Video of the procession of the image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of the Navy, held in Intramuros, Manila shot during the 1920s. In the aftermath of the Second World War, virtually all of Spanish Manila would be destroyed, and the thoroughness and finality of its destruction would forever leave a scar in the memories of those who lived to see such a beautiful place, even unto its tragic end. The Dominican-run church of Santo Domingo, shown in the video, and repository to the venerated image of Our Lady (who was instrumental in keeping the Dutch away from these shores) and an ivory image of the Santo Entierro, would be among the first casualties of the war. It's said that the Dominicans purposefully chose to move out of Intramuros once they had started rebuilding the church, as the memory of their church's destruction was still too fresh a reality in their minds.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Yaya would stay on with us till 2009, and watch me and both of my siblings graduate. But as early as 2001, I could tell she was no longer the invincible protector that I thought she had been; she had become sickly and moody, even fatalistic; she slept earlier and woke up later, and when she cooked, she could no longer taste anything unless it was smothered in a fistful of salt. In 2007, she was diagnosed with diabetes; I remember turning a blind eye when I would notice a long line of ants milling about the toilet every time she used it. I would pretend I did not see her eating the fat off the pork chops we'd eat for dinner, or when she could barely understand a word I was saying, even if I already had my voice raised. Finally, on June 26, 2009, she left our household and returned to the province. In the weeks prior, she would often tell me “Gusto ko na magpahinga” [I want to rest already], and “Ano man mangyari sa’kin, nasa Diyos na iyon” [Whatever happens to me, it is already up to God]. When she left, she looked as if she were on the verge of tears; I gave her some extra money in addition to the farewell gift my father had given her [Php 20,000] and told her to come and visit one of these days.
Posted by Archistrategos at 1:04 AM
Friday, January 21, 2011
I was a sophomore in high school when this commercial was released. I'm re-posting this out of nostalgia more than anything, since I'll be 22 in less than a month. That, and I haven't eaten lunch, and I'm off to buy a cheeseburger there. I actually think it's kinda well done. A bit irreverent, true, but it does drive the point rather nicely. A translation of the captions: 0:38, "This Christmas, start each of your days here" [Ngayong Pasko, dito simulan ang bawat umaga]; 0:41 "Then..." [Pagkatapos...] 0:42 "See you there." [Kita-kits]. The church in the commercial is the cathedral of San Sebastian in Lipa.
Posted by Archistrategos at 2:32 PM
I attended the Fiesta of the Santo Nino in my father's province for the first time in years this past Sunday. Not a lot has changed, but then again, it may also be the case that I just did not pay enough attention to the rites in the past. Unfortunately we had missed the religious procession a week before; like many processions held in honor of the saints in the Philippines, the Santo Nino de Batangan, as the Nino of Batangas is officially called ("Batangan" meaning a place where timber was floated before being collected) was feasted with an elaborate, day-long, water-borne procession. This, of course, involved the use of a boat, which traced the "pilgrimage" of the image from the wharfs right to its present location today.
The Nino is black; some say he, like the Nazareno of Quiapo, was burned in a shipwreck; others claim the fire was caused by slave traders who raided the shores of Batangas then. I confess to being unfamiliar with the whole narrative, but suffice to say, the Nino came to Batangas by the sea. Others have said that it came to Batangas via Cebu, where Catholicism had its roots in the Philippines, and where the Nino has been venerated for more than four hundred years, since Magellan brought the image to its shores, and where it was subsequently worshipped as the highest and most powerful god of the Cebuano pantheon. When we got to the basilica to hear Mass, the image was placed just outside the adoration chapel, where a queue of people had lined up in order to venerate it. The Nino was clothed in a cape of beaten silver; when we arrived, it seemed as if it had just been placed outside, as the line numbered fewer than fifty then. Veneration in the Philippine context, of course, involves a plethora of actions that some might call 'touchy feely': the Nino was smothered by many a grubby hand, molested, even. Many brought handkerchiefs and towelettes to wipe the face and hands of the Child, in the hopes that some of its grasya and birtud would rub off on the cloths. These cloths are then rubbed on one's body, conferring its blessedness on the devotee.
