Angels of Tayabas
- Maria Lourdes B. Abulencia () - November 9, 2002 - 12:00am
Have you ever seen the tall, handsome Archangel Michael come down to earth in his glorious might? Have you ever witnessed a monumental apparition of victory? Now you can meet the Prince of the Heavenly Host right in the church plaza of the four-century-old town of Tayabas.

The apparition of St. Michael has manifested at the foot of the majestic, mystical Mount Banahaw. This unprecedented religious outdoor mural in the province, if not in the country, measures nine meters high by 14 meters wide.

It is painted in acrylic washes and glazes of cobalt blue, carmine red, old rose and subdued gold. Its celestial background, with trailing crimson clouds, blends harmoniously with the vast expanse of Tayabas sky, thus presenting an angelic descent.

Dondi Silang, the municipal mayor who is an artist himself, conceptualized the design that was executed by Arnel Suarez, a Tayabasin painter. In their youth, both were altar boys and members of the Knights of St. Michael, which was organized in 1972.

The ethereal painting has a meditational effect, transporting the viewer to the reality of St. Michael’s battle both in heaven and on earth. His sword points downward to signify not just his triumph but also the continuing task of taming evil. His left foot is upon the head of the Evil One who has been thrust to the ground.

Diverging from the usual realistic image of Satan with bat-like wings, horns, fangs, cloven feet and tail, he is now pictured in an Impressionistic manner. More like a being of dense shadow that dwells in the dark subterranean realm.

In contrast, St. Michael is portrayed winged and translucent but also a defined robust human figure, firmly and solidly anchored on earth.

"Ang kabutihan ay ipinaglalaban
," says Mayor Dondi, stressing that the angelic message they wish to propagate is that good is fought for. One needs to awaken to the range of existing choices between good and evil. For freedom and courage to be exercised, one must first be conscious. That’s the Michaelic position and the beginning of upright action.

"Quis sicut Deus
" are Latin words inscribed on St. Michael’s shield. "Who is like God," is Michael’s name, the battle cry of the celestial forces during the uprising in the spiritual world. In Revelations, it is the Archangel Michael who descends from heaven with "the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand to bind Lucifer, the great Dragon, for a thousand years" (Rev. 20:1).

St. Michael is renowned in Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths. In Islamic writings, he is known as Mika’il. Many spiritual movements today acknowledge him as the Guardian of the Earth and spirit of the time. Hence, all over the world millions of individuals bear the name Michael or Michelle.

"Quis sicut Deus.
" Try to experience these words resounding in your larynx. Do you know that every consonant and vowel you utter has a corresponding sound and color? Words are substances that nourish or destroy.

The same is true when it comes to images we see in our mind. See angels and we enliven the good in us. And most likely, we will perform angelic deeds.

Deep affinity with angels is evident in Tayabas, having been Christianized by the Franciscan missionaries who founded the town in 1578, built the stone church two years after and named it after St. Michael. In the Litany to St. Michael, the archangel is invoked as the Prince of the Seraphim.

Necias Chaves Pataunia, co-author of Tayabas Through the Centuries, says that St. Francis is known as Seraphic and his congregation the Seraphic Order. It’s from the name of the Seraphims, who according to Dionysius – the Christian theologian of the early sixth century – are the glowing ones. Ranking highest in the hierarchy of angels, they sing ceaselessly to God’s glory. Hence, Franciscan-built churches are replete with angels that proclaim their glorious wings.

Angelic presence abounds in Tayabas. When you enter the town from Lucena City, the angel of judgment will greet you as it sounds its trumpet in Ermita de San Roque, also known as Sanctuario de las Almas.

Next, take a walk at the church patio. Here, the cherubs, chiseled in stone relief, will warm your heart as they play the lute, trombone, drum and trumpet. The Cherubims are beings of divine wisdom and come next to the Seraphim in the Hierarchy of Heavenly Host.

Now, look up at the façade of the Basilica and behold the stone-carved statues of three archangels. Raised aloft in their individual niches, they stand at the topmost tier. St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael oversee the entire town that stretches across 23,000 hectares of land with 80,000 people in 66 barangays.

