Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dayaw 2015: Reaching out to the Aytas in Porac, Pampanga

We thought it fitting to close year 2015 with indigenous color. We attended the Dayaw 2015 festival of indigenous peoples from Batanes to Sulu in Clark Field, Angeles City in mid-October, which was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Again, we had a great time learning about their 'native' culture through their colorful costumes, music and dance, and tasting their 'native' dishes, products of their own culinary arts.

Bugkalots and Aytas jamming with their indigenous musical instruments

We were present in the Dayaw outreach program in Barangay Villa Maria of Porac, Pampanga, and we saw how music and dance can be most effective in the integration of indigenous Filipino 'nations'. The Aytas of Villa Maria hosted the visit of indigenous peoples from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

We saw the Ayta and Bugkalot 'nations' having jovial oral exchanges about their musicality. The Aytas had the opportunity to try the gisada (two-string wooden violin) and the kolising (bamboo guitar) of the Bugkalots after listening while watching how these are played. It will not surprise us if the Porac Aytas will adapt lessons learned to their own musical instruments; after all, they also have a two-string guitar.

Binuho: Ayta way of cooking rice and chicken 
The visitors had a taste of Ayta culinary arts from the rice and chicken sinigang cooked in nodes of newly cut culms of buho (a bamboo species), one end open, one closed node remaining as bottom. The how-to’s:  after a period of immersion in water, measures of rice are wrapped in green banana leaves (about two cups when cooked), placed inside the buho, and cooked over fire. The sinigang mix is also called binuho (because it is cooked inside a node of buho). Bite-size cuts of chicken, sliced tomatoes and onions, strips of ginger and halved kamias are all mixed together with salt or fish sauce to taste. These are then scooped into the buho with enough space left to accommodate the broth produced from the cooking mix. The binuho is cooked over fire or glowing charcoal embers.  The Aytas also use buho for cooking a mix of river shrimps, crablets, small fishes, tomatoes and onions.

After the lunch of Ayta cuisine, it was fun to watch the Ayta children learning the basic dance movements of the visiting indigenous groups like the courtship and hunting dances of the Bugkalots. The enthusiasm of these children has to be sustained through the Dayaw festival and the schools of living traditions (SLT) so that indigenous culture can be preserved/conserved for generations to come.

Friday, December 25, 2015

May the Force be with you, Star Warriors!

The first time they appealed to movie goers worldwide in their fight against the Dark Force, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were the huggable teeny-warm types, and Han Solo, the ragged bloke of the neighborhood. My oldest nephew was not yet in grade school and he was more enthralled by the talking robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Those three are back in the latest episode of the George Lucas franchise film, but Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill (who appears at the end of the movie), now look like the typical Halloween-dressed grandparents going to the candy grocer to buy goodies for the trick-or-treat of neighborhood kids. 

Images of Star War posters found in the Internet.

I had to refresh my sister's memory while watching 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': that Princess Leia and Luke were siblings, children of Darth Vader (the boy Anakin in one episode), the Jedi who became a Sith Lord in the dark side of the Force.  

One memorable episode had the climactic light saber duel between Luke and his father: the good triumphing over evil. I don't recall though why Luke went away in exile to become a myth in the minds of the later generation of inhabitants in the Galaxy.

I can't recall if Han and Leia ever had a romantic PG scene that would bring forth their son Kylo Ren, and how they lost the young man to the dark side of the Force, now on the verge to become like Darth. Was he killed by the young woman with Luke's light saber, or will we see him in the next episode as the new Sith Lord? The young woman in this latest episode sports the name title of a man: Rey! 

I thought the defector Finn from the First Order in this latest movie died. But my nephew said no: he will be alive like Kylo in the next episode. I thought a love triangle was emerging in the new movie and would probably be a running sub-story in the next edition. Kylo after all revealed his 'human' emotions when he showed his face to Rey.

The last of the Jedi Knights, Luke Skywalker, is in planet Earth in our solar system, or in an Earth-like planet in the universe. The woman Rey was returning his light saber. Will he accept it? 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Boyhood Christmas before the ashes of Pinatubo came falling down

Christmas was so much simple then, long before Mt Pinatubo covered our childhood playgrounds with almost a meter of ashes from its hot bowels.

