Saturday, August 20, 2016

263. Krus ni Kristo #2: STO. CRISTO DE LONGOS OF BINONDO


In the oldest Chinatown in the world—Binondo—one can find an ancient Sto. Cristo fished out from a well in the barrio of Longos some time in the 16th century. Legend has it that the Chinese deaf-mute who discovered the blackened corpus of Christ in his pail, shouted in surprise—and regained his speech.

 After a cross was made for the image, the Sto. Cristo was housed at the Capilla de San Gabriel, until the 1863 earthquake damaged the chapel. The undamaged cross was then transferred to the Binondo Church. The original image of Sto Cristo De Longos was displayed near the side entrance of the church.

 A landmark shrine was erected at the corner of Ongpin St and san Nicolas St.—the site of the well where the Sto. Cristo was retrieved. Here, devotees come to see the wooden cross, honoring Christ in a fusion of Filipino-Chinese customs and traditions. The Christian cross is adorned with sampaguita garlands while Buddhist incense sticks are lit and prayers are offered by visitors of the shrine.

 A confraternity--Hermandad del Santo Cristo de Longos—founded in 1704, propagates the devotion to the miraculous Holy Cross.

PHOTOS: courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Saturday, August 13, 2016

262. Santo Stories: SAN PATRICIO: Lola Taring’s Namesake Santo

PATRICIA'S SAN PATRICIO. Lola Taring’s namesake santo, as he appears today, a gift from a kind priest on her birthday. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is rarely seen as a religious statue in the Philippines. On his March 17 feast day, people celebrate by wearing green, a color traditionally assigned to him.

In the picturesque town of Lucban, Quezon, Patricia Villa (b. 1914/d. 2008), was known in her younger days as a pioneer catechist who taught catechism in the town’s public schools for free.

But she is also known as the owner of an old wooden santo, remarkable in that, it is almost never seen in household altars for personal devotion.

 Lola Taring, as she is called by her “apos”, owned a 15 inch image of San Patricio de Irlanda (St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland) that she treasured and kept in her lifetime. How it came to be in her possession stems from a simple act of generosity from a visitor priest who once visited Lucban.

The daughter of Leocadio Villa and Feliza Venzuela, Taring practically grew
up in Lucban. As she was born on the feast day of San Patricio—17 March 1914-- she was named Patricia. Her parents made her aware of this coincidence, and Taring developed a devotion to her namesake saint.

Early on, Taring displayed extraordinary piety, and was known to attend the daily 6 a.m. mass without fail. She received her informal education from the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a local religious congregation for women founded by the servant of God Alfredo Maria Obviar, the first residential bishop of our Diocese.

 On her 13th birthday in 1928, she had a special visitor in the person a certain Rev. Fr. Caparas, from Cabuyao. Fr. Caparas’ godmother happened to be Taring’s cousin, Remedios Deveza (who herself, owned a Virgen de los Remedios, featured in a past article on this blog).

The good father came with a special birthday surprise which he presented to the new teenager—a painted baticuling image of San Patricio, the celebrated bishop of Ireland, in his traditional green vestments, wearing a mitre and holding a brass staff. The santo is represented crushing a few snakes underfoot. The figure stands on a peaña on which is inscribed the date of presentation to you Taring. The image was said to have been bought in Manila.

For most her young life, Taring treasured the image of San Patricio, and druing the dark days of World War II, the santo was the only possession that she carried while Lucbanins fled the town that was about to be overrun by Japanese forces.

 Surviving the war, the image was restored by one of the shops of Maximo Vicente after the liberation in 1945. Unwittingly, the encarnador—who was not familiar with the Irish saint and its iconography—painted the vestments yellow.

 Taring lost both her parents early; she also never married, and although she had a house in Lucban, she stayed with the Rañola Family, whose daughter, Luz, was a close family friend and a kindred spirit, and who, like her, was also a soltera. The Rañola Family, by the way, owned the magnificent Santo Entierro in Lucban.

In her golden years, Lola Taring lived the rest of her life in Lucban, attending to church duties as a Lourdesian. She passed away at the ripe old age of 94 on 25 October 2008. The image of San Patricio was left in the care of a grand nephew, Jayson Maceo, who had lived with her and had been doted since he was a toddler.

In July 2016, the image of San Patricio was re-painted by artist Kiko Aguilar and regained his original green vestments, based on an estampita. The snakes at the foot of San Patricio are now missing. It is now under the care of the Maceo family, where it has been encased in a protective virina.

 Surely, Lola Taring is smiling down on her descendants who continue to cherish and love her namesake santo—the least they could do to honor her life and her memory.

 (Many thanks to Mr. Jayson Maceo for providing the details of this story, as well as the photos to accompany the article)

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, possibly by the sculptor-son of the noted Marcelo Nepomuceno (he had died in the late 20s).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.

Friday, July 29, 2016


Mabalacat, a Recollect town--and now a city--has but a handful of antique santos to show, owned by a few local families. The most well known--especially for its antiquity--is a medium-sized Sto. Nino under whose gaze, many Mabalaquenos have sought comfort and answers to their prayers for many generations. Apung Nino, they call this figure, owned by the Cunanan Family and their forebears from way, way back, that nobody remembers anymore its origin. and his veneration is open to all who visit His shrine. now weathered and darkened with age, but who continues to shower His people with graces, blessings and--many believe--wondrous  miracles.

