Saturday, June 25, 2016

256. Guagua's Dolorous Virgins II: THE JINGCO-BACANI DOLOROSA

THE BLUE-EYED DOLOROSA OF FAMILIA BACANI-JINGCOS

The Bacani Dolorosa is an exquisitely-made processional wooden figure of the Dolorous Virgin, an heirloom image of the Bacani (Bakani) Family of Guagua. Family lore tells of the image being used for processions on Holy Thursdays even during the Spanish times. But more likely, it is a handiwork of their relatives--the Jingcos--who were a family of sculptors led by Sabas Jingco, and later, his son Maximino Jingco, a U.P. Fine Arts graduate who opened a taller de escultura y pintura in Betis in 1927. The younger Jingco studied under the tutelage of Isabelo Tampinco. This also explains why the Dolorosa is often referred to as the Jingco-Bacani Dolorosa. 


The patriarch, Dr. Jose Irisari Bacani was a well-known medico cirujano, a graduate  of University of Sto. Tomas (1917) who later pursued higher studies in the U.S. Upon his return, he worked briefly at the Philippine General Hospital, then settled back to Guagua in 1919 to practice his profession. In 1920, he married Consolacion Valenzuela where they raised three daughters.


The Dolorosa, over the years, has been repainted, and now has a fairer complexion like ivory;  it is hard to tell from a distance whether it is real ivory or plain wood due to her most recent encarnacion. It always participated in the pre-war Holy Wednesday procession in Guagua, until its carroza was completely burned at the height of the World War II in 1942. In those dreadful times, Guagua town was razed to the ground.


As a result, the family withdrew the Dolorosa from the Holy Week processions of Guagua. This prompted the Lopezes,  another prominent family of the town, to have another sober-looking Dolorosa made in Spain—known today as the Macarena.

Rosario Bacani Guanzon
The Bacani Dolorosa, meanwhile, was left in the care of one daughter, Rosario Bacani Guanzon. It would take 50 years before this beautiful Dolorosa resurfaced again in the 1990s—as a participant in the Marian procession held in Guagua in 1991 and 1998.

Apung Charing shared the Dolorosa with siblings and relatives, allowing them to keep the image in their homes for as long as six months. After which, the image was secured and kept once more by Mrs. Guanzon in nearby Sta. Rita town, where she keeps a home.


The Bacani Dolorosa has not been seen publicly since.  Dressed in her red embroidered vestment and caped with her wide manto, the Dolorosa cuts a striking figure, especially when she wears her silver rostrillo. It is hoped that the people of Guagua will behold the face of this beautiful Dolorosa once more in the near future.

PHOTO CREDITS: Jerry Punzalan Sagmit

Sunday, June 19, 2016

255. Guagua’s Dolorous Virgins I: THE LOPEZ DOLOROSA

MATER DOLOROSA OF THE LOPEZES OF GUAGUA.
in its own silver-plated carroza triunfal, 1952
.

Through the years, Guagua, Pampanga has taken pride in having not just the most beautiful Dolorosa images in the region but also in having a pool of several statues of the sorrowful Virgin that are used in their Lenten celebrations.

One well-known Mater Dolorosa that exists to this day is the statue commissioned by town millionaire Don Alejandro Lopez. Married to Jacinta Limson, Lopez had humble beginnings. As a teaching graduate of the Philippine Normal School, he taught at Pampanga High School from 1912-1913, and rose to succeed Benito Pangilinan as a Division Superintendent of the Bureau of Education.

 In 1920, he engaged in commerce and agriculture, where he found his fortune and rose to prominence as director and vice president of the Pampanga Sugar Mills Planters Association. For his wife, he built the grand Villa Jacinta, the first all-concrete residence in Pampanga in 1929, at a cost of Php28,000.

 One of the sure signs of wealth in those days was the ownership of a religious image. When the Dolorosa of the Bacani family ceased to join the Holy Wedneday procession of Guagua after the war, Don Alejandro Lopez proceeded to order a beautiful wooden Mater Dolorosa image all the way from Spain.


 The wooden processional Dolorosa was created by an unknown sculptor from a taller in Madrid, Spain called Casa Garin. The shop, which also sold other religious articles for worship, operated until 2004. The classically carved Dolorosa, with its beautiful mournful features, had only a wooden conical frame for its lower body, without legs or feet. It was outfitted with a silver rostrillo and a silver heart pierced with 7 daggers.


