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Rizal and the Virgin of Antipolo

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¡Salve Rosa pura
Reina de la mar!
¡Salve! Blanca Estrella,
Fiel Iris de Paz …
Antipolo,
Por tí sólo
Fama y renombre tendrá.
De los males,
Los mortales
Tu imágen nos librará;
Tu cariño,
Al fiel niño
Le guarda siempre del mal;
Noche y día,
Tu le guías
En la senda terrenal.
—José Rizal (Junto al Pásig)—

Here’s a photo that I salvaged from oblivion. We’re posing for posterity in front of the historical shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (circa 2008).

Standing from left to right: Arnaldo Arnáiz, Michiko Hasegawa, Señor Guillermo Gómez, and a bald version of myself. Michiko is Señor Gómez’s Spanish-speaking Japanese flamenco dancer.

This historical shrine houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as Our Lady (or Virgin) of Antipolo. Many people who are about to embark on a long journey or travel, especially those who will go abroad, flock here to seek guidance from Our Lord’s dear Mother.

Rizal’s mom was a devotee of this church. While carrying Rizal in her womb, she fervently prayed here that she may have a safe delivery. Years later, when Rizal grew up as a young boy fit enough to travel, he went here with his dad (on 6 June 1868) to fulfill his mother’s panatà or vow made years before: to take Rizal to the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her son survive the difficulty of delivery. Rizal’s visit here was a thanksgiving pilgrimage of sort.

Rizal’s attachment to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage carried over to his early masterpiece, the one-act play Junto al Pásig (Along the Pásig). In this piece, Our Lady of Antipolo was mentioned twice. She was also mentioned in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, but not exactly in a pious light (for Rizal was already a Freemason when he wrote his first novel):

Contrastando con estos terrenales preparativos están los abigarrados cuadros de las paredes, representando asuntos religiosos como El Purgatorio, El Infierno, El Juicio final, La Muerte del Justo, La del Pecador, y en el fondo, aprisionado en un espléndido y elegante marco estilo del Renacimiento que Arévalo rabía tallado, un curioso lienzo de grandes dimensioness en que se ven dos viejas… La inscripción dice: Nra. Sra. de la Paz y Buenviaje que se venera en Antipolo, bajo el aspecto de una mendiga visita en su enfermedad á la piadosa y célebre capitana Inés.

Also, during his stay in Biñán, La Laguna, Rizal used to pray at a chapel which was also dedicated to Our Lady Of Peace and Good Voyage.

Since Junto al Pásig is mentioned here, let me comment on something: whenever we talk about Rizal’s literary skills, his two novels immediately come to mind. But these two are almost far from being literary. They are, to put it frankly, but a part of the propaganda fuel of hatred against the Catholic Church, particularly against the friars in the Philippines. Many citations in these novels are even slanderous at worst. To an honest writer and literary critic, Rizal shone at his brightest during the days when he wrote only poetry and plays, when he was not motivated by the propaganda machine, when all his writings were motivated with nothing but religious love as well as the passion for the arts.

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.

I wish we could do another trip like this again.

Click here for more information about Ciudad de Antipolo.

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