Thursday, February 2, 2017

283. Marian Image: OUR LADY OF THE BARANGAY of the "Barangay sang Birhen" Movement

Sunday Times Magazine Cover, Oct. 11,1959

“Barangay Sang Birhen” was a lay Catholic movement that was started in Cadiz, Negros Oriental in 1949, by lay person Antonio Gaston with Henry del Castillo. In its first 10 years, it had become the country’s biggest Catholic mass organization, with aims  to preserve the integrity of the Filipino family, its spiritual unity, cultural distinction and and economic self-sufficiency. By 1959, it had over 2 million member families nationwide.

From the Sta. Monica Parish Minalin FB Page

In the mid 1950s, movement leaders commissioned professional and amateur artists to paint a portrait of a Virgin that they hope would be the official image of their patroness.  None had succeeded in executing the portrait to the satisfaction of the leaders.

ARCHBISHOP  YAP, at a leadership seminar, in Negros Occidental

In 1955, Father Pixner, who ministered to the inmates of the Santa Barbara Leper Colony in Palawan, heard about the search, and presented the idea to Crisogono A. Domingo, a leper in his early 30s, whose only art background was as a laborer-helper to a house painter. He decided to take on the assignment, and, after praying 3 Hail Marys, began painting on a blank canvass.

BALINTAWAK-CLAD LADIES in a Barangay Sang Birhen procession

The finished painting showed the Mother and Child overlooking a village with groups of five houses near the seas. The artist had painted from memory a portion of the shoreline of his native Davao Gulf.  The faces of the Mother and Child were foreign, but the Lady wore the balintawak, a Philippine native dress.

LADY OF BARANGAY local gameboard. 1959

At the foot of the Lady is a rock upon which the initials BV (Barangay of the Virgin) is engraved. The houses—in groups of 5—show the primary unit of the Barangay. Five families (which correspond to the 5 mysteries of the rosary)  living in a barangay together may form a Barangay Group, headed by a cabeza. Three groups become a unit of 15 families, while three units compose a Parish Trinity, who report to the Barangay Center headed by the parish priest and an organizational body of leaders.

A CLOSER VIEW OF OUR LADY, as drawn in the gameboard.

When the painting was brought to Msgr. Emmanuel Yap of the Negros archdiocese,  the scholarly archbishop made a hurried research whether the glowing crowns over the heads of the Mother and Child were faithful to the tenets of the church. They were. He acclaimed it to be a work of art, worthy to be venerated as the image of the Barangay patroness. Thus was born the image of “Our Lady of Barangay” that we know today.

A 1960s image of our Lady of the Barangay
in an antique shop.

On January 14, 1981, the original painting was brought back to Bacolod City for the  visit of the Holy Father where the image of the Birhen Sa Barangay was personally blessed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.

POSTCARD PHOTO: by Romy Hitosis

Since then, image in the painting has been replicated as sculpted 3-dimensional santo figures, some carved in the round, others to be dressed in the trademark balintawak dress. A shrine “Simbahan Lingin” is dedicated to Our Lady of Barangay in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.


  1. Thank you very much for your article featuring the Virgen Sang Barangay. I am very happy to see much interest on this devotion. For quite sometime, I have been researching on the web for articles, sites and images of the VSB. I am a devotee and an officer of the organization and it is my desire to continue to spread the devotion to our Lady. If it would not be a bother to you, may I furnish you a copy of the original text of the History of the Icon of the Virgen sang Barangay and when it was founded, so that, you can update your article. Kindly private message me on the facebook account of Barangay Sang Virgen - Diocese of Parañaque. Thank you very much. We continue to propagate our devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary. AVE MARIA.