Wednesday, May 11, 2016

250. 50 Years After: VIRGEN DE LOURDES of BARRIO TALANG, CANDABA

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, patroness of Brgy. Talang, Candaba,
as she appear today, and in 1966.

In 1966, the barrio of Talang, in Candaba, Pampanga was featured on the December 25 issue of Sunday Times Magazine, then the country’s most popular weekend magazine, in an article entitled “Christmas in Huklandia”.

THE OLD VISITA OR CHAPEL, in 1966.

 Back then, Talang was a remote and impoverished barrio of Candaba, where Huk dissidence marred the quest for peace and progress of this rural place. But though mired in poverty, the faith of the barrio people remained unshaken. All because of their devotion to their patroness that they kept in a ramshackle “visita” or chapel that stood in the middle of the small clearing: Virgen de Lourdes or Our Lady of Lourdes.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES and Lourdesenian Youth Group.

 The Virgen de Lourdes in 1966 was described thus, by the writer of the article: “It is not a well-sculptured, richly-garbed, bejeweled icon that lords it over the rough-hewn archaic facsimile of an altar here. Instead, the four-foot image of our Lady of Lourdes, seemingly embarassed by the provincial touches of imitation,gaudy adornment, hides within the principal niche above the altar. There are no tall candles on gleaming candlesticks, to light up her sad-eyed, benign features with, and the flowers,still to be picked from some garden plot by her devotees, are conspicuous by their absence on the two-tiered facade flanking her post.” 

The people of Talang have their own pressing needs, but during the Christmas season, they put priority to the needs of their patroness first. In the days leading to Christmas day, the barrio folks unite to go on fund-raising initiatives; for 1966, the objective was to raise money for the Virgen’s carroza. 

DANCING FOR ALMS, Talang barrio folks go from town
to town, to raise funds by dancing.

 The Lourdesenian youth groups would organize themselves into carolers and venture out of their barrio, carrying the image of the Virgen with them as they sing for alms. Adults, on the other hand, become itinerant dancers, going from town to town to dance for alms for their church’s patron. For them all, the days are rich in love and goodness and goodwill, even as violence rage menacingly along the periphery of their private lives.

THE CHAPEL, then and now.

There is a happy postscript to the story of the Lourdes Virgin and the barangay Talang, after fifty long years.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES CHAPEL INTERIOR.

The once-decrepit wooden visita is now a modern concrete structure—now known as Virgen de Lourdes Parish Chapel-- with a floor area, many times bigger than the old chapel, carved pews and stained glass windows. It was established in 1983 through the efforts of Fr. Nolasco Fernandez.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, in the chapel that was built
in 1983. Photo: Dr. Raymund Feliciano.

Bright and well-lit, it features main retablo and lateral altars, the right side of which houses the original Lourdes image, the same revered icon that was featured in a magazine over five decades ago.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, Photo: Dr. Raymund
Feliciano

Virgen de Lourdes even sports a new globe base, and a kneeling figure of the visionary St. Bernadette has also been added.

 As for Barrio Talang, it has indeed, moved forward. Thankfully, the Huk unrest that plagued Candaba and the barrio in the 60s has abated. Today, the barangay has its own own barangay hall, elementary and high schools and is dotted with many leisure farms that attract visitors from Pampanga and beyond, especially during their February fiesta days (Feb. 10-11).

OUR LADY OF LOURDES, pray for us.

 Resident devotees will always attribute their changing fortunes to the workings of Virgen de Lourdes; but undeniably, it is also the people’s resilience and unwavering faith in a time of hate and discord that has served them well, as the once-lowly barrio continues its strive for lasting peace and enduring progress.

 SOURCE: “Christmas in Huklandia”, Sunday Times Magazine, by Gloria Garchitorena Goloy, Photographed by Dominador Suba, 25 December 1966

PHOTO CREDITS: 

Virgen de Lourdes: Taken by Dr. Raymund Feliciano
Virgen de Lourdes Parish / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Virgen_de_Lourdes_Parish_Church_(Talang,_Candaba,_Pampanga)

5 comments:

  1. I would like to add up some information regarding the establishment of Talang Parish. It was established through the efforts of Rev, Fr. Larry Sarmiento, then Parish Priest of Nuestra Senora de la Merced Parish, because of the vast number of barrios under the care of the Bahay Pare/Dela Merced Parish. It was separated on the year 1983 and the first Parish Priest is Fr. Nolasco Fernandez, to which the era the Bahay Pare Parishioners donated a lot so that the small chapel would be a large church. Mommy Julie Garpo also donated a larger Virgen which is enthroned at the Retablo Mayor.

    Thanks Sir Castro! I hope I have given a little help to your well-done article.

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  2. Thank you for the added information! Imagine, the Virgen of Talang was written about in a national magazine half a century ago!!

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  3. So, Sir Castro, based on your pictures, the Virgen de Lourdes was not replaced as claimed by other old folks who posit that their Virgen was replaced/exchanged with that of Subic Chapel, Baliuag Bulacan during one time when both images were repaired on the same shop at the same time. The pictures you published look familarly the same. Thanks Sir Castro.

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    1. Yes, that story angle--where the antique original was swiped with a new one--came to light in one discussion. Maybe a further examination of the image is necessary. It's hard comparing a black and white photo with a recent colored one.

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