Pregnant Mary and Joseph. Painting by Badz Magsumbol.
Neighborhood kids went caroling with a limited repertoire of Christmas songs learned from grade school: Silent Night, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Whispering Hope, this last one seemed to be, in my recollection, the favorite.  Ang Pasko ay Sumapit was an alien song in our Ilocano corner of Zambales province when info tech was still limited to the radio after six o'clock in the evening (electricity was available only at night) and later, the transistor. No one had a TV (black and white) set.

Carolers were happy to receive a few centavos: ten was already big deal. When nobody came down to give a little reward to the ad hoc kids' choir, the house owners were challenged through a song: "Bulong ti apatot / Pascuayo a naimot / Umulog ti makarurod / Ta narnaran mi ti dandanog!" [Leaves of the noni plant / are Christmas gifts for the selfish / Come down if you're angry / And we will pummel you with hand blows!]

Midnight mass on Christmas eve was enjoyed by the innocent minds because of the 'walking star'. The church lights were turned off, and a big lighted bamboo lantern floated down from the choir loft to the tableaux of images of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds and the Three Kings, and an angel above them, at one front side of the altar.

That mass was strictly at midnight, not any earlier like today. The dawn masses were very early at four o'clock in the morning, which my father did not miss because an hour later, he'd take the bus to his work at the US naval base an hour away from our town. 

Mary and Joseph arrive at the manger. Painting by Badz Magsumbol.
Christmas day was really for children even if there were no malls or theme parks or fairs to spend the holiday. There were no high-tech toys to expect from relatives or god-parents (we were pioneers in recycling empty cans to toy cars). Children were on there own to ask for Christmas gifts, which were usually candies or suman (parents advised to bring bags for these native fare), around the barrio. God-parents gave at most ten centavos, a salapi (50 centavos) was already a fortune. 

Our family reunion was at an aunt's house. She was a widow of an American serviceman she married in Cavite before Japanese bombs fell at the start of the Second World War. She was in a better position to host a family gathering. She could buy goodies from the commissary in Subic Bay, hence, 'American' candies esp. M&M were our childhood treasures. Our luncheon table teemed with imported fruits, a privilege to American dependents at that time: apples and grapes.

What I remember fondly was the arroz Valenciana, which another aunt prepared only for the Christmas day reunion. So many light years between Christmas pasts and today as our nephew who took up culinary arts is now busy preparing the seafood paella for the family noche buena of Christmas 2015. 

Misa de Gallo starts at 8:30 this evening, and the feast to celebrate more than two thousand years of the birth of Jesus Christ would be around 10 o'clock.

Jesus, Maria y Josef. Painting by Badz Magsumbol.

Naimbag a Pacuayo [Ilocano]!  Maligayang Pasko [Filipino]! Merry Christmas [English]! Feliz Navidad [Hispanic]!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Presidential aspirant Grace Poe addresses 'migrantes'/OFWs

The Migrante Partylist presented their platform for the coming 2016 elections at a forum at the University of the Phillippines College of Law yesterday, 18 December 2015 to mark International Migrants Day.

Sen. Grace Poe responding to the presentations of the migrants/OFWs and their families.

Presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe came to listen to represntative migrants/OFWs, live or on audio/video, tearfully narrating their sad experiences and asking what the candidates can do about their plight if they get elected.  She later commented on the presentations and responded to the query with her 'must-do' on the concerns of the OFWs and their families.

As an aside, Poe acknowledged the presence of Nora Aunor, who she called 'the national artist in the hearts of all Filipinos.' Also, around to support the migrantes were senatoriables Congressman Neri Colmenares and well-known lawyer Lorna Kapunan.

Left to right: Migrante Partylist nominee, Atty Lorna Kapunan, Rep. Neri Colmenares and Nora Aunor.

