The Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I asked a Catholic friend about the so many titles bestowed upon the Virgin Mary, she told me that they are based on the location of her appearance, such as Guadalupe in Mexico, hence, “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. I believed her, then. However, when I heard the “Tower of David” (Tore in David) in the litanies being read by a group of religious women who offer prayers at the wake of a dead person asking intercession for mercy, I began to question the seriousness in the practice of “naming” the Virgin Mary. Wow!…even the tower of David can intercede?…for me it is sheer stupidity!


On her title, “Our Lady of Fatima”….who is the Catholic Church referring to as the “lady”? Fatima is mentioned in the Koran as the Virgin Mary… it is a Moslem name, not Christian, so indeed, who is  the lady?…is she another woman who acts as a maid of Fatima or Virgin Mary, as in “lady-in-waiting” of queens in their royal court?


On the title, “Our Lady of Medjugorie”, if the basis is the “place” of manifestation or appearance, the signs such as the “dancing sun” and the “appearance” of the image of a woman to the children took place in the sky and not on the ground. The children had to stare at the sky to supposedly “see” her. Why not then call the woman who appeared to the children and manifested her appearance with the “dancing sun”, as “Our Lady of the Sky” or “Our Lady of the Dancing Sun” to give it a universal touch and not a selfish ownership limited to where the children live?


Every time I go home to my hometown, I would pass by a small barangay that claims a certain “Nuestra Seἧora de la Regla” as its patroness as shown by a signboard with such title above the door of their small chapel. What I know of “regla” is the “monthly visit” of fertile women, or scientifically referred to as menstruation. Is the title then, got to do with the appeal of fertile women to the Virgin Mary’s intercession for them to have a comfortable monthly discharge of menstrual blood?. Why go to that extent when such occurrence is normal, if indeed, it is true? Is that not asking too much?


There are claims of people about “appearances” of the Virgin Mary on doors, leaves, petals, floor tiles, etc. How sure are these people that it is the “Virgin Mary”? Do they have her photo? It should be noted that the images of saints, Virgin Mary and even Jesus, that the Catholics adore are “interpretations” of painters based on what they “imagined” per instruction given them. They even use models, as in the case of San Pedro Calungsod whose face is based on that of a popular Filipino basketball player. The images even differ according to the various cultures of Catholics all over the world. For Chinese Catholics, their Virgin Mary sometimes looks very Chinese. For Filipinos, some of the images look very Filipina, even brown in color. The Mediterranean Catholics have their own flat version of the face. And, the Japanese Catholics have their own “Japanese Madonna”. I consider this as a deception to the highest degree.


In the case of San Pedro Calungsod, I have no qualms in the use of a model, but they should have used a living relative of the saint. There are plenty of them in Cebu….why use a popular PBA basketball player?….dahil pogi?….now, that is a big shitty question to the seriousness on the part of the Catholic church in propagating Catholicisim. The guy or priest or whoever should be made responsible for this stupidity. If he is a priest, he should be booted out of the Catholic church, for what he has done has brought enormous shame to the said Christian congregation.


If something is wrong somewhere, the concerned authority should rectify it for the sake of their followers, so that the latter will not come out as victims of a foolery or deception. The bad eggs in the Catholic Church including those who gained age but still maintain their stubbornness in supporting evil instead of what is good should be defrocked!

The San Pedro Calungsod Parish Church of Tacurong City

The San Pedro Calungsod Parish Church of Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos


My curiosity about the new San Pedro Calungsod parish was triggered by the information about it from Bogz Jamorabon last year. Then I came across the photo-posts of Ruoma “Amor” Maluyo Taganas in his facebook. The photos from exactly a year ago, as it was taken during December, too, showed kids waking up and preparing for the Misa de Gallo and their unguarded moments while resting and taking catnaps. For me, their recorded unguarded moments were manifestations of heartfelt sacrifice. They are the members of the Knights of the Altar of San Pedro Calungsod Parish.


To date, the San Pedro Calungsod parish church is yet, a structure of massive and imposing concrete circular wall within which is the worship area with an altar, several chairs and benches, and covered with rubberized tarpaulin. Though frugally initiated, the effort to put up the foundation can be considered monumental, as the parish has just been established only in October 23, 2014 to serve the faithful who live far from the city, and in barangays such as Montilla, Lachica, the Upper and Lower Katungal, Baras, New Passi, and New Isabela. The parish is politically within the jurisdiction of Barangay New Isabela.


Admirably, the church leader, Amor lives “on the other side” of the city, San Emmanuel which is part of the parish of Our Lady of the Holy Candle, and far from the San Pedro Calungsod. I learned that he patiently motors his way to the parish from his home using a “single” motorcycle. Sometimes, we cannot really tell when the call of devotion would come as it did to Amor and to answer such call, he might be scrimping on some personal needs to save for the fuel of his motorcycle.


The land on which the church stands has been donated by the Notre Dame Educational Association Foundation-Tacurong. The area covered by the parish is partly agricultural, being filled with pockets of African palm, corn, rice, plots of vegetables, as well as, residential, shown by newly-developed subdivisions sliced from lands that saw good old days as rice and corn fields. Not far from it is Tacurong’s famous wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds, the Baras Bird Sanctuary operated by Rey Malana with the financial assistance of the city government. A little farther still, is another tourist landmark of the city, the Vicenteaux International Resort in New Passi, operated by Roger Bernardo, a self-made barrio guy who, through dint of hard work and frugality was able to etch his name in the city’s political landmark and contributed a lot to its economic development.


The parish provides a “short cut” passage to Banga and Surallah, towns of South Cotabato. Surallah is the gateway to T’boli, a tribal community which is among the country’s touristic come-ons for culture enthusiasts. Providing the natural western boundary with Isulan, site of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol, is the Kapingkong River which many locals prefer to call Katungal River. It connects with the Rio Grande de Cotabato and used to teem with crocodiles, but today, only their cousins, the “bayawak” can be found along the banks dense with tall tropical grass and occasional trees. But they may not last for long because they are being hunted for food.


When I visited the parish church with only Amor aware of my arrival, I found volunteers decorating the Mass area for the Misa de Gallo with the bemoustached Fr. Diosdado A. Esguerra, DCC, himself, who was simply clad in t-shirt, denims and slippers. He was a picture of humility and whose fatherly affection to his volunteers was obvious. He melded with them well, as I even thought that he was not the parish priest, had not Amor told me. On the other hand, Amor exudes similar humility duplicated by his prudence, as he does not talk if not spoken to.


The parish is aptly named after the young Filipino saint, San Pedro Calungsod who only had a palm leaf with him to symbolize the coming of the Christian Faith to a Pacific island that he and other Catholic missionaries visited. The faithful of the new parish on the other hand, are one in singing the “Hallelujah” for the realization of their dream…to have a church not far from their home.


I am calling on balikbayan Tacurongnongs to include in their itinerary a visit to the San Pedro Calungsod Church, if they plan to visit T’boli, birdwatch at the Baras Bird Sanctuary and later proceed to the Vicenteaux International Resort in New Passi for a refreshing dip in the pools of spring water. A visit would give them an idea on what to sincerely offer to San Pedro Calungsod. The church is on the left side, after the traditionally called “Crossing Rajah Muda”, if one takes the “short cut” to Banga and Surallah.