 The Spanish-made Dolorosa was shipped to the Philippines and arrived in Guagua in 1952. Even as it was being made, Lopez also ordered from Victoriano Songco of the Catholic Trade Center, a magnificient carroza fit for the Dolorosa. (Siongco, in a few years, would also make the replica of the Virgen de los Remedios, patroness of Pampanga).

 The result was a grand carroza triunfal, shaped like a chariot, which was wrapped in silver-plated panels. The float was prefaced by two trumpet bearing angels up front, and light-carrying standing angels flanking its sides. The border of the carroza was lined with cherubs and puttis.


 On 9 April 1952, the Lopez’ Mater Dolorosa, arrayed in richly-embroidered vestments was enthroned on her fabulous carroza triunfal, and was blessed and inaugurated at the Villa Jacinta with the family and VIP guests in attendance.

 For years, the Mater Dolorosa participated in the Holy Wednesday processions of Guagua, but when the patriarch passed away, disputes of the heirs over family property caused the Dolorosa and the carroza to be assigned ownership to a male heir, who entrusted it for safekeeping to a neighbor. Recently, it was reported in local news that the silver accessories of the Dolorosa were stolen, but it was widely believed that they were sold by one descendant. Only the cape or manto survived.


The future of the Lopez Mater Dolorosa remains uncertain; its carroza triunfal has been duplicated as it has also broken down;  this new carroza is now in use to convey the antique Limson ivory Dolorosa for the annual Viernes Santo and Salubong rites.


NOTE: One of the last appearances of the Lopez Dolorosa (popularly called Macarena)  was in the Holy Wednesday procession of Guagua in 1992. Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

254. MARFIL: Philippine Religious Ivory Carvings, part 2

STO. NIÑO, Head and hands of ivory, mounted on wooden body. Garbed investment embroidered with gold thread. 19th c. Ht. 30 cm. Gopiao Collection.

By Jose Mari P. Treñas
Photography by  Patrick Uy

Philippine Religious Ivory Carvings.
Excavations show fossils of elephants and tusk-bearing relatives of elephants in various Philippine sites (Cagayan Valley, Pangasinan, Panay, Manila and Mindanao.) A Spanish Augustinian memo in 1573 mentions elephants in Sulu. Sixteenth and 17th century Spanish accounts also state that ivory (marfil) was fashioned by the Filipinos into religious statuary, jewelry and weapon handles. Still the existence of a thriving ivory carving tradition before the Spaniards came cannot be ascertained. What is indisputable is that the earliest religious ivory carvings were commissioned by the Spanish friars initially from immigrant carvers from Southeastern China.

SANTO NIÑO, Solid ivory figure, arms carved separately. Gold crowns, traces of gilding on the hair. Glass eyes, 19th c., Ht. 20 cm. Treñas Collection.

The most intriguing question is whether these were carved exclusively by the Chinese (which was the dogma upheld until fairly recently) or whether this craft passed on to Filipinos early on. Gatbonton initially expressed a theory about a “local” style in her 1982 catalogue, Imagery in Ivory for the ivory exhibit of the Intramuros Administration. The theory that Filipinos also carved ivory was again ventured by Gatbonton rather tentatively in her book published by the Intramuros Administration in 1983, entitled Philippine Religious Carvings in Ivory, when she states that, “We may reasonably assume that Filipino carvers, we working alongside the Chinese.” This assertion Gatbonton repeats more unequivocably in her article for Arts of Asia also published in 1983—but here she goes on a limb. She breaks the paradigm—she states that based on the collection gathered by the Intramuros Administration, it was possible to reassess the general belief that Chinese carvers were responsible for all the ivory carvings originating from the Philippines.

MADONNA AND CHILD. Solid ivory figure with gold leaf decorations; gold crowns and gold rostrillos (facial aureole). 18thc., Ht. 26 cm. Treñas Collection

She cites two reasons: 1. The Filipino carver’s attitude towards the theme of Crucifixion where Christ is the passive victim); 2. The Filipino carver’s tendency to carve for frontal effect.

This theory was actively pursued by Jose. Although it is not clear when Filipinos started to carve ivory santos, by the 1730s, the Spanish missionaries were praising the artistic skills of indios and mestizos. In 1729, the Archbishop of Manila states that in connection with a proposed deportation of the Chinese, the natives were ready to take over all crafts. In 1738, Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde S.J. wrote that the Filipinos were ‘exceedingly clever in handiwork—good carvers, gilders and carpenters.” Significantly, Jose notes that the item ‘sculptor’ does not appear in the lists of Chinese professions in 1689, 1700 or 1745. All in all, historical evidence shows that the Chinese were absent from the Philippines for long periods of time. The answer to this question may not be definitive, but the paradigm has been broken.

