Friday, October 11, 2019


NTRA. SRA. DEL ROSARIO, Panlilio-Santos Joven. Photo:Arwin Lingat

by: Floy Quintos
Reprinted from THE SUNDAY INQUIRER MAGAZINE , October 2, 2005 issue.

Lahar spelled death for the La Naval procession in Bacolor, Pampanga. This month, four La Sallians are bringing the tradition to the De La Salle Campus in Dasmarinas, Cavite so that students can begin their own tradition of homage to the Virgin.

The bucolic grounds of the Museo De La Salle in the Cultural Heritage Complex of the De La Salle campus in Dasmarinas, Cavite, are abuzz with student volunteers and museum personnel busy at work. Their task is a daunting one, perhaps a bit anachronistic in a campus where most of the students major in computer studies and nursing. They are restoring and assembling the largest extant 19th century Carroza Triunfal known, a massive yet graceful carroza of beaten silver.

For this October, the Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario de La Naval of Bacolor, Pampanga comes home to the De La Salle campus in Dasmarinas. And here, every October from now on, she will ride forth again. One can almost hear Nick Joaquin rhapsodizing about his most beloved of Marian festivals.

And when she does, fours sons of De La Salle will have fulfilled a vow to rekindle a devotion to the Naval. They are Brother Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, two-time president of the De La Salle University System, who was just last week installed as the first President Emeritus; Brother Edmundo Fernandez, FSC, the youngest Brother Provincial of the De La Salle community in the country and Brother Armin Luistro, FSC, current president of the De La Salle University Manila and, quite recently, an active participant in national causes.

Providing a delightful counterpoint to this august company is Jose Ma. Ricardo Panlilio, or Joey, Executive Director of the Museo De La Salle and connoisseur of all things pertaining to 19th century Philippine Illustrado style. All four come from diverse backgrounds, but share a quiet devotion spread among the De La Salle students.

For Joey, 41, the image of the Virgin and the attendant St. Joseph, the massive and priceless carro and the very tradition of honoring the La Naval are, at once, a remnant of childhood and a symbol of a painful rite of passage into the real world. The images last custodian was his paternal grandmother, the late Luz Sarmiento Panlilio, a grand dame of Bacolor, Pampanga, and elder sister to the fabulous jeweler Fe.

My childhood was greatly influenced by Inang Lucing, says Joey. I remember how the carro and the image of the virgen was the most important thing in her life. And how the entire year centered on the preparation for the November festival, which is when the La Naval was celebrated in Bacolor. My brothers and I were studying in La Salle and our immediate family was based in Manila. But every November just as the novena began, we had to come home. Inang Lucing would ask our parents to issue excuse letters. It was important to our family.


Joey, from a very young age, took a great interest in the preparation of the carro. Weeks before, the pieces were taken out from the camarin or warehouse for polishing, reconstructing, repairing. Inang would show me the lace and tissue that she had bought from her trips to Spain and involve me in the work. She would teach me the way the virgen must be dressed, the appropriate flowers, the appropriate music that the marching band would play. I just took to it naturally, it was all a part of my education in the traditions of the 19th century.

But such archaic minutae also had a fun side. Kapampangans are great eaters, and the day of the fiesta was one big celebration of Bacolor cuisine. We would wake at dawn to see the formal living room of the old house strewn with barongs. We would get into them and go to the high Mass. Then, we would come home to breakfast, a meal to which everyone in town was invited. At mid-morning, Segundo almuerzo, a heavy merienda was offered to all who had worked on the carro. Lunch was hectic because all the visitors from Manila would arrive, and it was a matter of Kapampangan pride that Inang offer them a table of the very best specialties.

NTRA. SRA. DEL ROSARIO in her Carroza Triunfal.

Then, at 3 p.m., another merienda for the latecomers from Manila. The parade would take place at around seven in the evening. And when we came home, there was a formal dinner in the main house, and food for everyone in the grounds below. It was exhausting, and even more so because at the crack of dawn the next day, my brothers would be herded into the car for the long drive back to school. I would stay an extra week to clean up and put everything back into place. My parents were not amused, especially my father. Looking back, I was really torn between two generations: Inangs which believed in tradition, and my own familys pragmatism and modernity! His mother, the writer Lourdes Abad-Panlilio, once whispered to Joey, just as the carroza was sweeping past in all its dazzling grandeur, You must always remember, hijo, the virgen was a simple woman.