The partylist nominees presented their General Course of Action using the acronym MIGRANTE:
  • M -  Makabayang pamamahala at mabilis na serbisyo! [People-centered governance and prompt efficient service]
  • I - Illegal recruitment at human traffiking, wakasan! [End to illegal recruitment and human trafficking]
  • G - Galing at husay ng migrante para sa bayan! [Skills and ability of migrants for the country]
  • R - Respeto sa mga karapatan! [Respect for rights]
  • A - Abusadong opisyal, tanggalin! [Dismiss abusive officials]
  • N - No kotong policy! [No bribery policy]
  • T - Tapat na representante ng migrante sa Kongreso! [True representation of migrants in Congress]
  • E - End labor export, trabaho sa Pinas, hindi sa labas! [End labor export, jobs in the Philippines not outside]
All these are summed up in their policy statement that "it is the basic right of Filipino migrants and their families to be given sufficient services and protection, especially those in distress."

Sen. Poe and Ate Guy.

Sen. Poe reflected on the issues affecting migrants and their families they leave behind here in the country, citing recent cases like the tanim-bala, the balikbayan box, the long line of returning OFWs waiting for OWWA certificates and the latest report on the OFW starved by her anorexic employer.  

She cited the reason why she also left to work abroad, zeroing on the need for more jobs in the country, for investments to produce 'made in the Philippines' items (like electric fans, etc) and thereby generate more employment. She quipped: "Kung artistahin lang po ako, eh di sana madali na lang akong nakapasok" and the audience laughed because she's the daughter of movie idol FPJ.

Some of the heartily applauded 'must-do' items she mentioned if given the chance to serve were:
  • firing government officials who do respond to, or dismiss complaints of migrants like the victims of illegral recruitment/human trafficking;
  • financial assistance to and financial literacy of migrants so that they can save part of their income for their future;
  • Fast internet access and a WiFi zone in every community for fast communication between migrants and their families; a wired city via CCTV accessible to all as this would help allay the fears for the security of the families;
  • Airport and terminal fees. Why fall in line for reimbursements/certificates when these should be automatic?
  • Symbolism of the balikbayan box: love and sacrifice of the migrant who buy sale items to fill it up for the folks back home; 
  • Increase the legal assistance fund, after all goverment has money if it only knows how to spend it properly.
Who should the people vote for? Senator Grace Poe said someone with these three qualities: integridad [integrity], kakayahan [ability] and malasakit [interest/care].

Listening to Senator Grace Poe.

My friend Mon videographed the talk of Sen. Poe in two parts, which can be seen via YouTube:  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas in UP Diliman 2015

Pag-iilaw based on design concept of artist Toym Imao.

The University of the Philippines Diliman campus closed 2015 with Christmas festivities that played on the motif of light and embodied in the theme "Dingas: Adhikaing Diliman, Adhikaing Bayan [Sparks: Diliman and Country Aspirations]'.

'Ang "dingas" bilang simbolikong kahulugan ng Kapaskuhan,' Chancellor Michael Tan said, 'ay napakagandang pagsasalarawan sa UP. Bilang lunsaran ng mga radikal na kaisipan, kamulatan sa mga usaping pambayan at mga pagkilos, ang pamana ng UP ay mistulang maliit na ningas ng apoy na unti-unting lumalagablab. Pinag-aalab nito ang damdaming makabayan at pagmamahal sa bayan ng ating mga mag-aaral, guro at kawani.'  [The spark as symbol of the meaning of Christmas is a beautiful description of UP. As platform for launching radical ideas, consciousness of national issues and actions, the heritage of UP seems to be a small spark that slowly spreads out to fire the patriotism and love of country among our students, faculty and personnel.]

The festival mood was turned on by Aninag [Reflection] 2015 on 27 November: a procession around the campus led by university students carrying intricate Pampanga lanterns mounted on bamboo poles, which was capped by Pag-iilaw, the lighting of the campus, the Oblation and plaza through the latest installation art of sculptor Toym Imao. One hundred seven (107) lighted balloons, representing UP's 107th anniversary, were also released to symbolize the new hope of the nation, 

College of Social Work and Community Development.
The Aninag was inspired by the Lubenas, a Kapampangan tradition of evening processions to the church during the nine days of the “simbang gabi” leading to up to Christmas Eve. In Diliman, it stopped at six stations where a light show, puppel show and choral singing of Christmas songs were staged, and culminated at the Oblation plaza where universty officials turned on the lights for the Pag-iilaw

With multi-color lighting and three flame components, Imao refashioned the Oblation to symbolize a sulo [torch], the three towers in the Quezon Hall as lighthouses, the lights in the Oblation Plaza as sails and the trees around Quezon Hall, adorned with red lights for the season, as fire trees. According to the Imao, these metaphors are for the University’s roles as a spark for new ideas, a guide to action and the beacon for public service.

