In a town blessed with progress and traumatized by horrific Ondoy, where signs of both God’s provisions and the impending wrath of nature are ever present, religious devotion runs deep.
On days culminating the Lenten season, the townspeople of San Mateo Rizal are accustomed to participate in the various Holy Week Activities, whether to continue a family tradition or as an intense personal devotion.
Widely participated are the almost daily processions between Holy Wednesday and Easter Sunday. On Holy Wednesday, 57 life-size religious statues depicting key events of the Passion and Death of Christ on decorated carrozas are solemnly paraded along the streets followed either by devotees reciting the rosary or by a brass band.
In San Mateo, the townsfolk are in-charged in the care and preparation of each statue for the grand processions. But in contrast to biblical characterization of Christ dressed in plain clothing, the statues of Jesus paraded in Holy week processions are dressed grandly and ostentatiously in beaded satin or embroidered velvet.
Mrs. Guillermo “Mameng” Disederio commissioned a sculptor to carve the image of Maria Jacobe for the procession of the following year. Being a seamstress by profession, Mameng made the intricately embroidered dress for Maria Jacobe.
Equally stunning is the image of Maria Magdalena which was inherited by Gregorio Manahan from his mother Felicidad Francisco-Manahan in 1962. The 1920’s statue was originally owned by Brigida Agapito-Francisco. For more than 50 years, the Manahan family supervised the preparation and participation of the image and its antique silver carroza in the annual Holy Week processions.
Like the image of Maria Magdalena, many of the statues dressed for the procession are heirloom pieces such as the image of Saint John. The sons of Sixto Pagkatipunan traced the ownership of the image of San Juan to their forebears. It was inherited by Sixto from his father Vicente Pagkatipunan in 1938. The body of the statue has been recently carved to accommodate the antique head and hands of the original image.
Like the Pagkatipunans, the De Los Angeles family of Barangay Patiis once owned a pre-war image of San Pedro. Unfortunately, the image was destroyed during World War II. Since 1945, San Pedro has been absent in the yearly processions until in 1965 when Oscar De Los Angeles commissioned a sculptor to carve the head and hands for the new image.
For some time, the image of San Pedro has made through the procession with a body made of bamboo commonly called the bastidor. When Oscar passed away in 1986, the care and ownership of the image was given to Randy Florencio -a neighbor of the De Los Angeles who has been dedicated in preparing the image for the annual Holy Week procession.
The current image of San Mateo is a replica of a much earlier image. The original San Mateo was owned by Vicente Gugol of Barangay Dulong Bayan. When he passed away, his daughter Gliceria Gugol-Cruz took care of the image until in 1968 when the image was inherited by Gliceria’s son, Teodoro Cruz. In 1991, the image was destroyed in fire incident. However, a new image was commissioned by Teodoro for the 1992 procession.
Avelina Bandong owns the image of Maria Salome. Maria Salome was the wife of Zeedeo and mother to apostles James and John. She is one of the women who followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. The image of Maria Salome was commissioned by a Paete master in 1991. The image helps the Bandong family ties close.
The image Maria Cleofe was originally made not for the town of San Mateo but for the Laguna town of Pakil. The image was bestowed by Pakil-born Guillerma Pasang to her daughter Gloria Isorena-Mateo. In 1963, Gloria married Rodolfo “Ruding” Mateo Sr. -a native of San Mateo. Gloria led her family in continuing the tradition of traveling to Pakil to prepare the image for the procession in her home town. However, in 1988, Gloria decided to bring the image to San Mateo where it now joins the yearly procession.
The image of the Panalangin depicts the Agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani. The image is under the care of the Candaba family by Mary, wife of Teodoro Candaba Jr. who inherited the image from his mother Consolacion Candaba. The original ownership of the image is traced to Candeng Sta. Maria.
The image of Mahal na Poong Jesus Nazareno has a large and loyal following each year. Perhaps its because of the popularity of the Nazareno in Quiapo. Both images depict the suffering Christ carrying the weight of the Cross. The original image is owned by the Vicente family of Barangay Sta. Ana.
The original image was created by Marcelo Vicente during Peacetime. With the passing of Marcelo, Guadalupe Vicente inherited the image. The image was a destroyed while inside the Church of Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu during World War II. Gerardo Vicente (brother of Guadalupe) commissioned a second image after the war and together with his daughter Margarita Vicente-Marquez. Generations of Vicente took turns in taking care of the Nazareno. The image is currently under the care of Arnold Salandan and Robert Manahan, great grandsons of the original owner.
The image of Sta. Veronica is centuries-old including its treasures and silver carroza. The image was carved in the 1800s in Paete, Laguna and was brought from Pangil, Laguna to San Mateo by Victoriano and Andrea Santos in the 1930’s. The image and all its original treasures are currently under the care of Theresa Manahan-Jazmines who inherited the image from her mother Rosita Santos-Manahan.
The Virgen de la Soledad is the climax of the Wednesday Procession. The image was inherited by Isabel Manahan-Santiago from its original owner Andrea Diaz. The Santiago family, led by Salud Santiago is in-charged in taking care of the statue and with its preparation for the annual procession during Holy Wednesday.
Reference: Tessa Manahan-Jazmines, editor, Debosyon at Kasaysayan: Ang Mahal na Araw sa Bayan ng San Mateo, Parokya ng Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu