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Saint Rose of The Lagoon (Santa Rosa, La Laguna)

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Much of La Laguna’s towns were Franciscan frontier. But among a handful of its picturesque towns, the now bustling City of Santa Rosa earns the distinction of being a Dominican haven. The hardy Order of Preachers gave it the distinguished name of Santa Rosa, named after that young and beautiful beata from Lima, Perú, Isabel Flores de Oliva (some sources say Isabel de Herrera).

Santa Rosa de Lima por Claudio Coello.

Born on 20 April 1586, her name was changed to Rosa a decade later, owing to a claim that her face miraculously transformed into a rose when she was still a child. Later on, she modeled her life to that of St. Catherine of Siena. And as a testament of her linkage to everything holy, Rosa was confirmed by another blessed hispanic: Turibius of Mongrovejo, the Archbishop of Lima.

Despite being one of the most beautiful women of her time, Rosa was often disturbed by that fact. Surprisingly, she treated her beauty to be a distraction and a magnet for temptation especially since at an early age, she had already decided to give her life only to Christ Jesus. To remedy it, she disfigured her face with pepper and lye! Like other mystics and beatas, she also practised corporal mortification and fasting, focusing her mind to prayer.

It is said that beauty invites temptations, and Rosa was no exception to it. As a woman of exceptional beauty, she did many strange things to ward of temptation — aside from rubbing her face with pepper and lye, she cut off her long hair, did manual labor to make her delicate hands rough, wore coarse clothing, etc. And to finally defeat the temptation to get married, she joined the Third Order of Saint Dominic, thus taking a vow of perpetual virginity.

After a brief life of holiness, the Lord gave her eternal rest on 24 August 1617. Fifty years later, on 15 April 1667, she was beatified by Pope Clement IX and was finally canonized on 12 April 1671 by Pope Clement X. Rose became the first Catholic in the Americas to be declared a saint.

A statue of St. Rose of Lima fronting the parish church of Santa Rosa City, La Laguna province.

The Dominican missionaries who arrived and preached in Barrio Bucol of Tabuco (later to be known as Cabuyao), La Laguna brought with them the Peruvian saint’s memory and legacy. And when the said barrio separated from Tabuco some time in the late 1600s, it was renamed after Saint Rose of Lima. But the municipality itself was formally founded on 15 January 1792.

Today, Santa Rosa is a bustling first-class city, proud of bearing the nickname “The Investment Capital of South Luzón” due to its many multinational companies and industrial estates, popular malls, as well as high-end residential communities. It is also the home of the world-class Enchanted Kingdom, a 17-hectare theme park.

Truly, this once picturesque Hispanic town –once tinged with pastoral scenes of fresh farmlands, cool forested areas, and a crystal-clear Laguna de Bay– has gone a long way. Sadly, the “curse” of cityhood which sprang forth from nearby Metro Manila (air pollution, congestion, greed and criminality, etc.) has crept up. Nevertheless, Santa Rosa still has retained vestiges of its former beauty through its remaining Antillean houses which still stand around the handsome old church of Santa Rosa de Lima.

Here are the pictures which I took of Santa Rosa’s oldest parts last Easter Sunday (04/04/2010) with my daughter Krystal.

The Santa Rosa Arch.

Iglesia de Santa Rosa de Lima.

Gusaling Museo.

Santa Rosa de Lima Parish Church, since 1792.

A jampacked Easter Sunday mass.

An image of St. Rose (holding an infant Jesus) of Lima, Perú. The town (now a city) of Santa Rosa was named after her.

Paintings of apostles at the ceiling of the church's west transept.

The handsome retablo.

Paintings of the four gospel (New Testament) chroniclers underneath the cupola.

Young choir singers behind Krystal (by the east transept).

Gravestones in Spanish. Gravestones are a usual sight inside old Philippine churches. They are installed inside the sidewalls in honor of a church's patron/donor.

At the choirloft. Many choirlofts today are no longer used for what they are supposed to be.

Inside the churchtower. I was hoping that perhaps renowned metallurgist Hilarión Sunico, who lived during the Spanish times, cast those bells. Krystal and I found out that he actually did, and that they are still in use after all these years!!!

Sunico's bell overlooking the town and the lake yonder.

More or less 75% of church bells inside old Philippine churches were cast in Sunico's home in Calle Jaboneros, San Nicolás, Manila.

Unafraid of heights!

The old municipio, now a museum.

Casa Zavalla.

Casa Zavalla.

Casa Tiongco.

Casa Perla.

Another Zavalla house.

Pahiñgá muna. =) But hey, do you see another bahay na bató casualty in the background? Adding insult to injury, campaign posters were posted on the exterior walls. Talk about double murder! Anyway, I think those Langháp Saráp peeps should pay me for this photo. Seriously!

And yes, UnionBank should pay me too, LOL!!!

But seriously, this UnionBank branch should be commended for preserving this bahay na bató. Good job, folks!

Casa Gonzales. This was the home of Basilio Gonzales, a local Katipunan leader who successfully invaded the townhall in 29 May 1898, eventually becoming the leader of the town until the American invaders arrived. What goes around comes around.

What a travesty. But that carving over the gate...

...what does it mean? Cornucopia?

That electrical post is an eyesore. So much for city planning.

An old house with another queer symbol on top of it.

SM City Santa Rosa.

Here’s hoping that the city government of Santa Rosa will also strongly focus on its town’s namesake (and how come it is not a sister city of Lima, Perú?). Although the city bears no roses nor beatas, its holy name still evokes its holy Dominican origins. Aside from Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Rose of Lima is also the Philippines’ patron saint. And may that fact bring around a multifaith sentiment among the people of Santa Rosa City.

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