Monday, August 8, 2016


Our Lady Of Mount Carmel of the Ocampos of Quiapo
from the talleres de Nepomuceno, ca. late 1920s.

One of the most fabulous residences in historic Quiapo belonged to the wealthy Jose Mariano De Los Reyes Ocampo, lawyer, real estate proprietor and collector of arts and antiques. His father, Mariano Ocampo, was an acquaintance of the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

Ocampo owned a 1-hectare estate on both sides of the Estero de Quiapo, and on this sprawling compound, he built his mansion in 1892, in the wood and stone style. Behind the mansion, on the other side of the estero, he built an unusual structure that would come to define his residence.

This was the 3-storey “Pagoda”, built from 1936-1941, the owner’s vision of a Japanese castle. The tower was filled with Eastern imageries like dragons and cranes, but others were imagined from his own cosmic vision—like the figure of a mythical god with raised arms, standing on a giant snake, tongues of flames hovering above him.

A Catholic, he filled his estate with stone statues of saints--but the most commanding was a giant statue of our Lady of Mount Carmel sthat stood on a multi-colored globe. Over time, the estate was divided among the Ocampo heirs--Leonardo, Trinidad, Filomena, Blesilda (Miss Philippines 1954) Lucina and Gloria.

Eventually, the property was sold to differen buyers, and over time, the Ocampo mansion and the Pagoda fell into disarray. Miraculously, the spectacular stone image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel managed to survive to this day, crowded by tenement housing.

The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, according to Jose’s youngest daughter, Gloria was created in the late 1930’s by a Nepomuceno sculptor--but it could not be the famed religious sculptor Marcelo Nepomuceno who had died in the late 20s. Further research finally revealed the name of Graciano Nepomuceno--in tandem with Anastacio Caedo--as the real maker of the Virgin on a globe.The patriarch was known to be a devotee of the Carmel Virgin, whose old ivory image was housed nearby San Sebastian Church.

 The Carmel statue, fancifully called “Mundo” by the people in the Ocampo compound, shows the seated Virgin holding the Child Jesus sitting on a giant globe.The globe is borne by seven allegorical figures who represent the people of the seven continents of the world. Beside the bearers’ feet are prayers in different languages.

 The statue was inherited by daughter Trinidad who gently reminded the people of the Ocampo Compound--“Huwag galawin ang Mundo”. After all, image has long been considered miraculous. It is said that after a generous woman had the statue repainted, her business flourished. In 2007, a a fire in the Ocampo Compound gutted down many house, but left the statue unscathed, with the blaze stopping just short of Her. But while no one dared to vandalize or desecrate the image, the Carmel Virgin was sadly neglected, abandoned and seemingly forgotten.

When Trinidad died in 2006, her daughter Rina Caniza inherited the statue of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel. A comment from her cousin—who noted how beautiful the statue was but which was just enclosed in a small lot, boxed by 3 houses—prompted Rina to embark on a personal project: to see if the image could be adopted by a Carmelite church, so that the Holy Virgin would be accessible to more people and devotees. So, she approached the parish priest of Mount Carmel Church in Manila and shared her plan.

 It was providential that the Mount Carmel Church was being renovated and had become a national shrine. Rina’s religious donation was easily approved. But with the property so crowded, the only way out for the statue was to use the back property led to to a main road. However, that property had been sold to a private individual, who willingly gave her permission to use her lot to access the Virgin.

 The next challenge was to look for a means to transport the 30 foot-tall image from Quiapo to New Manila, which was partly buried in the ground and weighs between ten to fifteen tons. The job requires more than excavation, but also earth-moving work with heavy equipment. Again, a friend of Rina’s led to an introduction to a contractor who generously agreed to excavate and transport the image to its new location for free. The ideal date for the transfer was July 16, 2016, the feast of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel, but a new date has been set.

 We look forward to the day that Our Lady of Mount Carmel have her new home at her very own church grounds—where she will continue to shower her graces to a new generation of Filipino devotees, as in the years gone by.


  1. She was recently transferred already to Carmel New Manila and people now started to flock the Virgin once again. She is placed at the backside of the Church near the Columbarium.

    1. Yes, I was present at the transfer.

    2. Hopefully there will be plans for a proper restoration of the image to its original beauty.

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  5. I am amazed by the amount of effort that was taken to save and transport the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It's truly remarkable. I'm happy to see such a beautiful Catholic statue saved for future generations.