SANTO NIÑO. Head, hands, feet of ivory mounted on wooden body. Garbed in vestment embroidered with gold thread,, silver crown,m Late 18th  cm., Ht. 39 cm.m Gopiao Collection.

Conclusion
While more research and documentation have to be done, significant strides have been made on the recognition of Philippine ivories. The Spanish scholar and writer, Margarita Estella Marcos, has traced a number of Philippine ivory carvings now in private collections. Jose enumerates some of these pieces: a Santo Cristo documented in 1585 in the Church of the Magdalena in Sevilla, a number of pieces given by Bishop Antonio Paino to the Church of Sta. Maria in Valladolid in 1630 and 1660, a plaque depicting the Crucifixion dated between 1694 in the Church of Vera Cruz in Salamanca, a San Miguel and San Juan Bautista dated between 1695 and 1712 in the Cathedral of Badajoz, a Divino Pastor dated 1699 in the Castle of the Family of San Francisco Javier in Navarra, a Cristo de los Peligros which arrived in Spain in 1715 and is now enshrined in the Parish of Belmonte in Cuenca.

PURISIMA CONCEPCION, Solid ivory figure. Gold ornaments, Late 18th  c., Ht. 27 cm., Maralit Collection.

In 1770, a dozen ivory figures (among them, the Four Evangelists, a Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion and the Four Doctors of the Church) were documented to have arrived in Mexico from the Philippines. The Museo Oriental in Valladolid exhibits many ivory carvings of Philippine provenance.

More and more, Philippine ivory carvings are emerging from the shadow of European ivories. Although there were early condescending references to the Philippine pieces as hybrid ivories with pious Oriental expressions, Western oses and agitated draperies, this has changed. These pieces, the result of a unique Filipino sensibility utilizing European models and Chinese tecniques, are now recognized as among the most beautiful religious ivory carvings produced during this period.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

253. MARFIL: Philippine Religious Ivory Carvings, part 1

PURISIMA CONCEPCION, Solid ivory figure with hands carved separately. Gold leaf decoration. Gold ornaments. 19th c., Ht: 21.5 cm., Gopiao Collection

By Jose Mari P. Treñas            Photography by  Patrick Uy

Long dismissed as crude and naïve expressions of alien faith, Philippine religious carvings in ivory are being seen in a new light. Exquisite examples of documented Philippine provenance in Europe and Mexico, beautiful pieces in the Intramuros Administration and the occasional rare item that still comes into the market, have debunked the conventional wisdom about Philippine ivories and have made historians and scholars rethink and reassess the same.

NIÑO DORMIDO, Ivory head, hands and feet mounted on wooden body. Garbed in vestment embroidered with gold thread. 19th c., Lebgth: 20 cm., Maralit Collection.

I first became interested in Philippine ivory when I was twelve. My family would troop over regularly to my lola’s house for Sunday lunch and while everybody would lazily linger over coffee and dessert, I would politely leave the dining table to sneak to the altar in my lola’s room. There I would seek out two ivory heads hidden in the lower drawer. Barely two inches in size, they were so cool to my touch. The color was so fleshlike, the glass eyes staring enigmatically ahead and the lips carved into hieratic smiles. Even the cracks that randomly ran from the forehead down the neck had their own strange beauty. I think my lolal noticed my fascination, for the two heads were placed in my pocket to take home. Although I did not buy my first ivory until two years ago, I was hooked. It was not the first.

SANTO NIÑO, Solid ivory figure. Silver ornaments, 19th c., Ht.: 27 cm, Maralit Collection.

In his introductory essay to the book, Masterpieces of Ivory from the Walters Art Gallery, which contains examples of Philippine ivory carvings bought in such diverse places as Venice and Paris, Richard Randall Jr. writes that, “throughout history, ivory has always been regarded as a rare and beautifuol substance, fit for gods and kings.” A passage in the Book of Kings which Randall quotes reads, “Once in three years comes the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold and silver and ivory, apes and peacocks.” Randall cites that many kings have sat on thrones made of ivory, Solomon among the first. A 17th  century ivory throne made for one of the kings of Denmark still exists in the Rosenberg Castle in Copenhagen.

NIÑO DORMIDO, Solid ivory body with glass eyes. 19th c., Length: 18 cm., Maralit Collection.

