Friday, July 1, 2016

257. Guagua's Dolorous Virgins III: THE LIMSON DOLOROSA (SOLEDAD)

Photo: Budhi, From Guagua to Quiapo by Jose Ma. Zaragoza.

 Hailed as one of the most beautiful Dolorosas in the country, the antique ivory Dolorosa of the Limson Family of Guagua is an iconic Lenten image of the town, spoken with the same awe and reverence as the Sto. Sepulcro of the Infante-Velez Family.

 The Limsons are an old Chinese family who settled in Guagua and are presumed to have been known by their Chinese name Sonson Lin. The earliest known Limsons were a generation of siblings who lived in the early 1800s—Vicente, Pascuala and another brother whose name has been lost to memory.

 This nameless brother begot Diego Limson (ca. late 1850s-early 1860s) who married Severina Jingco. It was during Diego’s time that the existence of the ivory Dolorosa was recorded through oral history, so the age of 300 years attributed to the santo may not be a realistic estimate.

 In any case, what is correct was that the image was passed on through Diego’s line of descendants; in fact, the image was named Soledad after Diego’s first great-grandchild. The antique ivory figure was inherited by Diego’s only son, Don Guillermo Limson (ca.1880s) who had two sons, and three other children out-of-wedlock. (It is interesting to note that Guillermo’s youngest sister, Jacinta Limson, married Alejandro Lopez, who ordered a Dolorosa from Spain expressedly to replace the Bacani Dolorosa which was withdrawn by the owners from the Holy Wednesday procession).

 The Limsons’ Virgen de Soledad, a titular variant of the dolorous Virgin, has a head and hands of ivory. The head rests on a half-bust, with manikin arms and wooden framework for her lower body. When assembled, the Soledad stands 5 feet 7 inches tall, rostrillo included.

 During the last World War, the image was desecrated by the Japanese, broken in pieces, placed in a sack and stashed away forgotten in a vault. When rediscovered, the pieces were put back together again and the ivory Soledad was fully restored. The metal crown and the pierced heart of the Soledad are made of silver. Its original manto was taken by the late restorer and vestment maker Carlos Mercado of Sasmuan, who must have transferred the design on new velvet, as the design, as recalled by descendants remained unchanged.

 Today, the Limson Dolorosa or Soledad is still in service, with its own carroza triunfal that replicates the design of the magnificent carroza created for the Lopez’s Macarena. It is lovingly cared for and attended to by Limson descendants. Then, as now, she continues to grace the Good Friday processions of Guagua, as well as the Salubong rites, continuing a hallowed tradition that have become so much a part of the lives of devoted Guagueños for generations.

Photos: Ralph Laurence sales, flickr
Toto Gonzalez, Dr/ Dindo Limson Juco

Limson family tree, online

Online Interview with Dr. Dindo Limson Juco
Jerry Punzalan Sagmit

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