Joey looks back with little nostalgia and lots of pragmatism. It was a feudal lifestyle, yes. But the one thing I most treasure about it is that it taught us to deal with everyone from all classes of life. It wasnt this stereotyped ideal of having caciques and tenants at your beck and call. Everything was community-based. We worked alongside the people who worked for us. We decorated the carro together, we ate together, we marched in the procession together. It was for the Virgin, that was the way we thought about it. It was a dying tradition even then. But in Bacolor, the procession was a source of community pride.


Sadly as Joey grew into adulthood, he saw the gradual loss of interest in the benighted tradition. It needed only the lahar to put an end to the procession, to that entire way of life.

Joey and his siblings must have been ready to say goodbye to it in 1990, when the Pinatubo eruption covered most of Bacolor in lahar. But Inang Lucing, well into her eighties, had other plans. I remember I told her that it would be difficult to organize an evacuation for the furniture and the household effects. She told me, What furniture? All we really need is the carro. It dawned on me that this feisty old woman had lived her entire life for only two things, her family and the virgen. We had to do it.


Inang, Joey and his brothers and a few friends from Manila went back in a 10-wheeler truck. She rode right up front next to the driver. We went back and tried to save as much as we could. Everyday, the lahar would rise a little higher, but we finally managed. On the long ride back, I started to complain. Inang was praying her rosary, but she stopped to say, at least we have somewhere to go. During the war, when I evacuated to the carro, there was nowhere to go. That certainly said a lot about Inang and her character. WE brought everything back and put it into storage. However, there was no more community, no more old friends and neighbors. The entire structure that had made the procession come alive was gone. And there was nothing she could do about that. Inang Lucing died in 1998, a shadow of her former self, but still an ardent devotee to the La Naval.

Brother Andrew Gonzalez FSC, former President of De La Salle University Manila, himself a descendant of the prosperous Arnedo-Gonzalez clan of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga, was no stranger to Kapampangan tradition. But Brother is one of the most forward-looking men Ive ever met. He admires the past, but he does not live in it. He knew we had saved all this stuff, he knew that it was in storage. He called me one day and said, Put all your memories of childhood into a place where students can learn about them. You have a responsibility to the future generation. The Museo De La Salle was born. As envisioned by Brother Andrew, it would be part of a cultural complex in the 27-Hectare De La Salle Dasmarinas campus, with the Aklatang Emilio Aguinaldo, the Campus Ministry Office and the Cavite Studies Center. All of a sudden, Joey who had been a practicing interior designer, had a new purpose in life. It was no problem to get the family donate everything to the new museum. It was the least painful way to say goodbye to memories.


Five years into operation, and the Museo De La Salle located in Dasmarinas, Cavite is not only one of the best-endowed museums in the country, it is also one of the most talked about. As Executive Director, Joey has managed some wonderful coups, such as important private donations, most notably the Guevarra Collection. His old-world tact and diplomacy, coupled with a wicked charm and serendipity, has gotten the museum many important bequests from the crème collectors. But it is his florid style of display, so true to the hyper-refined sensibility of the late 19th century, that make the museum truly unique.

Still, Joey says, It lacked, in Brother Andrew Gonzalez FSCs words, a spiritual center. Now that the museum is up and running, it seems the best time to bring out the Virgen again. It has been 14 years since she was last seen. But this time, it will be in a setting and at a time where she will give a different meaning to the festivities. And among young people who know nothing of Bacolor, Pampanga and the past, but who are ready to create their own traditions.


When the Virgen de la Naval of Bacolor rides forth again in the De La Salle Campus in Dasmarinas, Caviteon this month sacred to her and her devotees, there will be no more caciques and tenants, no proud matrons of feudal society, no children forced home from school to attend to her. Instead she will be pulled along by students who have volunteered for the honor of being her escorts. Perhaps, in Bacolor, she heard very different prayers - for better crops or kinder masters and cancelled debts. This time the prayers will be for exams, for careers, for much-needed jobs. No grand fetes, no groaning tables will mark her fiesta. Only the quiet admiration of a new community that is beginning something they can call their own. No need now for new jewels and crowns for this La Naval. 

Friday, August 9, 2019


CLAUDE MOISES TAYAG (b.1956), of Angeles City,  is not only a talented artist, furniture designer, sculptor, book author, columnist, award-winning chef and cultural activist—but his early interest included collecting antique santos. Not just any santo, mind you, but folk santos—the more naïve, the better. And they had to be of the right size too—no more than 8 inches.

