Remnant News Watch
Marian Tradition Revived in the Philippines

Mark Alessio

Our Lady of Caysasay

Well-known sculptor Ramon Orlina and businessman Ernie Villavicencio, as hermanos mayores [i.e., “older brothers”], “revived a tradition involving the fiesta of Our Lady of Caysasay Dec. 8 and 9,” reports Josephine Darang of the Philippine Daily Enquirer (Dec. 30, 2007).

Mass was celebrated twice on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in the Church of Our Lady of Caysasay in the Barrio Labac (located in the Taal section of Batangasa Province on Luzon, the chief island of the Philippines). A morning Mass was followed by a late afternoon Mass celebrated by Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa.

At the conclusion of the afternoon Mass, a musical performance by soprano Rochelle Gerodias and tenor Randy Gilongo, and the recitation of a luwa, a lyrical poem addressed to the Blessed Virgin imploring blessings and thanking her for favors granted, preceded a fluvial (i.e., flowing water) procession, which made its way along the Pansipit River from Labac to the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, one of the largest Catholic churches in Southeast Asia. This procession accompanied the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary found in 1603 by a fisherman named Juan Maningcad in the Pansipit River:

That evening, lines of people waiting patiently along the river bank for the Virgin’s casco (boat) stretched to as far away as Lemery. Young girls in colorful gowns making up the hila present a delightful picture. It is called the hila (pull) because the women pull the lights that originate from the Virgin’s carossa (carriage).

Any parade is not complete without a banda to provide music. It is usually led by dancing majorettes. When the procession reached the basilica, the hermanos (brothers) carried the miraculous image to the altar prepared for her. People kept a Rosary vigil and sang hymns until the Mass the following day.

Orlina’s daughter Ningning recited the luwa from memory. Her devotion to the Virgin of Caysasay was instilled in her by her grandmother Paulina Gahol Orlina who wrote the book “Taal” in l982 and who wanted to stage a play on The Virgin, but was thwarted by some people. Finally, her son Ramon staged the play at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Little Theater 20 years later, in July, 2006.

Comment: Devotion to Our Lady of Caysasay dates back to the year 1603, when fisherman Juan Maningcad caught a small statue of the Immaculate Conception in his net while fishing in the Pansipit River in Barrio Caysasay, in the town of Taal, Batangas. The local priest brought the statue to Taal where it was placed inside a shrine built to house it.

According to the legend, on a number of occasions, the image would disappear, only to reappear again in its place the following day. Finally, in an effort to solve this mystery, the parish priest had some villagers keep a vigil beside the urn which had been specially built to contain the image. They saw the urn open of its own accord, and the statue leaving the church and returning. The priest gathered the villagers together and had them follow the image by candlelight. The statue led them to Caysasay, back to the very place where it had originally been found.

The priest took this as a sign and had the image transferred from its chapel to the town church. But, the statue continued to disappear and return. One day, it disappeared and remained hidden until the year 1611, when two women out collecting firewood near the place where Juan Maningcad had first discovered the statue saw the image reflected in a well. Looking up, they saw it resting atop a tall sampaguita bush.

In time, various miracles became associated with this well, among them the freshening of the town well, which had become contaminated with sea water. Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J., writing in The Philippine Star (Dec. 27, 2003), described another miracle:

On that spot Our Lady appeared to a native girl, Juana Tangui, who was almost blind. Her eyes were cured, at the time of the vision. This was recorded by the church "Ordinario." The well water is now known as "Balon Ng Santa Lucia." The adjoining stream is called "Banal na Tubig." An arch was constructed over the place of the apparitions. It is now called "Ang Banal Na Pook." To this day miraculous cures are attributed to her intercession, and a stream of devotees visit Our Lady of Caysasay in her shrine, and in the Basilica.

In 1942, Pope Pius XII declared the Immaculate Conception principal patroness of the Philippines. At a time in history when so much Catholic tradition has been either abandoned or compromised, it is good to see that the “Fiesta of Our Lady of Caysasay” is once again gladdening the hearts of our brother Catholics in the Philippines. Just imagine the added depth and dimension such events will assume after the Traditional Latin Mass, and the sound doctrine with which it is imbued, re-conquers the Catholic world.


Turkish Catholics Plan to Celebrate "Pauline Year"

"Islamic Jesus" Film Premiers in Iran



Want More News?

Mark Alessio's "Remnant News Watch" column appears in every issue of The Remnant

Subscribe to The Remnant! For more information, please click here.