In a humble, nondescript home embraced by lush,  flowering plants and trees, the Cunanans have enshrined Apung Nino in their home altar, a home they have opened to devotees who wish to visit and pray before the Holy Child. The house itself is old, but not as old as Apung Nino, a be-wigged, plump-ish figure of the Christ Child on a gilded base, with an orb on one hand, and the other raised in benediction.

Metal 'tres potencias' adorn Apung Nino's head, and that's just about the accessories he owns. Devotees, however, have gifted the revered image with presents through the years--a necklace, a locket, simple pieces of jewelry Even his vestments are austere by present-day standards. At home, Apung Nino wears simple house clothes; on the town fiesta, He dons more special clothes embroidered with gold-colored threads.

The caretaker of the image that everyone remembers was the late Engracia "Apung Asyang" Sengco Castro Cunanan,who tended Apung Nino along with children Yoyong, Roming, Ising, Nanding, Carding, and Fe Cunanan. After Apung Asyang passed away on 24 October 1987, and upon her death, her daughter Fe took over her duties. She thus continues the tradition of being a "camarera" of the family image began by her ancestors many years ago.

Apung Nino's special days are on the Feast of Sto. Nino every January and on the town fiesta of Mabalacat. During the fiesta celebration, Apung Nino gets to wear His special vestments and gets to go out of His Agusu home and, borne on a carroza, joins the festive town procession. And as the Holy Child makes the rounds of the town, one could hear the silent intonation of prayers of the faithful who have come from all over to give thanks and praise....

"O Senor Sto. Nino, You are Our King and Our God. We worship you. You are our strong Defender. We turn to you forever and ever...Amen".

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


 In the Philippines, monastic art is a collective term for the artistic outputs of nuns and novices who pass their cloistered hours doing arts and crafts projects. Later, the same skills were taught by religious teachers to girls in Catholics schools, who learned a bit of the Fine Arts along with the domestic arts.

 Popular at the turn of the 20th century, these artistic creations include tole art, paper quilling, religious embroidery, paper crafts, dried flower and leaf art, artistic patching and sewn figural creations. Since most of the creations were three-dimensional, they could not be contained in regular frames. Instead, they were kept in shadow boxes.

 A shadow box is an enclosed glass-front case that is made to contain objects presented in a thematic grouping with artistic or personal significance. The grouping of the objects and the depth effect created by their relative heights from the backing creates a dramatic visual result.

Most of the shadow boxes seen in local antique shops carry religious subjects as central figures. The most typical examples include using old prints of saints (commercially lithographed or ordinary estampitas). The pictures are then cut-out and decorated. For example, cut-out figures of Jesus or Mary, are “clothed” much like paper dolls,  with satin fabrics that have been crimped and folded to simulate drapes on a real dress.

These are then profusely decorated with paper, fabric or mother-of-pearl (‘lagang” or madreperla) flowers or buds. Sometimes, bird figures made of balsa wood are mounted on branches. Metal parts like halos were fashioned from foil. To create 3-D effects, elements of the picture were sometimes raised using thick cardboard and tole techniques. The frames used are standard period frames with art nouveau or art deco carvings, converted into a shallow box.

 Secular versions of shadow box art also existed, which was a favorite past-time during the Victorian age. Instead of religious themes, nimble fingers crafted art made of human hair—braided, soiled or used as embroidery thread to make memorials of dead loved ones. I have seen shadow boxes with patriotic figures, papier mache fruits and a heritage house in Sta. Rita has 4 rare shadow boxes containing dioramas of the allegorical figures of the Four Seasons.

 Most of the shadow boxes featured here can be seen at the Archdiocese Museum of San Fernando, Pampanga.

Friday, July 8, 2016

258. Guagua's Dolorous Virgins IV: DOLOROSA DE SIETE PALABRAS

By now, one should have noted the pattern that Guagua’s Limsons, Lopezes, Jingcos and Bacanis are all interrelated either by blood or by marriage; they are also owners of major processional images, many of them Dolorosas. The same can be said for the fourth Dolorosa of Guagua, fancifully called Dolorosa of the Siete Palabras.

The Dolorosa is owned by Mrs. Teresita “Tita”  Limson-Songco, whose son Jun, had it made in 2000, originally for home devotion. It was made by Dan Garcia and was last painted in 2002.  When the Holy Wednesday Lopez Dolorosa  ceased to join the Lenten processions of  Guagua in the early 2000s, the Limson-Songco Dolorosa replaced her. 

It has since assumed that role for the last 11 years, as the Lopez ‘Macarena’, has stopped its outings indefinitely. The Dolorosa de Siete Palabras has its own wooden carroza, and is thus the latest to join the long line of Guagua’s celebrated images of the Dolorous Virgins.


Dr. Raymund Feliciano (chevalierfeliciano on flickr)
Jerry P. Sagmit

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