The artist, who is known for his watercolors, immortalized his santos in a folio called “Imahen”, which came out in 1989. Of his 12 watercolor prints in the folio, the santo scholar Esperanza Bunag Gatbonton wrote: “Claude Tayag, by choosing to reanimate the work of the Filipino image carvers, has succeeded in catching our attention, persuading us to take a second look at these santos. Through his eyes, we recapture the carver’s creative impulses. We wonder anew at their perspicacity and talent”.

Three decades after the folio was published, Tayag has recently come up with book that compiles most of his watercolor works” “CLAUDE TAYAG: Watercolors 1974 to Present”. The book, recently launched last 12 July 2019 also had a counterpart exhibition which many of his original watercolor santos in his first folio, as well as new santo paintings were exhibited. Shown here are a selection from the exhibit.













Monday, July 22, 2019

332. Santo Stories: STA. VERONICA of SAN MATEO, RIZAL

San Mateo, Rizal has perhaps, one of the most organized Lenten processions in the region, with a little over 20 santos participating, a mix of the old and new. The oldest image is believed to be that of the STA. VERONICA, the woman who wiped Jesus’s face with a towel that cause His likeness to be imprinted on the cloth.
STA. VERONICA, Holy Tuesday, 2016
The processional image was originally owned by couple Victoriano (Maestro Bito) and Andrea Santos. The image, which had been carved in Pangil, Laguna in the 1800s, and which had participated in the early processions there, was brought to San Mateo in the 1930s, as Bito’s  wife hailed from there. Their STA. VERONICA has since been a regular participant in the annual Lenten rituals in the historic town.
STA. VERONICA, April 2019
When the Santos couple passed away, the image of STA. VERONICA was left in the care of their daughter, Mrs. Rosita Santos-Manahan. When, in her old age, she found it difficult to tend to the image, she passed it on to her only child, Tessa Jasminez-Manahan, who, with her family, has been caring for the antique image ever since.
The processional image shows the santa with a roundish, almost glum face. The sudarium that she holds unfolded with both hands, and which bears the painted impressions of the 3 Holy Faces, has been periodically changed.
TESSA JAZMINES, current caretaker, in glasses
All other original accessories, are still intact and complete, from her jewel-encrusted corona and paragua, brass appliques, right down to her beautiful, silver paneled carroza. Preparing her has become both a family and a community affair, a responsibility that daughter Tessa has come to love and embrace.
Tessa Jazmines FP Page
Debosyon at Kasaysayan: Ang Mahal na Araw sa Bayan ng San Mateo, Parokya ng Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu. Souvenir program, 2001.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

331. THE WEEPING LADY OF AMORSECO, San Fernando, Pampanga


The persistent belief that images of Jesus, saints and particularly, the Virgin Mary might become animated and imbued with the power of movement has been espoused since since the olden times. This is also true for some non-Christian figural statues.

Sightings of weeping, blinking and moving statues of the Virgin have been reported in such places as Vietnam, Ballin-spittle, County Cork, Akita in Japan, and of course, in the Philippines, attracting wide interest from zealous devotees. For example,  the ancient image of the Apo Caridad of Ilocos has also been reported as having been found sometimes with amorseco burs stuck to the lower hem of the dress—a proof, devotees say, that the revered Marian image went out unseen for walks.
AMORSECO mysteriously covers the Virgin's face.

In a small subdivision school in San Fernando, Pampanga, small image of the Blessed Virgin has been similarly creating a stir in the region since unexplained things began happening in early October of 1987.  The sacred image, not even a foot tall, was acquired a month earlier by dry goods dealer Lhoree Lee from Mrs. Rosalio C. Toledano, who had trade it to Lee in exchange for fabrics.

Strange events attended the transfer of the image to the Lee residence like the smell of roses and candles that permeated the place, which the family first dismissed. But on October 9, amorseco (cogon flowers) burs began appearing and sticking on the hair of the image, increasing in coverage every day to include the whole face and our Lady’s vestment.

On October 13, the tiny statue began to weep. Lee, believing that these were divine signs, consulted with then Archbishop Oscar Cruz on    what to do. Meanwhile, people started coming in droves to see the Virgin—now known as Our Lady of Amorseco.

