Tanay Church

Tanay Church

SAN ILDEFONSO’S GOLDEN CHASUBLE. One day in year 657 A.D., the Blessed Mother came down from heaven to personally reward the Archbishop of Toledo, Ildefonso with a golden chasuble for writing a book in the Her honor. Centuries later, the archbishop became a saint and pilgrimages are made on the site where the Blessed Mother appeared to San Ildefonso.

In Tanay, Rizal, a church dedicated to San Ildefonso de Toledo was built in 1773 where we climbed the stairs behind the main altar to touch the image of the saint dressed in a golden chasuble.

Tanay Rizal Church

Tanay church facade

A NATIONAL CULTURAL TREASURE. We went to Tanay on a chilly January for brunch at a street-side carinderia that serves generous bowls of steaming bulalo. Rambull’s Bakahan sa Tanay is just across the 200-year old Iglesia Parroquial de San Ildefonso de Toledo.

Construction of Tanay church is a product of the Baroque taste of the Franciscan friar Alonso de Fentanes. The church was declared a National Cultural Treasure for its architecture and for the exquisitely-carved Baroque retablos along with the antique images of saints and the wooden relleves with folksy sculpture showing the Stations of the Cross.

Tanay Church side altars

Tanay Church main altar

BAROQUE RETABLOS. The smell of old wood mixed with fresh floor wax dominates the air upon entering Tanay Church. Glowing in Baroque splendor at the end of the dimly lit interior are the massive wooden retablos. Baroque style became popular after the completion of the Jesuit mother church Il Gesu in Rome. This style is characterized by the lavish use of serpentine scrolls, decorative spirals and grandness that will make the viewers feel they had glimpse of the richness of heaven.

The retablos at Tanay Church were installed in 1786. It was an era when the Baroque style was predominantly applied in church buildings and interiors in order to strike the natives with awe and make a statement of wealth, power and dominance of the Catholic Church.

Tanay Church stations of the cross

FOLKSY RELLEVES. Equally impressive were the wood reliefs with primitive sculpture depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross carved by a native artist.

When the Spaniards came, they admired the ability of the natives at imitating things they see and make copies of them on wood. Relleves were at first folksy and crude copies from estampitas or illustrations from prayer books brought over by the friars. As the demand for religious images became more immediate, woodcarving skills developed and the relleves became ornately carved with colors and gilt.

EPILOGUE. There are those that say that the golden chasuble of San Ildenfonso is just a legend akin to the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Some say that relic is kept in a Holy Chest along with a bloodstained piece of cloth believed to had came in contact with Jesus after the Crucifixion.

True or fiction, the message of this legend is clear. The Heaven never forgets to say thank you.

23 January 2016
Feast of San Ildefonso de Toledo

Published in: on January 23, 2016 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Pasinaya Festival

Pasinaya Festival

FESTIVAL DAY. The mesmerizing dance of the Maranao just ended with a crash of a gong when performers of the Jota Batangueña began clicking their castanets and the dancers makes a graceful entrance to the improvised stage on the drop-off ramp of the CCP Main Theater. At the parking lot, the Philippine Madrigal Singers serenade the crowd competing with a marching band performing on a street-side while a post-Modernist artist greets visitors at the CCP bookstore. At the old Senate Hall, a children’s choir performs a Visayan folk song. In Intramuros, actress Mae Paner makes bubbles while tour guide Ivan Dy coaches children in playing traditional Chinese games.

All of these simultaneously happening at Intramuros, Luneta, the National Museum Complex and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in celebration of the Pasinaya Festival.

Cultural Center of the Philippines Pasinaya


PASINAYA. At the start of the year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines gives a sampler of Filipino dance, music, theater, film, and visual arts by hosting the Pasinaya FestivalThis one-day event draws crowds of different artistic interests and it is held in different venues along Roxas Boulevard and around Manila. 

It’s good to start at the CCP Complex where spectators can avail of an audience pass to all of the participating institutions for a minimal fee. We avoided the long lines at main theater and Tanghalang Batute so that we could catch as many happenings as possible on that day.



FREE ARTWORK FROM THE PRINTMAKERS. At the second floor of the CCP Main Theater, the Philippine Association of Printmakers (PAP) led by Benjie Torrado Cabrera demonstrates basic printmaking. The art of printmaking involves the process of transferring an image from a plate onto paper.

At the PAP kiosk, creativity isn’t restricted to the artists. Spectators line up to experience pulling out paper from a block of wood carved with an image and take home a free artwork from the Printmakers.

Jamie de Guzman CCP

Jamie de Guzman at the CCP

JAIME DE GUZMAN. During the festival, prices of publications by CCP were sold at a discount. We got the coffee table book Tuklas Sining from the CCP bookstore and asked post-modernist artist Jaime de Guzman to sign the page where his celebrated work, Gomburza is printed.

A recipient of the Thirteen Artists Award, de Guzman’s body of works inspires generations to reflect on our social realities. His distorted human forms and powerful strokes representing inequality and unrest as seen in his works during 1970s are as timeless and relevant in our current political scenarios.



FOLK ART ON WHEELS. By lunch time, CCP is already crowded with spectators. We left CCP via the colorful jeepneys that transports passengers to other festival venues.

The Philippine jeepney has been traditionally known as a mobile art piece. Its loud and festive colors, chrome embellishments, plastic trimmings and chrochet curtain that hang along the windshield and a rosary dangling from the rear view mirror makes it an epitome of folk art on wheels.

Pasinaya Old Senate

Pasinaya National Art Gallery

NATIONAL MUSEUM. The folk art on wheels ferried us to the National Museum. After touring the different galleries, we were led to the old Senate hall where a children’s choir performed a set of Visayan folk songs.

Built in 1916, the imposing National Museum building was based from the plan of Daniel Burnham. Its original Neoclassical architectural is evocative of the Greek Parthenon which coincides with the American branding statement that the ideal government is founded on democracy. For several years the Philippine Senate held its sessions on the second floor hall until 1996 when the senate offices vacated the building.



INTRAMUROS OF MEMORY. From the National Museum, we walked to Intramuros where a portion of General Luna Street was closed down to traffic. In Barrio San Luis, music is provided by a banduria ensemble. Makeshift stalls sell trinkets and handicrafts. Spectators are invited to create handicrafts and participate in the building of an art installation in the middle of the street.

This festive Intramuros recalls the pre-War feria on the feast days of San Nicolas and Sta. Lucia in front of the Recolletos Chruch, the June 13 procession of San Antonio de Padua at the San Francisco Church, the feast of the Sacred Heart at the Jesuit Church of San Ignacio and the Fiesta of La Naval de Manila at Sto. Domingo Church and the traffic jams in front of the Capuchin Church because of the pilgrims of the Our Lady of Lourdes. All the churches mentioned are long gone and can only be seen in old photos like the ones in the book Intramuros of Memory.

Pasinaya Bipoa

Te tit Pasinaya

BAHAY TSINOY. The audience pass allowed entrance to various museums. At Bahay Tsinoy, we explored the the different galleries exhibiting Filipino-Chinese heritage and artifacts. Ivan Dy of Old Manila Walks introduced the guests to traditional Chinese games Bipao and Tet-it at the museum lobby.

EPILOGUE. The annual staging of the Pasinaya Festival ushers the year with appreciation for art across different mediums of expression. Whether through dance, music, theater, film, and visual arts, Pasinaya leads the spectators into discovering the kind of art that goes straight into their heart.

Published in: on January 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Intramuros Grand Marian Procession

Grand Marian Procession

FIESTA OFICIAL. There are two dates in December that were assigned by the Catholic Church as holy days of obligation, one is the birthday of Jesus on the 25th and the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion on the 8th. I remember back in grade school when the 8th of December was declared as fiesta oficial and our teacher would remind students to go to mass on that day.

In the Spanish colonial days, everyone attended the solemn
Te Deum at the Cathedral in Intramuros. In the evening, the Walled City was illuminated by candles from carrozas carrying images of the Blessed Mother and from every window hung the blue and white colors of the Virgin.



GRAND MARIAN PROCESSION. The tradition continues to this day in Intramuros as the Grand Marian Procession that is usually held on the Sunday closest to December 8. Venerated images of the Blessed Virgin from Piat to Zamboanga are brought out from the church’s altar and from private homes to Intramuros for this annual congress of magnificent carrozas and images of the Virgin Mary dressed in extravagant embroidery studded with gold thread and gemstones and ostentatiously accessorized with gold and silver fittings.

The procession is the longest and most flamboyant religious parade of different representations of the Mother of God in country. Images are accompanied by joyful marching bands and colorful folk dancers complete with fiesta props.

Grand Marian Procession Consolacion y Correa

Grand Marian Procession Piat

MARY LAND. The Marian cult in the Philippines began with the finding of the image of the Lady on top of a pandan bush. According to the legend, when Magellan arrived in Cebu, he presented to the wife of Rajah Humabon the images of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. The converted queen chose to keep the Child Jesus. The image had become the venerated image known as the Sto. Niño de Cebu. In 1571, the a member of the Legaspi Expedition found the image of the Virgin Mary enshrined on a screw pine on a beach in the village of Lagyo. It is believe that this is the same image that Magellan presented to the queen years earlier. This image is enshrined in Ermita Church as the Nuestra Señora de Guia.

From the Nuestra Señora de Guia, a Marian cult multiplied in different parts of the country as the Nuestra Señora de la: Inmaculada Concepcion, Consolacion y Correa, Paz y Buen Viaje, Santo Rosario, Medalla Milagrosa, Dolores de Turumba, Soledad de Porta Vaga, Piat, Pronto Socorro, Perpetuo Socorro, Buensuceso, Regla, Desamparados, Divina Pastora, Porteria, Carmen, O (La O of Pangil), los Remedios, Pilar, Peñafrancia, Manaoag, Casaysay, Salambao, Aranzazu, Montserrat, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Estrella, Angeles, Gracia, Rosa, Candelaria, Caridad and so on.

Grand Marian Procession Aetas

Grand Marian Procession Ina Poon Bato

OUR LADY OF THE AETAS. In Zambales, there is legend about the image of the Blessed Mother that antedates the arrival of the Spaniards. According to the legend, an Aeta chieftain named Djagig was resting after an unsuccessful hunt when he heard a woman’s voice calling Djagig take me home. Turning around, he found an image of a woman perched on a rock. The chieftain took it home but his disappointed wife threw it into the fire but the image did not burn. Djagig announced the the miracle to his tribe. When the first Recollect friars came to Zambales in 1607, they went to the Aeta village to see the famous wooden icon. The friars were surprised upon seeing the image of the Blessed Mother that came before them.

The image was brought to the parish church. It stayed there until the Philippine Revolution when a group of katipuneros killed the parish priest Fray Julian Gimenez and brought the image to an Aglipay Church. In 1976, a Columbian priest commissioned famous santorero Maximo Vicente to sculpt a replica of the
Ina Poon Bato.

Grand Marian Procession Intramuros


EPILOGUE. As we have seen in the Intramuros Grand Marian Procession, there are hundreds of icons of the Blessed Mother all over the country that are enshrined and venerated in churches and are in custody of families and private individuals. Each are surrounded with legends and stories of miracles like Pakil’s Turumba, Quezon City’s Santo Rosario de La Naval, San Mateo’s Virgen de Aranzazu, Antipolo’s Virgen dela Paz y Buenviaje and so much more.

But more than the many ways we call the Blessed Mother and the several ways we celebrate her fiesta, it would seem of the several wishes and pleas from the people described as pueblo amante de Maria many have been granted in the mysterious workings of prayer to the first follower of Jesus Christ.

8 December 2015
Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion

Published in: on December 8, 2015 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  



AN EMPTY TOMB. I recall our family’s annual sojourn to Heart of Mary Villa in Malabon to visit the Sisters of Good Shepherd and the orphanage on mid-December. Once there, my parents would unload huge boxes of goodies from the van and spend the entire day talking with the nuns while me and my sister would run around the convent’s garden. By evening, my father would bring us to Ever Emporium in Caloocan to watch mechanical puppets present a colorful and animated Christmas musical up on the mall’s façade.

I have fun memories of our family sitting on Bermuda grass that covers the park across the mall, behind an empty tomb to Andres Bonifacio popularly called the Monumento.

Monumento Caloocan

ADVENTURE AT TROPICAL HUT. The monument stands on a rotunda at the northern end of EDSA. I remember as a child that the monument was surrounded by huge hand-painted movie billboards that we no longer see today. On our recent visit, the old-fashioned movie billboards were replaced by tarpaulin endorsing the latest products.

Our adventure to see the Monumento up close began at a nearby fast food joint. To cross from Rizal Avenue to the park was a struggle because of the non-stop flow of vehicles around the rotunda. A kind MMDA officer assisted us to cross the street and then, from a makeshift tent the park’s caretaker swung open the small gate for us.

Monumento inauguration

Monumento Bonifacio

TOLENTINO’S PHILOSOPHY. Inaugurated on November 30, 1933, the Monumento demonstrates Guillermo Tolentino’s philosophy that a monument must be factual and symbolical.

Illustrating his philosophy, the artist placed the sculpture on an octagonal base whose eight sides represent the eight Philippine provinces that first rose to revolt against Spain in the Revolution of 1896. The base ascends three steps suggesting the three centuries of Spanish rule.

Monumento sculpture

Monumento Andres Bonifacio

FILIPINO TEMPER. Historian Ambeth Ocampo explains that the reflecting pool on opposite sides of the monument serves as a reminder of the Filipino temper according to Jose Rizal in El Filibusterismo as mild and can be drunk but it dilutes wine and beer, extinguishes fire; heated it becomes steam, and ruffed it is the ocean; once it destroyed mankind and made the earth tremble to its foundation.