The Mass was celebrated by H.E. Cardinal Rosales of Manila. As truly befits the occasion, the church was packed to the rafters; I estimated maybe ~800 people capable of fitting in the pews. But the side naves were fully packed, too, considering that it was already the third (?) Mass of the day (in many places in the Philippines, Masses usually begin at the crack of dawn, at 4.30 to 5am). The Mass itself was not very long, 80 minutes tops; liturgically, it was a run of the mill, insouciantly reverent pontifical Novus Ordo. Peculiar to me was the music; the Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus were all in Latin interspersed with Tagalog, but elegantly sung. Surprisingly there were ladies in the altar party, but all of these were dressed in white with skirts that extended past the knee, and all wore veils. Similarly, the usherettes all wore veils, and there was, in fact, a preponderance of old ladies wearing them. There was one old lady who knelt at the communion rail for the duration of the Mass, who prayed with her arms extended, like the cross.
Like any fiesta in the Philippines, the noise and pollution were overwhelming; as we were walking home to my grandfather's house, what would normally have been a ten minute walk more than doubled in length, due to the sheer number of vendors that crowded the street. Interestingly, a great number of these vendors were Muslims. They offered cheap knock-offs of Italian leather goods (I saw a bag marked "Poochie" [Pucci] and another marked "Frada"), pens that lit up, peanuts, pirated DVDs, karaoke machines, and mass produced estampitas (holy cards) and statues of the Child Jesus, the Holy Family, the Sacred Heart, and many others. Horror of horrors, I even saw a couple of laughing Christs on display.
We finally got home at 11.30; we had stopped by, briefly, at a covered court where a band was practicing (they were kids who were probably not much older than seven). They played a couple of odd ditties, novelty songs, and I think, one religious song, although I did not recognize it. There was a huge spread on the table in my grandfather's house, as per custom in fiestas here. The menu was idiosyncratic: there was Mexican, Chinese, American, and Filipino finger food all mashed together in one syncretic whole. Meanwhile, our family's image of the Nino, with its ivory face and purple robe, was put on a pedestal in the living room. Beside it were flowers, although if these were real or plastic, I was not able to observe.
Posted by Archistrategos at 2:07 PM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Still in connection with the recently concluded Feast of the Black Nazarene. The picture shows a typical scene during the procession: ambulant vendors sell silk screened shirts, hankies, and towelettes bearing the image of the Black Christ by the thousands, as multitudes o men dress up in the habit of the Nazarene, at once professing pious belief in its miraculous power while at the same time resorting to less conventional or orthodox means (i.e., the amulet [anting-anting] on his neck). In the background, the beachhead of a procession of a replica of the Nazarene has just entered into view. I think this photo says all that I've been trying to say better than I ever could. Image found online.
Posted by Archistrategos at 11:19 AM
Posted by Archistrategos at 1:05 AM
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I am not entirely sure if I have posted these pictures before; I probably have, but I like them so much that I thought I would post them again. The picture above was taken almost two years ago, in a rather deracinated cemetery in the middle of a populous, commercial district in Manila called Paco Park. The name 'Paco' was a diminutive form for 'Pancratius', the saint after whom the cemetery was named. The small chapel at the middle of the cemetery is flanked, on both sides, by graves; the arrangement of the cemetery was circular, so that the walls also held the niches, and perhaps owing to this fact (and also because Manila was a very earthquake prone city), the walls were built very thick, like a fortress.
I took the photo in a quiet little spot behind the chapel. It was the hour of mercy, three in the afternoon, when I came to find it, lost amidst blessed stillness and the faint din of insufferable traffic outside. According to a caretaker we saw, that spot was a burial ground for aborted babies and also those who died through miscarriage, and those who died without the grace of baptism. As such, he said, it was probably the saddest part in the entire cemetery. For some reason, I was reminded of the pantaruxada, or la santa compana in Castellano, a ghostly company in rural Galician myth which were said to wonder around the cities in procession at night, dressed in immaculate white, and tolling the death knell: all who see this procession are said to be irrevocably marked for death. I do not know why I was thinking of the pantaruxada at that moment; perhaps, because the unbaptized really have nowhere to go, and that maybe Limbo was a terror more terrestrial than supernatural; otherworldly, yes, but not of a different planet. I do not know.
Ironically, my own parents were married in the cemetery chapel in 1988. In fact, the very reason we went there was to celebrate their twenty first anniversary. I don't really know if either of my parents has a decidedly morbid sense of humor (they always chide me for wanting to buy a coffin bed with the words 'Here lies Arch' carved on it) but I'm pretty sure that they must still be wondering what impelled them to get married there in the first place. As for myself, I am still quite haunted by that abandoned section of the cemetery. The caretaker claims that, at night, he sometimes hears faint cries coming from the old, abandoned sections of Paco Park. He lights a candle to dispel the darkness, and says a brief prayer for the repose of the restless. And yes, those are apparently real skulls on the wall.
Posted by Archistrategos at 12:15 PM