The Virgin then began to send messages through the school caretaker, Romeo G. Pabustan, who has since become her medium. Portent of her arrival is the scent of flowers that permeates the chapel where it is kept. During these times, Pabustan goes under a trance and begins writing our Lady’s messages and calls for prayer.

The miraculous image is enshrined at Our Lady of Amorseco House of Prayer which has drawn thousands of visitors, including media personalities, showbiz people,  church leaders, government officials and high society VIPs. It is also a center for outreach programs and many religious crusades.

”Maria, Sumulung Ca”Crusade. 20th Year Anniversary of Our Lady of Amorseco. Souvenir program October 9, 1987-October 9, 2007.
flickr photo" Dexter Ian Mallari,Harry Bernardino, 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Cabiao is a town in Nueva Ecija where Kapampangan is still widely spoken. That’s because it used to be a part of the province of Pampanga, until it was annexed to Nueva Ecija, along with  Gapan, San Isidro, Cabiao and Aliaga around 1848.

As such, many original Kapampangan families can still be found there, still speaking their mother tongue and living the ways of their  own culture. The Kapampangans were clustered in a place called Likod—so named because it was located at the back of the church—and it was here that the extraordinary devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes of Cabetican, Bacolor was introduced and propagated.
In  barangay Maligaya, a chapel now stands, where, a small, antique print of the Cabetican Lourdes can be seen atop the altar, framed in silver. The story of how this revered object of veneration came to Cabiao is told and printed on a small tarpaulin poster that hangs on the iron grill gate of the chapel.

In the 1930s, a Kapampangan woman named Gertrudes Dizon-Castañeda, had a reputation for seeing visions. Her granddaughter, Lucita Castañeda-Vivas, recalls that her Impong Tuding was often seen talking to herself, or so it seems. But in fact, her Impo claims that she was conversing with an old woman, whom she alone could see.

 One day, this old woman, as the story goes, asked her to go to Cabetican in Bacolor to look for a particular picture of a lady there —and to bring it to Cabiao. Impong Tuding obeyed her order, and even though she had no idea how to go to Bacolor by herself, she reached the barrio on the feast day of our Lady of Lourdes.

After walking all over the barrio, Impong Tuding found the picture of the lady. She was sure it was the right one, as she could not take single step after she had beheld it.  But by then, she had run out of funds to pay for the print, so she sadly returned to Cabiao without it.

To her amazement, when she got back to cabio and began unpacking, she discovered the small print of the Lady among her belongings, bearing the caption : ING MAPAGMALA NANG LARAUAN NING NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LOURDES. Daralangiñan da qñg Santuario Cabetican, Baculud (Pampanga)
Our Lady of Lourdes became the patroness of Cabetican in 1906, when the populace was hit by a pestilence. The devotion was brought to the Philippines by Capuchin fathers, who had a church built in 1892 in honor of our Lady of Lourdes. Sculptor Manuel Flores was commissioned to make  a statue of the Virgin, who appeared to shepherdess Bernadette Soubirous in a grotto in Massabielle, France in 1858.
The people of Cabetican asked for intercession from Virgen de Lourdes for the healing of the sick and to end the plague, which resulted in many miraculous recoveries.  A religious book to mark the miracle was printed by the printing press of Proceso Pabalan Byron entitled: “ING MALA NING VIRGEN LOURDES 1906, CABETICAN, BACULUD, CAPAMPAÑGAN. Qñg Mipnung Lugud Ampon Pacamal Mecopia ya iti qñg Imprenta nang  Proceso Pabalan Byron a Sinulat nang Jose Crisostomo Soto a Metung Munaman Sacsi qñgMesabing Mala Iniang ing balen Baculud Mirasnan ya qñg Salut …Ñgening Ala ne qñg Tau ing Sucat Ipanulu qñg Dios carin Panintunan
LOURDES PRINTS, bhy Byron, and an unknown lithographer
(Translation: “The Miracle of the Virgin of Lourdes, 1906, Cabetican, Bacolor, Pampanga. By all the goodness and love, we caused this story to be published in the printing press of Proceso Pabalan Byron, written by Jose Crisostomo Soto, one the witnesses to the miracle when Bacolor was hit by pestilence. Now that the cure is no longer in the hands of the people, it is in God that we search for a cure. ) 
That’s how the religious print of the Virgen  de Lourdes of Cabetican found its way to Cabiao, and for awhile was kept in Impong Tuding’s nipa hut. She hanged it on her wall and the picture inexplicably began to get wet. The more she wiped off the wetness, the wetter the picture got. Word went around the barrio about this unexplained that was deemed as a miracle, and soon people began flocking to Impong Tuding’s hovel to pray to Virgin de Lourdes from Cabetican.