The 45-foot granite obelisk is crowned by a figure of the Winged Victory that could be a contribution of Italian sculptor Francesco Monti. The main sculpture shows 23 figures cast in bronze with a defiant Andres Bonifacio as central figure wearing a barong tagalog while holding a gun and a sangbartolome. Behind him is Emilio Jacinto. They are surrounded by figures that narrate episodes of the Revolution and allegorical characters that expresses nationalistic fervor in the struggle for freedom from colonial rule.

Monumento Tolentino sculpture

Monumento Gomburza

ALLEGORICAL CHARACTERS. Moving to one side are characters from the novel Noli Me Tangere represented by Pilosopong Tasyo holding on one hand a lifeless Sisa while his other hand is stretching out a clench fist. Next to it is a Katipunan initiation rite where katipuneros sign their oaths of allegiance in blood. There is a commemorative plaque with words written in Katipunan alphabet.

Opposite of the main group are martyred priest Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora showing one lifeless, another in waiting and one in the throes of death. Collectively known as GOMBURZA, the execution of the three priests ignited Asia’s first revolution against colonial rule.

Monumento Bonifacio Day

EPILOGUE. Andres Bonifacio was born on the feast day of San Andres Apostol. Traditionally, birthdays of saints and local heroes are not declared as holiday. Usually it is their death anniversary that is celebrated as in the case of Jose Rizal on December 30 and Ninoy Aquino on August 21. Andres Bonifacio is an exception.

Why do we celebrate Bonifacio’s birthday instead of the day he gave his life for his country? Until Bonifacio’s bones are unearthed, the Monumento remains an empty tomb.

30 November 2015
Feast of San Andres Apostol
Andres Bonifacio Day

Published in: on November 30, 2015 at 3:46 am  Comments (1)  

Carina Guevara-Galang

*This article was first featured in Issue 9 of Cake & Whiskey Magazine. Words by Glenn Martinez and photos by Jesse Abad.

Carina Guevarra-Galang

ART 19B. It was rush hour on a humid, tropical evening in urban Quezon City. Inside Art19B, an art gallery set at the heart of Cubao’s bohemian district, the air was cool. Bentwood chairs in one corner reminded me of vacations spent on the beach and the white brick walls with colorful drawings took me back to childhood. Gallery owner Carina Guevara-Galang shared the stories of the pieces in her collection with me, each one reflective of our Philippine life and culture.

One of my biggest idols in life was my lola Carmen Guevara, Carina reminisced. We would go to [art] exhibits and I would accompany her, and we would meet the most fascinating characters. She had a home which even then at a young age I already know was very special. I loved going there and being surrounded by beautiful things that obviously meant so much to her, not because they were expensive but because they’re part and parcel of who she was.

Carina Guevarra-Galang interview

Carina Guevarra in Studio

ON COLLECTING ‘BEAUTIFUL THINGS.’ With Carina’s early exposure to art, mingled with her own artistic talents at a young age, her own house eventually filled with paintings from floor to ceiling.

But collecting ‘beautiful things’ was not cheap: I need to unload some so I could afford the hobby, which gets expensive. Carina said. Friends would buy off me, and I would use the money to buy even more. So it really made sense to eventually open a gallery.

Carina Guevarra Norma Belleza

Carina Guevarra and Vic Galang

A COMMITMENT BIGGER THAN MARRIAGE. Carina is a chef by profession. She studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and came home to the Philippines to open several restaurants. Nowadays, her most refreshing times away from the restaurants, that Carina calls a commitment bigger than marriage, is when she’s on a trip to scout for art throughout Filipino villages.

When we are out [on our trips], the monotony of city living is broken. Manila’s traffic and crime can be very heavy and negative so when, in the middle of shanties, I meet an artist and amidst the poverty there is this incredible talent, it’s like a beacon of light. I love meeting them, learning of their process and quirks. The pieces become personal.

Carina Guevarra Noel Mahilum

Carina Guevarra Philip Badon

HISTORIANS OF THE PHILIPPINES. From conception, art is charged with emotion and memory, which is layered by the emotions and memories brought to the piece by a viewer. They are creative pieces borne out from the artist’s dreams and frustrations. And for Carina, Art 19B gives voice to those artists in her own backyard.

They are our voice, they are our historians, They will tell our story long after we are gone and they will tell the truth. Artists visualize our dreams, our fears, our terrors, our aspirations. They make physical what we cannot explain, what we cannot understand. They plant those seeds.

Carina Guevarra-Galang gallery

EPILOGUE. For those like me, who walk through the doors of Art 19B, Carina shares her passion not only for art, but for people.

I am a gallery owner but you have no idea how many times I’ve played therapist to my clients and artists. I guess the vibe of the place relaxes them enough to tell me very personal things about their live. So once we started talking, their lives mix with the art, and out conversation can last until 3 am.

-18 October 2015
Feast day of St. Luke, Patron saint of painters

Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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