Sunday, June 19, 2016

255. Guagua’s Dolorous Virgins I: THE LOPEZ DOLOROSA

in its own silver-plated carroza triunfal, 1952

Through the years, Guagua, Pampanga has taken pride in having not just the most beautiful Dolorosa images in the region but also in having a pool of several statues of the sorrowful Virgin that are used in their Lenten celebrations.

One well-known Mater Dolorosa that exists to this day is the statue commissioned by town millionaire Don Alejandro Lopez. Married to Jacinta Limson, Lopez had humble beginnings. As a teaching graduate of the Philippine Normal School, he taught at Pampanga High School from 1912-1913, and rose to succeed Benito Pangilinan as a Division Superintendent of the Bureau of Education.

 In 1920, he engaged in commerce and agriculture, where he found his fortune and rose to prominence as director and vice president of the Pampanga Sugar Mills Planters Association. For his wife, he built the grand Villa Jacinta, the first all-concrete residence in Pampanga in 1929, at a cost of Php28,000.

 One of the sure signs of wealth in those days was the ownership of a religious image. When the Dolorosa of the Bacani family ceased to join the Holy Wedneday procession of Guagua after the war, Don Alejandro Lopez proceeded to order a beautiful wooden Mater Dolorosa image all the way from Spain.

 The wooden processional Dolorosa was created by an unknown sculptor from a taller in Madrid, Spain called Casa Garin. The shop, which also sold other religious articles for worship, operated until 2004. The classically carved Dolorosa, with its beautiful mournful features, had only a wooden conical frame for its lower body, without legs or feet. It was outfitted with a silver rostrillo and a silver heart pierced with 7 daggers.

 The Spanish-made Dolorosa was shipped to the Philippines and arrived in Guagua in 1952. Even as it was being made, Lopez also ordered from Victoriano Songco of the Catholic Trade Center, a magnificient carroza fit for the Dolorosa. (Siongco, in a few years, would also make the replica of the Virgen de los Remedios, patroness of Pampanga).

 The result was a grand carroza triunfal, shaped like a chariot, which was wrapped in silver-plated panels. The float was prefaced by two trumpet bearing angels up front, and light-carrying standing angels flanking its sides. The border of the carroza was lined with cherubs and puttis.

 On 9 April 1952, the Lopez’ Mater Dolorosa, arrayed in richly-embroidered vestments was enthroned on her fabulous carroza triunfal, and was blessed and inaugurated at the Villa Jacinta with the family and VIP guests in attendance.

 For years, the Mater Dolorosa participated in the Holy Wednesday processions of Guagua, but when the patriarch passed away, disputes of the heirs over family property caused the Dolorosa and the carroza to be assigned ownership to a male heir, who entrusted it for safekeeping to a neighbor. Recently, it was reported in local news that the silver accessories of the Dolorosa were stolen, but it was widely believed that they were sold by one descendant. Only the cape or manto survived.

The future of the Lopez Mater Dolorosa remains uncertain; its carroza triunfal has been duplicated as it has also broken down;  this new carroza is now in use to convey the antique Limson ivory Dolorosa for the annual Viernes Santo and Salubong rites.

NOTE: One of the last appearances of the Lopez Dolorosa (popularly called Macarena)  was in the Holy Wednesday procession of Guagua in 1992. Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano.

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