstrance-like holders. Others are framed in groups, and decorated for display purposes.

RELIQUARY MONSTRANCE. Made from the handles of
a silver spoon,  old halo, crystal gems, old ribbon brooch. 

PAPAL RELICS, with added pictures of Pope John Paul II
and Pope John Paul XXIII and metallic mini-decor.

SANTOS AND SANTO VESTMENTS. Another hobby of Viray is fashioning and dressing up santos—many received as gifts from friends. Some of these santos are commercially made, but this does not deter him from giving free rein to his creativity, while sticking to dressing traditions.

LORETTO KINDLEIN OF SALZBURG. A Nino replica of the Holy Child
of Salzburg, Germany.

VIRGEN DE CAYSASAY. A resin image of Our Lady of Caysasay was placed
on a gilt base, wigged and dressed with acape trimmed with appliques.

fashioned from an Japan surplus Japanese doll.

PADRE PIO. A wooden figure of the stigmatic saint dressed in a
chasuble and alb.

MINIATURES. Viray has managed to replicate retablos (church altars) in miniature, using available materials—resin statues of saints, wood, cardboard, foil and paper scraps.

RETABLO MAYOR. A main altar made from cardboard, wood,
and other paper trims. Small iamges are store-bought.

 Of late, the young artist has been accepting a limited number of commissions, despite his busy schedule. He is currently taking his regency (time off from the seminary ) and is working at the local DPWH as administrative aide. Meanwhile, Viray continues to amaze his facebook friends (and fans) with his regular postings of his creations. His body of work is very impressive, considering that he does these beautiful objects in his spare time, and only at his leisure.

CHURCH BANNER. Sta. Maria de Cabeza. 

 What’s more extraordinary is his use of everyday materials and found objects to create exquisite treasures. In his hands, cheap charms bought from Divisoria become decorations for a Niño Dormido’s canopy bed, while a silver-colored plastic container is transformed into an elegant santo base. Even plain paper, when painstakingly pierced and cut by Viray, becomes a delicate lace background for estampitas. His works are destined to be priceless treasures, worthy to be collected and enjoyed.

 Indeed, the future of devotional art looms bright, thanks to the amazing gift of King Nikolai Viray.