WE ARE happy to inform all the devotees of Mama Mary of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna along Km. 7, Asin Road that program preparations are well underway.
The 32nd anniversary celebration of the place of worship inside a rock cave is set on Sunday, October 7. We are hoping and praying that by that time, the weather condition in our country would be much better than what we have been experiencing for the last two months or more.
While writing my column, we are waiting for Typhoon “Ompong” to hit Northern Luzon including the Cordilleras and other parts of the archipelago.
In the city, we have a friend, a generous resident whose name is Ompong. I am, of course, referring to my good and esteemed associate Ompong Tan who owns and manages the Colorworld Computer Processing establishment along busy Session Road.
I must say that my Fil-Chinese Baguio boy is one of my very precious asset in many of my civic-social programs like the annual Silahis ng Pasko sa Baguio which will be celebrating its 45th year anniversary this coming December. Ompong is a civic-minded businessman and a journalist like me. He arrived in the city a few weeks ago, after a month vacation with his family in the United States.
Back to the Shrine’s activities. A concelebrated Holy Mass to be offered by Rev. Fr. Alejandro Bangilan, our present Spiritual Adviser of the Shrine of the Brown Madonna and the national Correspondents Club of Baguio (NCCB) and Rev. Fr. Joey Paduyao will offer the mass, scheduled at 10 o’clock in the morning. Before the Holy Eucharist, a floral offering and a candle light ceremony will be on centerstage at the altar.
The members of the project committee led by Wilfredo and his charming wife Brenda, from Urdanita City, Raffy Policarpio and Punong Barangay Edith Ibarra of Upper Quezon Hill and FBASECA president will officiate in the candle lighting rites. This early we are reminding our Mama Mary devotees to join us in once-in-a-year episode. The general public is invited to be with us during the special event. A simple salu-salo, courtesy of the project officers of the Shrine and friends will be held after the mass.
Here are a few bits and pieces of information about the Shrine which happily through the year have become a nationwide popular place of worship in the Province of Benguet. The Shrine was formally inaugurated on October 4, 1986 after the EDSA Revolution. The development of the Shrine was modestly initiated by yours truly with the approval of the NCCB, the Mountain Province Roman Catholic Diocese then headed by Bishop Emeliano Madangeng and the authorities of the St. Vincent Parish Church at Campo Filipino.
Approval of the project also came from the municipality of Tuba, Benguet, then headed by OIC Municipal Mayor Albert Claro, the Sitio official of Pacac, Tinlayan Barangay and residents of the place led by WWII veteran Daniel Ignas and Victor Dulay. The first Spiritual Adviser of the Shrine was Rev. Fr. Renato Bancaya from the Baguio Recoletos Seminary.
Mrs. Nonette de Villar the lovely better half of then Sec. Renato de Villar of the Department of National Defense was the guest of honor. A plane load of ladies from the AFP were in her entourage. Provincial officials, City Mayor Ernesto Bueno and his wife Bibi, Mrs. Cecile Afable, Municipal officials from Tuba and NCCB officers and members were also present. Monsignor Madangeng, Rev. Frs. Bancaya, Roger Positar and Fred Jubac offered the concelebrated Holy Mass.
The Shrine of the Brown Madonna is purely a work of love and prayers from the heart. It is a symbol of our everlasting faith and enduring affection to the Blessed Mother Mary, in our seemingly unending quest for national peace and solidarity, respect and understanding through the power of prayer. We named the place of worship as the Shrine of the Brown Madonna to symbolize the Pilino Brown Race. The sculptured figure of Mama Mary is “seven” feet tall to remind everyone that there are seven days in a week and that each day is a prayer day.
The development of the Shrine and its maintenance is the resume of interest undying love made possible through the kindness and generosity of benefactors composed of Engr. Jerome Cabluyen, Col. And Mrs. Felipe Buena, Pat Pruna, Eddie Marcelo and family, my eldest and youngest sisters Stela and Virginia, my eldest daughter Maray Jayne, Congressman and Mrs. Bernardo Vergara, Reynaldo Nauyac Lopez, Clarita Bandonil, Ang Chiong Bi, Director Hermie Velasquez, Delfin Bermuzez, Mary Ann Rosales and family, Dominador Panglao and family, Belen Antejo, Alma Flores, Gloria Lee, Jess Meneses, Martin Udan, Delia Gaerlan and family, and of course manong Daniel, and Mr. And Mrs. Dulay. My sister Stela coordinated the participation and support of the group as mentioned.
In the early 20’s more benefactors came to the fore. Among the more prominent personalities were the Leyson family from Urdaneta City in Pangasinan, Architects Elmer and Jojo Alba from Quezon City, Jaime and Gladys Tamsi from Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet.
I must say that my everlasting inspiration in all my project undertaking is my better half Consuelo Sol and our loved ones. Thank you Lord for giving me the physical strength, my mental capabilities and your blessing while I share my happiness to make others happier.