Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alay lakad : this holy thursday in antipolo

Every merry month of May, the legendary town of Antipolo becomes a beehive of acitivity and vibrancy as thousands, from all walks of life, flock to this lovely place amongst the hills. To the lilting tune of native songs, people come to this town, primarily to pay homage to the miraculous Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and, secondly, to take a breather from the heat and dust of the summer months amidst Antipolo's refreshing mountain air, rippling streams and springs.

In Antipolo, one finds the religious shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, popularly known as the Virgin of Antipolo (Birhen ng Antipolo).

The origin of our Virgin of Antipolo dates back to Spanish era in the Philippines, when galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico were at its height

On March 25, 1626, Don Juan Niño de Tabora left the shores of Mexico aboard the galleon, El Almirante, to make its voyage to the Philippines. On this trip, Governor Tabora brought along the brown image of our Blessed Virgin Mother. For three months, the El Almirante safely braved the dangers of the stormy seas and a fire aboard the ship, arriving in the ports of Manila on July 18, 1626. Governor Tabora, realizing that the galleon's safe and successful journey was due to the presence of the image of the Blessed Virgin on board the ship, called for the pompous celebration of the image's arrival. Amidst pageantry and fireworks, the religious procession started from the Church of San Ignacio, the Jesuit Church in Intramuros, up to the Manila Catholic Cathedral, which became the first house of the Blessed Virgin's image. It is said that because of the events surrounding the safe voyage of the El Almirante, the Blessed Virgin was named Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje.

When Governor Tabora died in 1632, the Blessed Image was turned over to the care of the Jesuit fathers who were then constructing a church of Antipolo. Actually, a church was to be specifically built for the Blessed Virgin in the nearby barrio of Sta. Cruz. But attempts of the Jesuit fathers to move it from the Church of Antipolo were futile because somehow, as if in protest of leaving this town, the holy image was always found on the trunk of a tree called the Tipolo which grew in the original site of the old church. Because of these manifestations, a pedestal was curved out of the trunks of the said tree, and thus the Blessed Virgin became locally known as the Virgin of Antipolo.

During the occupation of the Japanese, the Blessed Image of our Lady of Antipolo was evacuated to the mountains of Angono, then at Santolan. The five hundred people who journeyed with the Brown Virgin all felt safe through their trips along steep mountain trails. For a while, the Blessed Virgin was housed in the Ocampo residence at Quiapo, previous to its transfer to the Quiapo Church where it stayed until October 15, 1945, when it was finally transferred to its original and permanent sanctuary at the Church of Antipolo. Every year, devotees commemorate this transfer, as they join the "Alay Lakad" from Quiapo Church to the Antipolo Cathedral starting at around 8:00 PM (30th of April) until dawn of the following day (1st of May).

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