The Marian devotee in me
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda () - June 24, 2005 - 12:00am
I have been asked many times why I built a resthouse in Lipa City. Until this very moment, I have no clear answer. But I have a story about Lipa, my modest resthouse, my mother, and the Mt. Carmel Church.

In the early ‘90s, I acquired at bargain price a small piece of land located in one of the barrios of Lipa from a friend who had no use for it anymore. I bought it without even seeing it. It was an instinctive decision.

I am a probinsiyano from head to toe while warts and blackheads that plague my face are Manila-bred.

Samar, where I come from, is quite far from Manila. With an exciting, tense, punishing, glorious work and lifestyle, your bones and sanity can break and snap every 30 seconds. You would need to breathe fresh air and smell the flowers every so often – so you can re-charge, rejuvenate and sashay again your way through the monstrous and noisy city. This can be my "probinsya," I told myself.

And slowly I built a small house with a lot of help from my partner Bong Quintana. It was going to be our sanctuary with a lot of plants and flowers. I built my dream tree house and hanging bridge. Since I work on Sundays, Mondays must be spent in Lipa. Of course, it is a rule that I break more often than I wink. Our little house and garden in Lipa became a most precious hideaway far from the screaming crowd and it is wonderfully cool during most times of the year.

In 1991, Nanay got sick. It was a terrible time. Even after she was hospitalized for months at the UST Hospital. I could not allow her to go home to Borongan, Eastern Samar as she would be very far from me. She expressed her sentiments about staying in Manila. She said she was not comfortable in the big city.

It was then that Lipa came to mind. This was when it became clear why our little house was built in Lipa. I brought Nanay there to recuperate. At the same time, she was one-and-a-half hour drive away from Bong and me.

We have a grotto of the Mediatrix in our place and we have a prayer "kubo" for Nanay. My two precious Sto. Niños are also in Lipa. I run to them in times of joy and despair.

So every time I’d visit Nanay in Lipa during this time, we’d go to Mt. Carmel Church where the shower of roses happened decades ago. There, we would pray and pray and pray.

After a few months, Nanay was fully recovered. She was fully healed of acute Vitamin B12 deficiency which could have led to something really worse had it not been arrested by prayers and UST’s brilliant doctors.

At this time, I was told the Catholic Church has not officially acknowledged the Marian apparition at the Church of Mt. Carmel.

I didn’t care. I believe in the apparition. I was and still am a devotee. Nanay and I continue to visit the Church to this day.

Just the other week, I was inside the Mt. Carmel in Lipa and a friendly Carmelite nun handed me a letter by the Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles. I am printing parts of the letter here:

"When I was being considered to become Archbishop of Lipa. I knew that my being SERVUS, ANCILLAE FILIUS (I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid, Wisdom 9:5; Ps 116:16), would be both an asset and a liability. Being an avowed devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mother, I would shepherd a deeply Marian Archdiocese – the same Archdiocese which was the site of a supposed apparition of Our Lady in the late ’40s and the early ’50s, which has caused long-term pain to so many and yet faithfully endured without anyone in the least being alienated from the Holy Mother Church."

Lately, there has been another rumored Marian apparition in the Western part of the Archdiocese. Some spread the word that the present Archbishop of Lipa shows inclination to approve of the so-called apparitions. Most lay people would exert friendly pressure on the Archbishop – out of his attachment to the Blessed Mother – to declare the apparitions authentic. Others choose not to join organized prayer assemblies with Mary under the title Mediatrix of All Grace, without any word from the Archbishop of Lipa. This is the reason why Archbishop Arguelles issued the following declarations.

1. I never doubted the Lipa apparitions that took place in the early years of my childhood. As I grew up later as a seminarian, young priest and then bishop, even now as archbishop, I would always find solace, peace and strength in spending time praying before the image of Our Lady in the Carmel of Lipa...

2. Many devotees come to Carmel and other places in the Archdiocese of Lipa. Bishops and priests are asked to join in their devotions and prayer. I get invited, too. I make myself available especially during the First Saturday Penitential Procession and Eucharist. I see no problem in joining or even initiating prayer assemblies meant for specific intentions like peace in our land and in the whole world. Most of all, I ask the faithful to pray for the sanctity of all bishops and priests...

3. Some people promote the devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace. I have no objection to this beautiful Marian title as well as the image and devotion that go with it. I encourage these devotees and they have my blessing. I even join organized prayers for the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of all priests, and the accomplishment of this mission of the Philippines to be the launching pad of the evangelization of Asia. I am convinced, like many of these Marian followers, that our country is chosen by God, particularly loved by Mary, because Christ trusts that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will bring about the "new springtime of faith" in other nations and will become a "great evangelization factor in the "Third Millennium."

Allow me therefore to tell all my brothers in the episcopate, all priests and religious, all the faithful that I do strongly encourage anyone who draw others to a Marian attachments to Jesus. I support any initiative to strengthen the Church by a renewal of our faith and prayer with Mary all for Jesus!


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