Shrine of the Brown Madonna to get facelift

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By Nars Padilla

Kafagway Roundup

Friday, February 28, 2014


THE shrine of the Brown Madonna, a popular place of worship along Km. 7, Asin Road will get a facelift starting today.

The special event is courtesy of Ms. Helen Aquino, president and general manager of Maximum Security Services Corporation from Metro Manila. The security agency currently has a force at John Hay forest reservation.

Over a month ago, my son Fritzgerald, newly installed NCCB special project officer invited Helen and her vice president Marina Pante to visit the shrine inside a man-made rock cave.

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They were deeply impressed to see the place and almost immediately became devotees of Mama Mary of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna. And without second though, they offered to help in the further development and beautification of the Shrine which through the years gained popularity as a pilgrimage site.

Last month, the new lady benefactors of the Shrine attended the regular fourth Sunday mass with us. The holy Eucharist was celebrated by our NCCB spiritual adviser Rev. Fr. Domingo “German” Ledesma. Both expressed their joy for attending the religious occasion and for getting acquainted with other Shrine patrons, Wilfredo and Brenda Layson from Urdaneta City in Pangasinan and Jaime and Gladys Tamsi from Barangay Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet.

Certainly, we are missing the attendance and fellowship of the original members of the Ladies of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna namely Delia Gaerlan, Ann Angeles and my sister Stela. Age has caught up with them and their movements have been limited for their wellbeing. Of course, we always include them in our prayers.

A core of artist-painters will be on the job this morning. To be repainted are the seven foot figure of Mama Mary and Santo Niño, St. Joseph and the crucifix. The altar, showcasing the Last Supper, will be painted in full colors together with the angel Igorot gong players.

The station of the cross set on both sides of the cave will get its first natural coating. Of added interest, anytime this week a group of student-volunteers from the National Institute of Information Technology headed by its administrator Vladimir Cayabas will also extend god turn cleaning service of the Shrine and its environs.

To me and my wife Sol, the varied activities to beautify the Shrine are God given. It’s a blessing from any perspective. We could not ask for more, especially since the Holy Week is just around the corner. Our heartfelt gratitude to Helen and Marina for caring and sharing.
This early, the special events committee of the BARP Foundation, which I chair, is preparing to set the commemorative events marking the 14th anniversary celebration of the foundation this July.

BARP president-CEO Prof. Federico Balanag requested me to just make a simple program without losing the essence and substance of the historic episode. "We are saving whatever amount of money we can for the completion of the ongoing construction of our elderly retirees multi-purpose center," Balanag said. The BARP building is located along Bokawkan Road at Cresencia Village Barangay. It is a five-storey building costing about P67 million.

Following his advice, the day’s schedule of events will be highlighted with a prayer, a brief cultural presentation of songs and accentuated with highland tribal and lowland provincial folk dances. The presentation of the BARP Foundation Leadership and Service Award to the 10 Most Outstanding media practitioners from the city others parts of the Cordilleras will climax the celebration.

The awards and recognition committee is headed by BOT Monroe Taclawan and yours truly as co-chairman. The National Correspondents Club of Baguio is co-sponsor of the journalism project. We will work closely with Joseph Zambrando of PIA-CAR, Jun Jun Dumlao of Philippine Star, Tom Picaña of the Manila Times, Frank Cimatu of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Atty. Aure Galacgab head of the local Philippine News Agency, particularly in the selection and screening of nominees for the prestigious awards.

We will also request the assistance of Dhobie de Guzman of ABS-CBN Northern Luzon who is one of the give members of the NCCB Board of Directors who took their oath of office last December during the PMA Cadets Day at the Park, a special offering of the 40th anniversary celebration of Silahis ng Pasko sa Baguio.

Meanwhile, the over two thousand assorted canned goods donated by active participants in the various programs of Silahis ng Pask 2013 under the NCCB-CSWDO “Delata para sa Kapwa” will be turned over to the city government. Arrangement on this score is being coordinated by Betty Fangasan’s office, co-chair of SNP.

The donations came from the PMA Corps of Cadets; children and parents who participated in the Mardi Gras, palaro winners and from devotees of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 01, 2014.

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