The trade in ivory was mentioned in the Bible, both in the Book of Kings and Ezekiel. This has been subsequently confirmed by archaeological data. In Ezekiel, it is said that the men of Dedan on the Red Sea, “brought you for a present horns of ivory.” Aden, at the foot of the Red Sea, was the most active trading post of ivory when Marco Polo wrote about his travels in the 13th century. The route then started from East Africa to Zanzibar, then to Aden, up to the Red Sea to Egypt and overland to the Mediterranean. This route was pretty much the same in the 19th century, when ivory was shipped from Zanzibar through the Suez Canal and on to London and Antwerp.

What is Ivory?
In his excellent catalogue for the 19991 Philippine Exhibit of religious ivory carvings held at Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum, Regalado Jose Jr. writes that, “Today, the term for ivory has come to include material with similar qualities in varying degrees, obtained from the teeth or tusks of other animals such as the walrus, narwhal, sea cow, and hippopotamus.” However, only the tusk of the elephant which can reach 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 200 pounds is regarded as “true ivory.”


Jose further classifies elephant ivory into its three main sources: Fossil ivory, African ivory and Oriental ivory. Although the Philippines was closer to the sources of ivory (India. Indonesia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Borneo) , the ivory used in Philippine religious carvings  was  African. Esperanza Gatbonton, in her article, “An Introduction to Philippine Colonial Carvings in Ivory” printed in the July-August 1983 issue of the Arts of Asia points out that the large scale commerce in ivory was undertaken by the Portuguese in 1509. The Portuguese then held sway in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. They conquered Goa in 1510, Malacca in 1511. The result was a monopoly in ivory. These Portuguese vessels  would sail with the southeast monsoon and unload their cargo in Manila.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

252. THE SANTO COLLECTION OF DOM MARTIN OSB

SANTO BAMBINO OF ARACOELI,

Edgardo Ramon Gomez comes from the prominent Hizon Family of San Fernando, Pampanga who made a name for himself in the Philippine fashion world as "Gang Gomez". The New York-trained Gomez was known for his classic, hand embroidered creations that made him the toast of high society misses and matrons.

No wonder, he was acclaimed as one of the country's top young designers in the 70s,  along with Inno Sotto, Ernest Santiago and Auggie Cordero. But at the peak of his career, Gomez surprised everyone when he closed his Manila atelier to join the Monastery of the Transfiguration in faraway Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Today, as Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez, OSB, he remains true to his calling as a monk--teaching classes, helping run the affairs of the school. he has also channeled his designing talents to creating vestments using indigenous materials. His religious calling has also prompted him to look again at his sacred art collections, precious reminders of his unwavering relationship with God, now kept at the family's ancestral home in Pampanga.

NINO DE LA NAVIDAD in a basket.

AGNUS DEI on top of a book, perhaps from St. John.

THE HOLY CROSS, used in Good Friday processions.

MATER DOLOROSA, antique ivory in virina.

HOLY CHILD JESUS, carved wood.

CRUCIFIED CHRIST.

SAINT JOSEPH WITH CHILD JESUS, in virina.

THE VIRGIN, STANDING ON A HORNED BASE.

OUR LADY, IN A PRIVATE ORATORY.

IVORY ANGEL, with silver wings

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

251. A Shared History: APO LAKAY of SINAIT and VIRGEN MILAGROSA of BADOC


Two of the most important religious images from Ilocoslandia are the Virgen Milagrosa of Badoc and the miraculous Apo Lakay, the black crucified Christ of Sinait, two of the oldest towns of Ilocos Region. Their stories are intertwined, in that they arrived in the Philippines together in a box, on the 3rd of May in 1620—coinciding with the date of finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena.


It is believed that they came from Nagasaki, Japan where missionaries brought images for evangelization purposes. It is supposed to have been found on Ilocos shores at about the same time that a persecution was being waged against the Christian in Japan.

 Like the biblical story of Moses, the boxes containing the images was found adrift in the sea by fisherfolks in Dadalaquiten, Sinait. An argument ensued between the Sinait and Badoc fishermen who found the boxes, but they matter was soon settled peacefully:  The Virgen Milagrosa was sent to Badoc, but the crucified black Christ was too heavy to be transported so it remained in Sinait.


The cross is about three meters long and two meters wide, and the Christ is about the size of an average Filipino. It is enthroned in the sanctuary of the church which has become one of the most popular pilgrim sites of Ilocoslandia. The crucifix is credited with stopping the 1656 epidemic in the Ilocos and for helping repel the attacks of Moro pirates.

