As National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation in Barangay Guibang of Gamu town in Isabela prepares for the arrival of pilgrims who will attend the novena Masses and fiesta on July 2, stories of miracles have come to me from residents there.
Felisa Patriarca Hanaban, 78, who sells candles and rosaries, told me that when she was 30, she suffered severe stomach pain. She said she knelt before the altar and asked Our Lady of Guibang for help.
She said she saw the Virgin Mary in a dream walk down from the altar and tell her that when she start smelling the fragrance of roses, the pain would stop. And so it was that when Nana Felisa was standing at the door trying to sell candles, she suddenly felt a wind passing by and smelled roses. The pain disappeared, and she continues to sell candles and rosaries. If you visit the shrine, you will recognize her.
The miracle of a job
Prof. Elsa Cadiente brought Agnes Panao Nicolas to us. Agnes, 57, whose parents, Severina Panao Nicolas (known as Baket Binay) and Vicente Palomares Nicolas, were the first caretakers of Our Lady of Guibang. She told us that Our Lady helped her get her first job. Agnes was a new graduate then of Bachelor of Agriculture in what is now the Isabela State University. She approached the late Bishop Miguel Purugganan to ask for help to get a job. Purugganan introduced her to Dr. Luis Evangelista, the chair of the Philippine Coconut Authority. She got the job and worked at the Philcoa for several years. Today, she lives in a house near the shrine.
Agnes Nicolas remembers how her parents brought her and her siblings to Guibang on Jan. 5, 1955. They lived near the small chapel of the Virgin Mary, then made of galvanized iron and facing south. By the time I saw the church in 1993, when the late Msgr. Johnny Corpuz brought me to Guibang, the church looked as it does now, but already facing east. The main door now faces the highway.
In January 1986, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines elevated the church of Our Lady of Guibang to a national shrine. Before that, in May 1973, Our Lady of Guibang was canonically crowned by Papal Nuncio Carmine Rocco.
Rev. Fr. Francisco “Paco” Albano, parish priest, will lead the nine-day novena Masses, June 23-July 1, culminating in the fiesta on July 2. Novena Masses are at 5 p.m. Bishop of Ilagan Joseph Nacua, OFM-Cap, will officiate the Concelebrated Mass on July 2, 8 a.m., with the Power Voice as choir.
Fiesta Masses on July 2 will be every hour starting 5 a.m. Stylist and artist Ali Rich Garcia will decorate the altar. Helping get white orchids, green foliage and bamboo are Zeny Zicherelli and Aurora Zipangan Lazo.
Milagros Dancel, a member of a Marian group in the parish, remembers offering novena Masses to Our Lady when her daughter Mylah Marie Dancel was reviewing for the dental board exams. Her daughter later ranked sixth in the exams.
Those who need estampita prayers to Our Lady of Guibang can write to me c/o the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City. Please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.
How to go to Guibang
Ali Garcia and I took the Cebu Pacific flight from Cauayan. Then we were driven to Gamu town where Guibang is. The airline flies to Cauayan at 9:20 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pilgrims can take buses like Florida, Victory or Baliwag and travel eight hours to Gamu. Driving up in cars can take seven hours. For accommodations, you can reserve at Zicherelli Hotel on the highway. Hotel rates are reasonable. Call (078) 6222340.
By the way, St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Gamu marks its ninth year on May 12. Fr. Ian Mamauag, the parochial vicar, says a seminar on the new Roman Missal will be held. The public is invited. Bishop Joseph Nacua will celebrate Mass at 4 p.m.
The province of Isabela will hold its 156th Isabela Day on May 10 and 11. Gov. Bojie Dy and Vice Gov. Rodito Albano will lead the celebration that begins with a Mass on May 10, 8 a.m. Fr. Carlito Sarte, the new vicar general, is main celebrant.
Our Lady of Biglang Awa fiesta
This year’s fiesta of Our Lady of Biglang Awa on May 10 in Boac, Marinduque, will mark the 54th year of the canonical coronation of Our Lady, which took placed on May 10, 1958, and the 34th anniversary of the canonical erection of the Diocese of Boac on May 10, 1978.
Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista will officiate the Concelebrated Mass on May 10, 9 a.m., at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Rene Sapungan, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Biglang Awa, will celebrate Mass at the Shrine, 4 p.m. Hermana Mayor 2012 is Josephine Peñafiel Cunanan.
Our Lady of the Abandoned fiesta
Manila Archbishop Chito Tagle will officiate the Concelebrated Mass honoring Our Lady of the Abandoned on May 12, 9:30 a.m. Concelebrants are Fr. Baltazar Obico, OFM, minister general; Fr. Andrew Litigio, OFM, parish priest; and OFM friars and guest priests from the Vicariate of the Holy Family.
Readers asked for the fastest way to help the church of Fr. Rey Floresca in Dinagat Island, Surigao. Please deposit your donations to the parish account with the PNB Surigao Branch. Savings account number 452-001300034, in the name of Reynaldo B. Floresca and Elena E. Baptisma. Thanks for your kindness. May St. Vicente Ferrer intercede for your prayers.
Flores de Mayo at 33
The Congregacion del Santissimo Nombre del Niño Jesus will hold its 33rd Flores de Mayo today, 5 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia, in cooperation with the City of Pasay, Unilever and SM Mall of Asia.
In Las Piñas, devotees will flock to the Church of St. Joseph to mark the feast of “Tata Husep,” or St. Joseph, who is believed to be miraculous.