"The Pag-iilaw," explained Chancellor Michael Tan, "played on the theme of dingas, a spark that catches on and spreads, lumalagablab,"  

Other festivities followed:

The Carillon Plaza became the concert arena for the Krizzmazz Jazz of the UP Jazz Band on 10 December for all jazz enthusiasts and music lovers.  The bells also opened, closed the concert with UP Naming Mahal and rendered Christmas songs for some time in the early evening,

College of Arts and Letters
The UP Filipiniana Folk Dance Gorup, including some 50 alumni, in celebration of its 80th anniversary staged Tanglaw 2015: Isang Pamaskong Konsyerto [Beacon 2015: A Christmas Concert] on 11 December,  The dance concert comprised two parts: folk dances from all over the archipelago, and modern dances choreographed to local love and Chrismas songs.

The climax, of course, of Christmas in UP Diliman, was Parada ng mga Parol [Lantern Parade] 2015 of 14 December evening.  This is the lastes continuation of a university tradition that started almost a hundred years ago (1922), albeit interrupted by the Second World War and the hiatus due to martial law in 1970-1976, or cancelled due to 'security threats' in 2006.  

It was also inspired by the folk custom of carrying lanterns of various shapes and sizes to light the way to the church for the nine-day early morning misas de aguinaldo or the midnight misa de gallo of Chrismas eve during the Spanish period.

The Lantern Parade has evolved with the times reflecting the changing social and political landscape of the University and the country. Modern technology like computers and robotics has also influenced the creation of lanterns and floats. The parade has also shown the diverse faces of university such as the LGBT sector (UP Babaylan) and the Muslim community,

This year, several academic units highlighted their foundation anniversaries with colorful lanterns: College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (float/lantern depicted a 'solar system' of thoughts), College of Dentistry (used a fully-dressed female figure ala Oblation with the iconic sablay), School of Urban and Regional Planning (had Oblation with symbolic urban structural icons), and the Cesar E.A. Virata School of Business (float/lantern a towering 100th birthday cake).

Institute of Islamic Studies.
UP Mindanao had a delegation in southern Philippines costume; their float/lantern was a typical Muslim house; likewise, the participants from the Institute of Islamic Studies, Other academic units had the vinta and sari-manok as motif. The College of Architecture had a massive Muslim Mindanao house from which a giant sari-manok emerged when it split into three.  The College of Arts and Letters used the Manobo story as float theme: man and woman confronting an eagle.

University and national issues were subjects of the protest floats/lanterns of SAMASA (the student political party), College of Mass Communications and the All UP Workers Alliance.

SAMASA: Never Again! Never Forget!
SAMASA had a 'military tank' painted with the slogans protesting 'the resurgence of fascism' and enjoining spectators  to 'Never Again! Never Forget!' martial law and the Marcos dictatorship. This is the same tank sans the slogans and the mounted lights that Toym Imao and his friends use in the reenactment of Second World War scenes during Independence Day or Bataan Day celebtations.

The College of Mass Communications had a giant microphone decorated with CDs and live-streaming TV sets vis-a-vis their protest theme of 'Stop Killing Journalists!'.

The All UP Workers Alliance came with banners, streamers and a float/lantern to voice out their concerns about university policies affecting them.

The most awaited part of the parade featured the depiction by the College of Fine Arts students of classic Filipino films:  
  • float/lanterns for Dalagang Bukid (vintage 1919), Dyesebel (the original had Edna Luna as the mermaid), Pedro Penduko, Juan Tamad Goes to Congress (directed by and starring National Artist Manuel Conde), Facifica Falayfay (a Dolphy movie), Asiong Salonga (Joseph Estrada in the starring role), Ang Panday (Fernando Poe as Flavio), Burlesk Queen (Vilma Santos as the dancer), Ganito Kami Noon (National Artist Eddie Romero film) and Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag (National Artist Lino Brocka film); the last one was intriguing - a massive box painted black being pulled with large ropes; and
Juan Tamad Goes to Congress
  • costumed participants for Genghis Khan (National Artist Manuel Conde film), Sister Stella L (Mike de Leon, director; Vilma Santos, title role), and Bagets (UP alumnus Mario de los Reyes, director).
Sister Stella L served as a vehicle for protest: re-enactmenf of violence during labor union strikes, and some participants carried protest slogans like 'Stop Lumad Killings!'.

