27 meaningful years of love and prayers; Goodbye, Fr. Jay-A A +A
By Nars Padilla
Friday, October 11, 2013
LIKE the beautiful morning in spring, 27 long years of love and prayers have made the Shrine of the Brown Madonna inside a rock cave a popular place of worship. Last Sunday, a throng of Mama Mary devotees from Taguig, Metro Manila, Urdaneta City in Pangasinan, a balikbayan all the way from New Southwales, Australia, and from nearby municipalities of Benguet, including the City of Pines gathered at the Shrine along scenic Asin Road and celebrated the 27th anniversary of the religious edifice.
My wife Sol and I were deeply elated to see my daughter Marisol and her husband Col. Pipes Buena who were with the original group of Mama Mary devotees who helped the National Correspondents Club of Baguio develop the place. The Urdanitans were headed by our new found Shrine benefactor Wally and Brenda Layson while the devotees from Barangay Nangalisan of Tuba was led by couple Jaime and Glo Tamsi.
The balikbayan from Australia was Adelina, a former star dancer of Baguio’s famed Pangkat Silayan, a dance troupe under the care of my betterhalf and yours truly. The members of the entertainment group were all volunteers who cooperated and supported the city’s tourism programs and other important social-civic undertakings where their talents and skills were needed.
Those were the great old days, where the true bayanihan spirit glowed and radiated joy and satisfaction for both the performers and the spectators. It is lamentable that today, everything, including culture is for a fee. Maybe, we can blame the changing times.
Activities at the Shrine started with a floral and candlelight ceremonies led by BARP Foundation president Prof. Federico Balanag, Phases Learning Center director Cita Barnal and a cast of patrons and devotees. Immediately after, Bro. Ronnel, an Agustinian from the Recoletos Seminary celebrated the thanksgiving mass. The seminary’s choir sang heartwarming songs of praise to the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A merienda after the mass was served, courtesy of the Laysons, the son of the late Baguio BIR director Hermie Velasquez, Sonny del Rosario, Tessie Romero, my esteemed friend and colleague Councilor Tino Olowan and several other shriners.
Altogether, the meaningful and joyful affair was another significant day in the memories of those who came to share and care. Again, thank you to one and all, especially the Mama Mary devotees of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna.
Now let me take this opportunity to share with you my last conversation with Rev. Fr. Jose “Jay” Alipio two days before he died Saturday afternoon. Sol was playing with our granddaughter Jerimie when I called Fr. Jay to inform him that he was selected by the awards committee of the BARP Foundation Golden Years Festival 2013 as one of the 10 most outstanding senior citizens in the city, particularly in the field of religious and spiritual service. All the awardees, I told him, were cited for their outstanding leadership and highly meritorious service in their profession or vocation. He was very happy about it and thanked me for the information.
I requested him to offer the opening prayer during the awards program set at SM Baguio on Oct. 21. He accepted my request. Again with a “thank you, Nars.” We also talked about his earnest desire to return to the original idea of celebrating the sunrise Easter Sunday mass on a floating altar at Burnham Lake. He added he will coordinate this activity with the Our Lady of Lourdes Church. “We will work out the details of the program. Hopefully, we can do it again at the lake while the pagsalubong can be done at the newly constructed fountain at the Rose Garden,” he said.
Also Fr. Jay said he is all heart in the construction of a historical marker honoring the late Pope John Paul II who visited and celebrated Holy Mass at Burnham Park many years ago. It was a rare blessing that our city was included in the very tight itinerary of the Pope when he came to the Philippines. I told Fr. Jay that the NCCB, which coordinated the construction of the Arch. Daniel H. Burnham and Col. Lyman Kennon at the main park along Zigzag Road, respectively, will be with him all the way to realize his dream.
He said, the construction of the marker, hopefully, will be realized before the canonization or beatification of the Pope by Vatican authorities next year. I am sure that the plan of Fr. Jay with the sincere and wholehearted support of the church and his core of friends will place Baguio in the religious world map.
Last Sunday morning, I called Supt. Jose Olarte, to ask him if he knew the middle name of Fr. Jay. I was shocked to know that Fr. Jay died Saturday afternoon. Sol and I, like the members of his family and loved ones, and his mighty circle of parishioners, admirers and dear friends were surprised. We all grieve the passing of a dear friend, a kindly priest who labored with tender loving care to shepherd his flock.
I paid a call on Councilor Peter Fianza at his office Thursday afternoon. He is chairman of the Council Committee on Education, Culture and History. I related to him Fr. Jay’s idea about the Pope John Paul marker in Burnham. Councilor Fianza was receptive and interested. In fact, he instructed one of his staff members to do a research about the Pope’s visit to Baguio. The way I look at things, apo Fianza this early is ready to author a resolution about Fr. Jay’s plan.
I requested him to hold on for a while until we have discussed the matter with Church authorities headed by Bishop Carlito Cenzon. A formal communication about the marker will be sent to you, sir Fianza, as soon as the plan about the subject is finalized. Meanwhile, Rev. Fr. Manny of the Baguio Cathedral and Rev. Fr. William of St. Joseph Parish Church are very supportive of Fr. Jay’s idea. Let us all pray for the success of the forthcoming project.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 12, 2013.