The duplicate image of our Lady of Lourdes and the sacred but tattered print are now housed in a shrine that was built through donations to accommodate the faithful and the pilgrims who go there. The roof and ceiling were added in 1993.
Descendants of Impong Tuding are the caretakers of the shrine; they keep the premises clean, as well as sell candles for devotees to light. Cabiao and Cabetican, together with their Kapampangan faithful, have now been united by one Lady, who continue to shower them with blessings and graces, wherever they may be.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


The antique fever that swept Manila in the 1960s and 70s prompted the rise of numerous antique shops in such places as Vigan, Lucena, San Pablo, Iloilo, Bacolod and Zamboanga.  Though old Vigan was a primary source of antiques, what became the major antique trade center in the north was Baguio City. After all, Baguio had a ready market for these fine collectibles, home to many affluent families with large homes, and hordes of out-of-towners and international tourists looking for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

The modern Maharlika Shopping Center and Marbay Building that rose  in the city’s famous market district became the home of popular antique dealers, known even to Manila buyers. Dealers like Felipe Estacio, Eddie Marcelo, and  Alicia Serrano set up shops there. Estacio also had a big branch along the highway leading to Benguet.

Pinky Garcia, a researcher who discovered early the marketability of ethnic antiques from the northern highlands like Kalinga furniture, weapons and bulols, set up her PNKY shop there. Daisy Gomes Locsin specialized in the black baskets of the Mountain Province that were a hit with American collectors. Soon, even Kapampangans like Francisco Lacap, trooped to Baguio to open their business in the summer capital.

When I was a student in Baguio in the mid to late 70s, the Marbay shops were all crammed with antiques and artifacts of the most bewildering and amazing variety.  Wooden and ivory antos were sold alongside bululs and anito figures. Spanish colonial trinkets and tribal heirloom beads could be easily had for the right price. There were old Ibaloi costumes, headgear, tribal wear, silver and gold jewelry pieces, primitive clay ware.

One would tire himself out just looking at thousands of Oriental plates, bowls, and jars, blue and white, Martabans, Sawankhaloks and Celadons. My interest in antiques was fired by my periodic visits to these stores, but alas, I could only afford the old gin bottles that were sold at 50 pesos each, discounted to 20 if you got more. Larger pieces like cabinets, almarios, tocadors and dining sets  could even be delivered for a small fee to Manila and any point in Luzon.

Even when I was already working in Manila, I would find time to drop by at these shops in the 1980s, during business trips. My last visit was in 2004, when I had to mount an event for a client at La Trinidad. With the antique trade dying in Manila, I knew it would not be long that Baguio’s supply would dry out too. 

Fifteen long years after, I returned to Baguio for another short visit—and of course, I was surprised at the changes the city had undergone. The mountain tops were crammed with houses, the city overpopulated. Burnham Park was one big parking lot and Session Road  teemed with pedestrians. There were overhead walkway that covered the city's landmarks, and tall structures that hid the cityscape, and for a few minutes, I could not locate Marbay, 

When I found it, I gave in to my urge to check my former haunts—and these pictures tell the sad story of Baguio’s antique trade. Less than a dozen hole-in-the-wall shops now populate the shopping center. I went there a little after 9 a.m., so many of the unites were still closed. I just peered through the glass walls and found a few genuine antiques sold side-by-side with many reproductions like furniture, Chinese ceramics and newly-woven baskets, cleverly aged with soot and wax polish.

The most popular shops—Tucucan—where I got my first antique santo for 90 pesos sometime in 1978—was still there, with a large stockroom on the upper floor, mostly reproduction antique furniture. Then, there was Globel’s Antiques, still hanging on, with an assortment of odds and ends. I looked around, but I could not feel the same skipping of my heart beat in my visits some 40 plus years ago, when the world and I were younger.

“All things must pass”,  Beatle George Harrison once sang, and I guess this is true for Baguio’s once bustling antique trade. It had its heyday, and I was glad and grateful for that vanished time, for “mine eyes have seen the glory”.