Asiong Salonga

Fine Arts, already a Hall-of-Famer was not in the competition for the best lantern (won by the College of Engineering). The different classes competed among themselves. Ang Panday was declared best; Juan Tamad and Asiong Salonga were the runners-up.

Ang Panday

To us the winner was 'Juan Tamad Goes to Congress'. The congressman was depicted as a pig wearing the Juan Tamad mask: an allusion to pork barrel and the workstyle of our lawmakers.

Maligayang Pasko 2015!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Simbang Gabi in the Philippines (it was once prohibited)

Misa de Aguinaldo at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theatre.

When we were young, the early morning masses were held at four o'clock in the morning. The Christmas season then was cold, and we had to wear a thick sweater or jacket before stepping out of the house and walk ten blocks to the church.  

We eagerly waited for the midnight mass of  Christmas eve because of a 'walking star' when the chuurch lights were turned off. We were awed by the lighted star lantern descending from the choir loft to the 'belen' at one side of the altar. 

In our Ilocano country in Zambales, there was no 'Simbang Gabi'. It was Misa de Aguinaldo for the early morning mass, and Misa de Gallo for the midnight service. That Filipino term came into our consciousness when we started to sing Christmas songs in the national language. 

Probably 'Simbang Gabi' became a literarily and politically correct term during the martial law years. In the 'Guidelines on the celebration of Simbang Gabi in the Archdiocese of Manila' issued by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales and Cardinal Luis Antionio Tagle on 15 November2010 and 25 November 2013, respectively, '[t]he adjustment from dawn to evening [during the martial law years] was in view of the curfew hours imposed during the martial Law regime.Today, this practice continues to be kept and has become popular even if the curfew hour restriction is no longer in force. Many of the faithful who follow the urban rhythm of work find it easier to join in the evening instead of the dawn Masses. This adjusted time of Simbang Gabi allows them to continue receiving spiritual nourishment and appreciation of the Christian meaning of Christmas amidst secularized celebration."

There had also been other changes in recent times. This week, for example, we saw posters announcing that the Simbang Gabi will be held at 6:30 in the evening from 15 to 23 December in our village chapel. These come, we suppose, in the realm of 'anticipated masses' of early Saturday evenings for the regular Sunday masses.

"From the beginning," the Guidelines say, "Simbang Gabi has always been celebrated at an early hour from 4 to 5 o'clock in the morning. It is this Mass alone that is considered Simbang Gabi or Misa de Aguinaldo. Other Masses celebrated during the nine days before Christmas are celebrated as Masses of the Advent Season, and should follow the norms of liturgy of the Advent season. If the Misa de Aguinaldo is celebrated from 8:00 o'clock in the evening onwards, it should be motivated by genuine pastoral care for the spiritual benefit of the faithful."

In addition: "The celebration of Misa de Aguinaldo at other times, e.g. morning, midday, or late afternoon, is not in keeping with the liturgical norms of the Archdiocese of Manila and is to be regarded as an abuse. Therefore, only the dawn, and when pastorally required, the evening Masses are considered Simbang Gabi or Misa de Aguinaldo." 

We'd like to think that the Simbang Gabi scheduled on 15-23 December was cleared with the Archbishopbric of Manila.

Today, the Catholic Church is dealing with time schedules of these traditional Mass celebrations to cope up with the changes in the lifestyles and working environment of the faithful.

Belens with Mary and Joseph in Filipino attires.

History tells us that there were events that caused for the suspension or even prohibition of conducting the Misa de Aguinaldo:

More than a century after the Christianization of the Philippines, Fray Juan Sanchez (1683-89) was writing about the Missas de Aguinaldo being contaminated "with practices that were superstitious, and contrary to the holy rites of the church."  

On 12 October 1680, Fray Philippe Pardo Archbishop-elect of Manila issued a decree prohibiting the Missas de Aguinaldo, "[b]ecause of the excesses and undisciplined manner of their previous celebrations, so many learned and devout ecclesiastics entertained doubts about it."

