Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Pregnant Image Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Pregnant Image Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

              In the small town of Pangil, which lies northeast of Laguna province, there is an old Catholic Church where the pregnant image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is prominently displayed at its side altar.  The church owns solely that distinction which no other church can lay claim to. The church is called The Our Lady's Nativity Church.

             While Catholic schools teach that Mary conceived the Child Jesus without any physical contact with Joseph the Carpenter, Mother Mary is generally portrayed in pictures and sculptures in the normal fashion which projects her as a revered figure.  But at the old church in Pangil, one sees the Blessed Virgin Mary with a big tummy supposedly bearing the Child Jesus.  Old folks call the image as Virgen De La O.  Tourists flock to Pangil to see for themselves this rare image.  

               Virgen De La O was actually a gift from Prince Carlos of Spain.  As the story goes, the Prince was exiled to the Philippines in 1774, and stayed for three years at the town of Pangil.  The Prince enjoyed his stay in Pangil and, as a token of gratitude for the townspeople's kindness and hospitality, he gifted them with the image of Virgen dela O after returning to Spain.  With the pregnant image was another statue called Santo Nino de la O.  Prince Carlos, later on, held the throne as King Charles III.

               Virgen De La O is said to be miraculous. Once the town of Pangil was submerged under water for a long time.  The people turned to prayers and asked intercession from the pregnant image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Surprisingly, the water subsided and everything was back to normal.  

                Today, travelers make it a point to pass by Pangil town whenever they are in the vicinity of the eastern side of Laguna. Virgen de la O is a top tourist attraction. Now, try to visit the churches in any part of the Philippines and chances are that you will not find a single pregnant image of  Mother Mary. Buntis na imahen ng Mahal na Ina??  Only in Pangil.  In the province of Laguna.

- Konted

The Our Lady's Nativity Church in Pangil, Laguna.  Pangil is about 1 1/2  hr -drive from Antipolo City.

Photo of Pangil Church taken from another angle.  Pangil's neigboring towns are Pakil and Paete.

Statue of Prince Carlos of Spain who spent 3 years in exile in the town of Pangil in the 1700s.

The story of Prince Carlos and the town of Pangil

Left side of Pangil Church

Church's garden

Statue of the Santo Nino de la O depicting the Child Jesus still in the womb.

Church's interior. Virgen de la O is at the right side altar.

Pregnant image of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Closer shot of the Virgin de la O

The original statues are enclosed in a specially-made frame.

Pangil Church's balcony

Amother statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the pregnancy stage.

The Ten Commandments

The Parochial Office at the right side of the church. If the main door is closed when you visit, try the Parochial Office.  If no one is there, knock on the adjoining gate.  Sacristans will allow  entry to the church through a side door.
Laguna De Bay.  Pangil is very near Laguna De Bay.

Breakfast at Jollibee.  There are Jollibee outlets in the nearby towns of Siniloan and Tanay.  Take note, classmate Allan Alcobendas of New Jersey.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Mabitac: A Quaint, Little Town

 Mabitac:  A Quaint, Little Town

              Mabitac is a quaint, little town in the easternmost part of Laguna.  Taking the Manila East Road from Ortigas Avenue Extension, Mabitac is Laguna's first town. The motorist passes through the towns of Morong, Baras, Tanay in Rizal and starts traversing the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Pillilia until he crosses the Rizal-Laguna boundary where Mabitac's territorial jurisdiction begins right up there in the mountains.

             While negotiating that winding and descending national road, the traveler sees numerous stalls showcasing Mabitac's commercial products such as rattan furnitures, knives, bolos, kitchen utensils, vinegar and the popular lambanog or coconut whisky. There are also fresh bukos for sale for a cheap price of P10 each.

              Reaching Mabitac's flat and well paved national road, one is amazed by the vast plains of the town as it further reveals its agrarian nature.  Views of wide green fields that seem never-ending, of farmers harvesting their crops while others begin planting new ones and of farm animals wading in a puddle never fail to catch the fancy of passersby. These are scenes you now only see in paintings. But in Mabitac, it is an everyday occurrence, a daily sight. One can stop and talk with the tillers of the soil, which I did.  

               At a junction where police authorities have set up a checkpoint, one turns right to get to the town proper.  Right after the Mabitac Municipal Hall, a church stands proud atop a hill.  To reach the top, one has to hurdle about a hundred steps. The Mabitac Church, otherwise known as Nuestra Senora De Candelaria, is one of the town's tourist attractions.  It is a common belief among the residents that those who are to be married at the church have to pass the steep ascent for them to fully receive their much sought blessings.  

             With a population of only about 15,000, Mabitac is a relatively peaceful town. And every year, their agricultural harvest yields positive and encouraging numbers.  And people are content with nature's blessings. Except for seasonal flooding in several barangays, the mountains shield the town from the devastating effects of typhoons. This town, which became an independent political unit as early as 1611, is truly blessed.  As an old-timer of Mabitac, Ka Lino, would brag in the late 80s:  " Ah, ah, sa aming bayan ng Mabitac, hindi ka magugutom basta't masipag ka. "

- Konted

Spectacular view of Laguna de Bay as one begins to traverse the Sierra Madre  Mountain Range enroute to the town of Mabitac in Laguna.

A portion of the agricultural land seen below is being cleared for  planting as the rainy  season approaches.

Golden showers along the national road

A young lad waves on top of his horse as he makes his way to work with his father.

The territorial jurisdiction of the town of Mabitac begins right there in the mountains.

Well maintained highway of Laguna
A rattan furniture making shop in the mountains of Mabitac

More products to offer

A highly skilled rattan furniture maker

The descent to the town proper of Mabitac

Saging saba by the bundles

First row bottles are lambanog or coconut whiskey.  Others are bottled tuba or palm sap.

Sweet pineapples

Boloes or itak for sale

More rattan furnitures for sale

Fresh coconut at giveaway prices

The vast plains of Mabitac in Laguna

Planting rice is about to begin.

The long stretch of the national highway in Mabitac

Pleasing to the eyes

Farmers at work

Mabitac farmer gamely poses for a shot.

The farmer's best friend

Farmers merrily do their work.

A refreshing sight along the highway of Mabitac

One more shot

Greener fields

Ducks' waterworld

Ducks converge as feeder gets near them.

Ducks are bred for commercial purposes.

Youngsters watch as others rest under the shade of trees.

Turning right to the town proper of Mabitac

Mabitac's town hall

Main entrance

The steep climb to the Church of Mabitac

Calachuchi greets the climber as he makes it to the top.

Mabitac Church is formally known as Nuestra Senora de Candelaria.

Another shot

Statute of San Lorenzo de Ruiz

About San Lorenzo Ruiz

A mini park by the side of the church

View from the church

The Ten Commandments

To the Unborn Child

Mabitac Church's interior

Main Altar

Statue of Nuestra Senora de Candelaria

Near the main entrance

Closer shot of main altar

Side view of Mabitac Church. The town's big day is the Feast of the 3 Kings or Tatlong Hari.