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COCOY LAUREL, who played Juan Maningcad in Ramon Orlina?s production of Our Lady of Caysasay, will play Simon Vela in Ferdinand Dimadura?s ?Simon?s Way? on April 19, 7 p.m., at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World, Pasay City. The play, also directed by Dimadura, is about the history of the Peñafrancia devotion.

In a presscon at Tao Yuan Restaurant on Malvar Street, Malate, Cocoy said he agreed to the role after listening to the music. ?After all,? he said, ?it was give back time.?

Cocoy said that four years ago, he collapsed from extreme stomach pain. Doctors said he had perforated ulcers due to stress. At that time, he was doing both ?Man from La Mancha? and the ?Caysasay? play. His heart was also acting funny. So, he was moved to the ICU where he was incubated. He recalled that his mom (Celia Diaz Laurel) was with him for weeks and weeks.

?It was a miracle,? he said. ?And now that my mom is going to be operated on the knees again in May, I am hanging on to Heaven and asking God to make her well. Mother Mary, I know, will help.?

Believing in Mama Mary

Although she doesn?t know much about the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, actress- singer Cris Villonco, who plays Eliza, believes in the efficacious intercession of Mother Mary. ?I am a firm believer,? she said.

Alternating as Eliza, Jenine Desiderio is happy to be working with Cocoy Laurel again. They were next-door neighbors in London when they were doing ?Miss Saigon.? Eliza in the play is the love interest of Simon Vela.

The search

In 1434, Simon Vela, a Frenchman, was reportedly told in a dream by the Blessed Virgin Mary to look for her image inside a mountain cave in Spain. The Virgin Mary told him that her image would be venerated all over the world. For five years, Simon looked but couldn?t find her, until he heard two coal vendors discussing where the best coal could be found. One vendor said ?In Salamanca.? Simon followed the vendor until he stopped at the foot of the mountain called Peña de Francia.

Before he began to dig in the cave, Simon remembered the Virgin telling him to bring five persons to help him. All five men had ailments. When they finally found the image, all of them were healed.

?Ina,? patroness of Bicolandia

From 1710, the people of the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres (in Naga) have been devoted to Our Lady of Peñafrancia whom they affectionately call ?Ina.? The Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres and Our Lady of Fatima Association are now helping mount the production of ?Simon?s Way? for the benefit of the St. Vincent Parish in Sibugan, eight kilometers from the Poblacion of Sangay, Camarines Sur. Fr. Bong Alarte is first parish priest of the church.

Tenor Raymond Roldan, who?s assistant director, said that since they were kids, he and Ferdinand Dimadura have been devoted to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

Playdates

Prior to its Manila gala, ?Simon?s way? will have a special Holy Week promotion at the Block, SM City North Edsa on April 17, 4 p.m. Other dates: March 24 (7 p.m.); March 25 (1:30 and 7 p.m.); March 26 (1:30 and 6 p.m.) at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel Auditorium in Naga City; March 28 (7 p.m.) at University of North Eastern Philippines auditorium in Iriga City. The Legazpi City government and Aquinas University will sponsor a special show on May 14, 7 p.m. at the Legazpi Astrodome. For tickets, call 726-4422; or text Cora (0916-413-5108), Steve (0927-473-0145); or Jake (Resorts World Manila; 09l7-872-8730). Call 908-8890 (RWM Tour Counter).

Santa Cleofe

The feast day of Santa Cleofe (April 9) will be celebrated in a special way by the Arcilla family and the people of San Andres town in Catanduanes.

There will be a Thanksgiving Mass in the church due to good harvest. There have been no typhoons this year so there is so much palay, according to Teddy Arcilla who is the recamadero of Santa Cleofe.

There will be a padasal in Villa Arcilla where the saint is enthroned in the second floor facing the church across the plaza. She can be seen from the street, blessing all the people who pass by. The Arcilla clan headed by Capt. Leopoldo Arcilla, ?Orgullo Kan Bikol 20ll? awardee will gather on that day in thanksgiving.

Holy Land pilgrimage

To celebrate Easter, Fr. Benny de Guzman, SJ will bring pilgrims to the Holy Land on April 27. Then, on May 16 to 31, Fr. Benny will act as chaplain to a group of pilgrims visiting the Marian shrines in Europe.

From Manila to Lisbon, they will visit the Cathedral of St. Anthony de Padua, then proceed to Santarem where the first Eucharistic miracle took place. Then on to Fatima, Portugal, where Our Lady appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta on May 13, 1917 in Aljustrel to bring the Gospel to a world that was slipping away from it.

Our Lady said, ?Pray the rosary everyday and make sacrifices for sinners.?

The pilgrimage also includes Madrid, Avila, Zaragoza, where one can see Our Lady of the Pillar; Lourdes, where one can immerse in the healing waters; Paris, Liseux, Nevers, where one can see the uncorrupted body of St. Bernadette; San Giovanni Rotondo and Rome. Text SPG Travel House at 0939-653-9336 or call tel. 519-6044.

Visionary Nora Ilagan

For the past 17 years, Nora Ilagan claims to have been receiving messages from the Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ through inner locution at the Adoration Chapel in Magallanes Church.

Last Feb. 27 at 8:35 p.m., Mama Mary reportedly told the seer. ?All man-made calamities are happening. Are you aware? All that have been said a long time ago are here. Are you prepared? So many sudden deaths, so many unusual things. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Now, I bless you all.?

Last March 2, at 5:40 a.m., the Blessed Mother reportedly said, ?Go to Mass after Mass. Go often to confession to a priest. Do not waste time. Be always prepared.?

?Sounds of Lent?

Fr. Lawrence Paz, parish priest of Holy Family Parish in Parang, Marikina, will give a recollection on April 2, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Organized by the Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls, an anticipated Mass will be said at 5 p.m. Call 532-283l.