"Following the example of the Archdioceses of Mexico where the celebration is already prohibited, the Manila Prelate consulted authorities among the Religious and issued the corresponding mandate. The Prelate received news that the celebration of the Holy Masses which are sung during the nine (9) days preceding the birth of Our Lord is already prohibited. The Archdiocese, on its part, must comply with such prohibition.

"He therefore orders that, for the present, the Misas de Aguinaldo must not, in any form, be sung or recited. No musical festivity is to be held in the Churches, no musical instrument is to be played nor any religious song to be sung regardless of its nature. Non-compliance is to be punished.

"The prelate likewise commands that the Royal Decree be posted on the door of the Churches in Manila and that parish priests be sent copies of said decree for their information and compliance." [Anales, f.120; pp 131-132].

The revolution of 1898 upset the church-state relationship that prevailed in the governance of the Philippine islands for more than 300 years. 

Christmas in Manila and the celebration of the Missas de Aguinaldo were affected by the disturbances created by the conflict among the Filipino, Spanish and American armed forces.

Archbishop Bernardo Nozaleda issued Circulars in December 1898 to the parishes of Manila and the suburbs, the chaplains of the schools,and the rectors or priors of the different religious orders not to celebrate the 'Aguinaldo Masses and the one called Gallo' for the reasons and causes that known to all' [he did not state them], and 'the exceptional circumstances and pains that the Church is currently experiencing in this country.' 

In Zambales and other places where there were no Roman Catholic priests for many years after 1898, there could have been no Missas de Aguinaldo or Gallo. Probably, only the Aglipayan parishes celebrated these traditional Chrismas rites until the church of Rome has began filling up again the vacant parishes with secular and regular clergy,

  • Anales Ecclesiasticos de Philipinas, 1574-1682. Philippine Church History, A Summary Translation, Vol.2. Manila: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila and Rev. Fr. Ruperto C. Santos, STL, 1994.
  •  Box 1.b.5 Decretos, Oficios, Consultas (1826-1841, 1868-1896). Folder 1 – Decretos (Libro de Gobierno, Ordenes y Oficios) 1862-1896. Archdiocesan Archives of Manila.
  • Sanchez, Juan, et al. (1683-89). Felipe Pardo as archbishop. The Pardo Controversy. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 : explorations by early navigators, etc. (Blair, E.H. & Robertson, J. A., Eds., Bourne, E.G., Tr.).   39(1):245-246. Mandaluyong, Rizal: Cachos Hermanos, 1973. 
  •  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. Guidelines on the Celebration of Simbang Gabi in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Immaculate Conception in Philippine history

19th century Inmacuda image.
Visitors at the Manila Cathedral would not miss the image of the Immaculate Conception enshrined at the main altar. On the Sunday preceding her feast day, 08 December,  a grand procession of Marian images had been held around Intramuros these past many years.

We visited the Cathedral on the 7th, and we discovered a new image on a colorful carroza inside one of the Cathedral's side altars. 

It's described as a "19th century Philippine-made image of the Virgin [that] was found in an antique shop [that] resembl[es] the Immaculada venerated in the Franciscan church in pre-war Intramuros"  It was recreated based on an "old photograph of the original Immaculada .. believed to have been lost during the Second World War."

There was a Royal Decree ordering compliance to a brief issued on 16 February 1761 advocating that in all domains under the Spanish monarchy the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is the universal and singular patroness.  

This can be found as an entry in Cedulario 1748-1768 (folder SDS-699 in the National Archives of the Philippines).  Rose Marie Mendoza, good friend and fellow researcher at the National Archives these last couple of years, posted in Facebook a photograph of this entry page just in time for the feast day of the patroness (08 December 2015). 

