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SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO ON JULY 16, 1935, Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Philippines. Pope Pius XII, however, issued a Papal Bull on Sept. 12, 1942 declaring that the Immaculate Conception is the principal and universal patroness of the Philippines. At the main altar of the Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception in Intramuros is enshrined the Inmaculada Concepcion. This makes the Guadalupe secondary patroness.

The big icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe is enshrined in a side chapel of the Manila Cathedral on the right side. It was donated by Cimex Philippines in February 2003 through the efforts of Juris Umali-Soliman, then Cimex Corporate Communications director. She went to Cebu in April 2003 bringing the icon of the ?Guadalupe? to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

The church dedicated to the ?Guadalupe? in Barangay Jalavera, Gen. Trias in Cavite will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1935 Papal Bull on July 18, 11 a.m. with Imus Bishop Chito Tagle as main celebrant. Built by businessman Gene de los Reyes, the church is now a pilgrim site of devotees from all over the Philippines.

?Am I not your Mother??

Our Lady assured Juan Diego during her apparition on Dec. 9, 1531 not to worry about his uncle who was sick. She said to him (as she says also to us): ?Am I not here, who am your Mother?? This question has resounded through the centuries assuring us that Mary is indeed our Mother.

Pilgrimage to Guadalupe

I remember joining a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico on Oct. 19, 2005 which was organized by Adam?s Travel. To be able to look at the icon of the Virgin closely which was hung on a high wall, pilgrims had to ride an escalator. I remember saying my prayers very fast. But what impressed me most was seeing a small lame man kneeling by the escalator and raising his bunch of flowers to her whom he adored.

Pilgrims can avail of the offer being prepared by Adam?s Travel to leave on Oct. 13 for Mexico via Los Angeles. From Mexico City, the pilgrims will be brought to Cholula, Puebla, Cuernavaca, Taxco, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajato, and Guadalajara. The pilgrims will be led by Sr. Ephie Brazil of the Regina Rosarii Contemplative Center. Call 521-1651/38/98.

Be sure to have a US visa when you join.

Miracle of Rosa Mistica

As the feast day of Our Lady Rosa Mistica approaches (July 13), Marivic Perez told me about the miraculous healing Ammey Babiera Go experienced through the intercession of Our Lady and through the medical guidance of Dr. Teresa Valeros who propagates the devotion. Ammey, 49, contracted breast cancer in July 2005. She had bone metastasis in May 2009.

Ammey met Dr. Valeros in mid-January for consultation. She recalls: ?It was God?s way to heal me through Dr. Teresa. She prepared me for Barium enema colon X-ray test to determine my toxic accumulation level. After the test she immediately prepared me for nutritional immunology to boost my immune system and pro-active health care program using natural food supplement/food herbs. Our goal was for me to get well and be cancer-free. With Dr. Valeros? patience and diligence in teaching/counseling me in holistic wellness and lifestyle healing program, through the intercession of Mama Rosa Mistica, I am now in remission. Thank you very much to my greatest physician, Dr. Jesus!? Fiesta Mass honoring Mama Rosa Mistica is set July 13, 12 noon at the St. Martha Chapel in Harrison Plaza. Everyone is invited.

Prayer dance to St. James the Greater

The city of Dapitan is not only known for having been the place where our national hero Jose Rizal was exiled, but also for the dance Sinug to which devotees of St. James the Greater (patron of Dapitan) step to the beat of the drums whispering their prayers at the same time. This happens on July 24, bisperas of the feast day of the saint at noon when people wave twigs of plants in front of the saint who is mounted on a horse. The image is previously brought from the church to the town plaza.

Dalisay Empeynado Jao introduced me to the devotion to St. James the Greater when she invited me and Noel Hermogeno for the first time in 1996. Since then, I became devoted to the saint, even visiting him on pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Fiesta Mass

Apple Marie Agolong, chair of the tourism committee of the Sangguniang Panglungsod would like to remind Dapitanons residing in Metro Manila to go home for the fiesta Mass on July 25 at 10 a.m. Celebrant is Bishop Jose Manguiran. Gil Cagbabanua, who founded the Circulo de Dapitanons USA in 1999 in Chicago, will celebrate the fiesta in Chicago.

At a dinner hosted by Dalisay and Pat Jao for friends in Dapitan, I listened to their stories of the fiesta in their youth. Present were Delmo Laput, manager of the Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative (Zaneco), Uldarico Calasang, head of the Gen. Services Office (GSO) in Dapitan, Judge Amay Laput and Gil Cagbabanua.

25 years as a priest

Fr. Jojo Gonda, parish priest of the Parish and Shrine of St. Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, celebrated his silver anniversary as a priest and also his 51st birthday on June 19. Fr. Jojo was overwhelmed by the presence of Lipa Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles and four bishops, namely Bishop Ruben Profugo, Bishop Emeritus Emilio Marquez of Lucena, Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of Boac who was the homilist, and Bishop Salvador Quizon, retired auxiliary Bishop of Lipa. Close to 50 priests concelebrated in the Mass.

Fr. Jojo recalls: ?At least 5,000 guests came to celebrate with me, coming from some of the parishes where I used to serve during my 25 years of ministry. My siblings were there blessing me and loving me, and my nephews and nieces. I was humbled and at the same time deeply grateful to God for this blessing of 25 years.?

Bishop Rey delivered a fitting homily, quoting St. Paul: ?...No human being might boast before God. It is due to Him that we are in Christ Jesus...so that ?Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.? (1Cor. 1:29-31).