Pueblo Amante de Maria: The Fiipinos’ Love for Mary, a coffee table book launched recently, features 18 Marian shrines in the Philippines. It could serve as a Marian pilgrim’s guide or historical backgrounder. But it also offers theological reflections so that devotees would understand more deeply the cultural and spiritual context of the Marian devotion that Filipino Catholics are known for.
To quote Jesuit theologian and mariologist Fr. Catalino Arevalo: “To understand Filipino Catholics, one must understand their love for Mary.”
This love takes the form of unique and showy displays of affection not seen even in countries where some of the Marian devotions originated. Consider the Santacruzan. Filipinos have homegrown Marian devotions with homespun titles of the Filipinos’ own making.
Whence sprung this unabashed affection? “Mama Mary,” an affectionate address not quite two decades old, is distinctly Filipino and suggests intimacy and devotion.
“Mama Mary” will not replace her other Spanish, English and Filipino names—Nuestra Señora, Our Lady, Ina and Iloy, among them, but “Mama Mary” is here to stay and is often heard among OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and immigrants all over the world.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, in his foreword, explains the book’s title thus: “We are a people, a nation in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary because she loves us . . . I know this because I have experienced it in my family, my hometown, in my life and in my ministry.
“We love Mary because she is the Spirit-filled Mother given to us by Jesus before he breathed his last. A new family was born at the foot of Jesus’ cross…Mary and Jesus’ disciples are at the core of that spiritual family of God.”
Writes Fr. Arevalo: “Bayang sumisinta kay Maria,” “pueblo amante de Maria”—in the original Spanish of Mr. Emeterio Barcelon’s and Fr. Norberto Carceller’s hymn for the International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (1937)–speaks of Filipinos as ‘a people in love with Mary.’”
The book includes other theological essays by Bishop Teodoro Bacani, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Dr. Josefina M. Manabat and Arevalo (editorial consultant). It also lists some 800 parishes that bear Marian titles.
Here are the featured Marian shrines (by no means complete) and excerpts from some of the writers’ pieces:
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Diocese of Cubao)
“Our cathedral in Cubao is just one of the many churches placed under her patronage with this title... In the midst of the trials and tribulations of our world, the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a source of light, of home and consolation.” By Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco
Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Diocese of Antipolo)
“We can go and ask (our Lady) not only for safe travel to another place or country but also for help in our journey through life.” By Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes
Our Lady of La Naval de Manila (Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City)
“Although there are no naval battles to be fought at the moment, there are other needs which the people ask Our Lady to intercede for.” By Fr. Virgilio Ojoy, OP
Our Lady of Manaoag (Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan)
“This basilica holds the relics of the crib where our Lord lay when he was born from the Virgin Mary. This same basilica is the oldest church dedicated to the holy Mother of God as a fruit of the Council of Ephesus in the year 431.” By Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Fr. Isidro Abano OP
Virgen Milagrosa de Pueblo de Orani (Diocese of Balanga)
“There are still so many stories of personal and communal experiences of loving interventions by the Virgen MIlagrosa. To this day, the townsfolk affirm, (she) provides and performs miracles for her devoted and faithful children . . .” By Bishop Ruperto C. Santos
Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran, Parañaque)
“Her visitors come at all hours of the day. A popular actor, a noted politician, a famous celebrity shed all accoutrements of fame and fortune to pray at the first hours of Wedneday, her special day.” By Peachy E. Yamsuan
Our Lady of Peñafrancia (Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres)
“Many miracles were reported in answer to prayers to the Lady, and devotion to her spread wide. Like the biblical ‘mustard seed’ it (has become) like ‘giant tree’ whose branches extend to other parts of the world . . .” By Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi OP
Our Lady of Fatima (Diocese of Malolos)
“The shrine has continuously spread the message of Fatima. The secret of Fatima is not a message of fear but a message of hope.” By Bishop Jose F. Oliveros
Our Lady of Piat (Cagayan)
“’Yema Tam Ngamin!’ Mother to us all, is how the Blessed Mother is endearingly referred to in the Ybanag language.” By Roberto Cannu Caballero and Archbishop Sergio L. Utleg
Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria of Jaro (Iloilo)
“'Ang Iloy' (The Mother) is how Ilonggos speak of her—in the third person…In Iloilo, the words ‘macadto sa Iloy’ (I’m going to the mother) mean only one thing: a visit to the Jaro Cathedral.” By Jesselynn G. de la Cruz
Our Lady of Caysasay of Taal (Batangas)
“The history of the Virgin of Caysasay is the stuff many Marian stories in the Philippines are made of, as fascinating, if not as culture laden, as that of Mexico’s famous Our Lady of Guadalupe.” By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (Ermita, Manila)
“I have always looked upon the Miraculous Medal as a mini-cathechism and a bible for the poor.” By Fr. Serafin F. Peralta CM
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Makati)
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is still considered patroness of indigenous peoples, …of the pregnant and of the children in the womb, patroness of those who wish to have children . . . of elders…and of photographers.” By Msgr. Salvador R. Jose
Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Cavite and Zamboanga City)
“On fiesta day in Imus, one may wish to count the number of bodies swaying to the beat of the local band, or when the music stops, running fingers over the beads of the rosary in community prayers. As many as these devotees are the miracles and favors of ‘Nana Pilar.’ Down south in Zamboanga City, some 900 kms. from Cavite, along the coastline of the vast island of Mindanao, Our Lady of the Pilar also reigns as queen and mother.” By Jesselynn de la Cruz
Nuestra Señora de Guia (Ermita, Manila)
“Mary remains . . . beloved mother and intercessor, to whom they come for guidance in physical travel and in navigating the winding paths of their life journeys.” By Jesselynn de la Cruz
Our Lady of Lourdes (Quezon City)
“In 1951, the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Lourdes finally ended when it found its new home and sanctuary at the corner of Kanlaon and Retiro Streets in Sta. Mesa Heights in Quezon City.” By Fr. Chito B. Bartolo OFMCap
Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (Sta. Ana, Manila)
“In the language of the Filipino soul, the name and image by which she is known and venerated is more deeply profound and meaningful. Ina ng Walang Mag-ampon.” By Jesselynn de la Cruz
Our Lady of Light (Cainta, Rizal)
“The venerable translation of the parish’s titular, as immortalized in the first Tagalog novena to the patroness published in 1884, is ‘Ina ng Calinauagan.’” by Michael P. delos Reyes and Jesselyn de la Cruz
The book also provides the shrines’ addresses.
Published by Vilma Roy Duavit and Louie O. Reyes of Reyes Publishing, the book’s chief editor was Peachy Yamsuan. Photographs by Noli Yamsuan, book design by Pie G. David with Joey A. San Juan as production supervior.
The book is sold at The Catholic Book Center at Pius XII Center on UN Ave., and other Catholic book shops.
Ma. Ceres P. Doyo has been a journalist for more than 30 years, 25 years as a staff writer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer where she writes a weekly column "Human Face."