 Apo Lakay also attracts devotees looking for healing, from all parts of the country, most especially during theHoly Week and during Apo Lakay’s feast day, May 3.


On the other hand, the image of the Blessed Virgin is revered in Badoc for her countless miracles that she had been heaping on her people. Proclaimed as La Virgen Milagrosa during the 1980 Eucharistic Celebration on 20, May 1980, she is considered the Patroness of Ilocos Norte. That same year, she was canonically crowned in December.

Photos: Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

250. 50 Years After: VIRGEN DE LOURDES of BARRIO TALANG, CANDABA

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, patroness of Brgy. Talang, Candaba,
as she appear today, and in 1966.

In 1966, the barrio of Talang, in Candaba, Pampanga was featured on the December 25 issue of Sunday Times Magazine, then the country’s most popular weekend magazine, in an article entitled “Christmas in Huklandia”.

THE OLD VISITA OR CHAPEL, in 1966.

 Back then, Talang was a remote and impoverished barrio of Candaba, where Huk dissidence marred the quest for peace and progress of this rural place. But though mired in poverty, the faith of the barrio people remained unshaken. All because of their devotion to their patroness that they kept in a ramshackle “visita” or chapel that stood in the middle of the small clearing: Virgen de Lourdes or Our Lady of Lourdes.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES and Lourdesenian Youth Group.

 The Virgen de Lourdes in 1966 was described thus, by the writer of the article: “It is not a well-sculptured, richly-garbed, bejeweled icon that lords it over the rough-hewn archaic facsimile of an altar here. Instead, the four-foot image of our Lady of Lourdes, seemingly embarassed by the provincial touches of imitation,gaudy adornment, hides within the principal niche above the altar. There are no tall candles on gleaming candlesticks, to light up her sad-eyed, benign features with, and the flowers,still to be picked from some garden plot by her devotees, are conspicuous by their absence on the two-tiered facade flanking her post.” 

The people of Talang have their own pressing needs, but during the Christmas season, they put priority to the needs of their patroness first. In the days leading to Christmas day, the barrio folks unite to go on fund-raising initiatives; for 1966, the objective was to raise money for the Virgen’s carroza. 

DANCING FOR ALMS, Talang barrio folks go from town
to town, to raise funds by dancing.

 The Lourdesenian youth groups would organize themselves into carolers and venture out of their barrio, carrying the image of the Virgen with them as they sing for alms. Adults, on the other hand, become itinerant dancers, going from town to town to dance for alms for their church’s patron. For them all, the days are rich in love and goodness and goodwill, even as violence rage menacingly along the periphery of their private lives.

THE CHAPEL, then and now.

There is a happy postscript to the story of the Lourdes Virgin and the barangay Talang, after fifty long years.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES CHAPEL INTERIOR.

The once-decrepit wooden visita is now a modern concrete structure—now known as Virgen de Lourdes Parish Chapel-- with a floor area, many times bigger than the old chapel, carved pews and stained glass windows. It was established in 1983 through the efforts of Fr. Nolasco Fernandez.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, in the chapel that was built
in 1983. Photo: Dr. Raymund Feliciano.

Bright and well-lit, it features main retablo and lateral altars, the right side of which houses the original Lourdes image, the same revered icon that was featured in a magazine over five decades ago.

VIRGEN DE LOURDES, Photo: Dr. Raymund
Feliciano

Virgen de Lourdes even sports a new globe base, and a kneeling figure of the visionary St. Bernadette has also been added.

 As for Barrio Talang, it has indeed, moved forward. Thankfully, the Huk unrest that plagued Candaba and the barrio in the 60s has abated. Today, the barangay has its own own barangay hall, elementary and high schools and is dotted with many leisure farms that attract visitors from Pampanga and beyond, especially during their February fiesta days (Feb. 10-11).

OUR LADY OF LOURDES, pray for us.

 Resident devotees will always attribute their changing fortunes to the workings of Virgen de Lourdes; but undeniably, it is also the people’s resilience and unwavering faith in a time of hate and discord that has served them well, as the once-lowly barrio continues its strive for lasting peace and enduring progress.

 SOURCE: “Christmas in Huklandia”, Sunday Times Magazine, by Gloria Garchitorena Goloy, Photographed by Dominador Suba, 25 December 1966

PHOTO CREDITS: 

Virgen de Lourdes: Taken by Dr. Raymund Feliciano
Virgen de Lourdes Parish / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Virgen_de_Lourdes_Parish_Church_(Talang,_Candaba,_Pampanga)