The entry reads: "Real Cedula. Que ordena el cumplimiento del breve que acompaƱa de 16 Febrero ultimo para que en todos los dominios de la monarquia EspaƱola se tome por universal y singular patrona y abogada de ella a la Inmaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria." [in the backside of page 289 of the Cedulario]

That came after several events in the history of the Inmaculada in the Philippines. These can be found in the Anales Ecclesiasticos de Philipinas, 1574-1682, published as Philippine Church History, A Summary Translation in two volumes in 1994: 
  •  Item 4 under Philippine Historical Personality - Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (f.16-f.17 of the Anales; page 30 of vol.1, Summary): "On June 24, 1571, [Legazpi] took possesion of Manila. It was the feastday of St. John the Baptist. On that day too, he established the Parochial Church of the city under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Its first parish priest was Lcdo, Juan de Villanueva."
  • Item 13 under the Biography of Maestro Don Fray Domingo de Salazar, O.P., D.D., First Bishop and First Archbishop of Manila (f.18-f.21; p 35): "On December 21, 1581 it [the church constructed by Bishop Salazar] was made into a Cathedral, the first Episcopal seat in the entire archipelago. A suffragan to the Archdiocese of Mexico, it was dedicated to the Most Pure and Immaculate Conception of Our Lady by virtue of the Bull of Pope Gregory XIII issued at Rome in the 7th year of His Pontificate in 1578."     
  • PROMULGATION. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the Cathedral (and Archdiocese of Manila (f.110; pp 126-127):  "The last promise Archbishop Poblete and Governor Manrique de Lara fulfilled dealt with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. They agreed to celebrate her feast permanently every 8th of December up to its Octave.
How was the first day celebrated? "Thoughout the celebration there were fireworks, plays etc.On the first day, the Governor and the Royal Audiencia were the sponsors. A Pontifical Sung Mass was offered by the Archbishop at the Cathedral with Don Fr. Antonio de San Gregorio,OFM, Bishop of Nueva Caceres as preacher. The celebration was continued at the Cathedral the following day with the City and its Officials as sponsors. The succeeding celebrations were celebrated (and sponsored) by the Religious Orders. The last day was celebrated at the San Francisco Church with the Nueva Caceres Prelate as celebrant and the Archbishop as preacher.'

Then there is the interesting story on the death of Archbishop Miguel de Poblete on 08 December 1667 (f.198-f.200; pp 210-212:

The Archbishop was suffering from the recurrence of an ailment; he also had dysentery which 'so weakened him that he had to take to his bed,' He could no longer deliver his sermon, and complicated by high fever, 'on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, December 7, it was suggested for him to make his last will' and 'to prepare himself for the Holy Viaticum.'  The Viaticum was brought from Sta. Cruz instead from the Cathedral and adminsitered to him at four in the afternoon that day.

The Inmaculada at the cental altar of Manila Cathedral.
After 1:00 a.m. of December 8, "they [probablythe servant, Fr Juan de la Paz and the Archbishop's nephew] saw that he was lying on his right side with his right hand on his cheek. His eyes were closed and his robe, unruffled. Thinking that he was just probably asleep, they made some noise, But as they did not notice any movement, the Father Confessor called to him. Not hearing any response, they knew the Archbishop had passed away. At precisely that moment, the Cathedral tower clock struck. It was 2:00 a.m. of December 8, 1667, a Thursday and the feast of the Immaculate Concepcion of which Archbishop Poblete was a staunch devotee,'

He could not be buried that day because they were celebrating the Royal Coronation. 

He had been staying at his house by the Pasig river, "When the Intramuros gates were opened, they brought the body there for embalming.  They transported it aboard a small sampan. Upon docking, they transferred it into a hammock. Hardly had they entered the Sto. Domingo gate when the Cathedral and the Church bells of Intramuros started ringing. Such was the practice at daybreak every December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Religious escorting the body commented that indeed the corpse of such a holy and faultless man really merited a grand "welcome". The soldiers at the gate, with tears of joy, jubilantly received and let the party pass through. A big, informal procession followed.'

The body was laid out in the Archbishop's Palace. Its doors opened at 4:00 a.m. of December 9 so that the throng of people from Manila and from towns 6 or 8 leagues away from the city could pay their respect.  He was buried in the Cathedral three days later, 11 December, a Sunday.

Photos by the author,

  • Cedulario 1748-1768. Folder SDS-699. National Archives of the Philippines.
  • Anales Ecclesiasticos de Philipinas, 1574-1682. Philippine Church History, A Summary Translation, Vol. 1. (Manila: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila and Rev. Fr. Ruperto C. Santos), 1994.