Still these angelic beings are not enough for the Tayabasin. If you enter the Minor Basilica, you will find a statue of the Blessed Mother Mary in a most unique rendition. The Nuestra Señora de los Angeles is luxuriously portrayed with her outstretched wings. Clad in blue robe, she stands in the central retablo of the altar. The sublime mother of Jesus has now become the Mother of the Heavenly Host.

Tayabas angel is, however, not merely confined to celestial poses and whispers. She or he is engaged in actual work on earth. The yearly May 15 procession presents the image of San Isidro Labrador in the company of an angel actually plowing the rice field.

Angels walk upon the face of Tayabas to work directly with its community. That’s the message you will hear and see in this elegant town. Look at a boy named Avel M. de la Peña. Poverty has imbued him with a sense of sacrifice. He had to stop schooling several times; hence at 12 he is only in grade II at Barangay Calumpang Elementary School. To continue his education, he has to live with his aunt, away from his parents and siblings whom he sees only on weekends.

He was confronted with a bigger test, not in the classroom but in the real world. He witnessed the robbery of his school’s sound system worth P40,000. His angel, thus, called him to a noble deed. Inspired with strength and bravery to speak the truth, he came forward as a witness, leading the police in apprehending the thief.

Avel’s triumph in fighting for good was rewarded by the municipal government and the Department of Education. He was given the Yanong Galing! (Exemplary) award and hailed as a Tayabasin model of outstanding and heroic courage.

Avel’s test involved an outward gesture. On the other hand, an inward gesture of uprightness was demanded by the trial that came upon Mark Lester A. Saballeque, 15, another Tayabasin boy, son of a driver.

Mark’s subtle test happened in his loob or inner self. When he rode the tricycle one day, he found a sophisticated cell phone, model 7650 with built-in camera worth P24, 000. Wasn’t this his good luck? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to own this? After all, no stealing was involved. Being the finder, he is the keeper.

Mark, however, took the decisive step. He waited for the owner to call the mobile phone that was now in his hand. And when he did, Mark answered and gladly returned the unit to him. Mark is the latest recipient of Yanong Galing!, another example of one who listens to the angel’s whisper: "Rise to a higher sense of integrity!"

Mark reaped other unexpected rewards: P1,500 from the phone owner, one-year scholarship from Mayor Dondi and a job next summer.

It is the principal role of angels to awaken human beings to their true potential and sacred destiny. For the Tayabasin, this means being awakened to the task of protecting and evolving its exceptionally rich history and cultural heritage.

When the time is ripe, angels are excellent in scheduling convergence of paths and events. The UNESCO National Commission and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila are among the institutions that were recently enchanted by Tayabas.

With children and youth from Tayabas and other foothill towns of Banahaw, the UNESCO World Heritage in Young Hands Workshop was successfully conducted in Casa de Comunidad.

Since there are no accidents in life, it is heartwarming to believe that St. Michael’s towering figure in the church plaza signals the heightening of Tayabasin creative energies. And that he bestows upon the Tayabasin the will and courage to carry its community to its highest destiny.

The Tayabasin regard St. Michael as the mighty protector who kept watch over them during the Second World War when Americans bombarded the town. So many old stone houses, as beautiful as the ones in Vigan, were leveled to the ground. The only large structure left then was the church of St. Michael.

In this contemporary period, St. Michael is probably saying: "As long as you invoke a conscious partnership with me, Tayabas’ great heritage will not be squandered."

St. Michael speaks not just to the Tayabasin but also to all of us. He invites us to participate in the transfiguration of the earth. Even while armed conflicts are mounting in many parts of the world, St. Michael and all the angels are guiding our steps onward to our highest vision.
* * *
Feast Days Of St. Michael
May 8 – St. Michael’s Apparition on Mount Gargano in Apulia, Italy

September 6
– Second Feast Day of St. Michael in the Greek Orthodox Church

September 29
– Michaelmas or Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels

October 16
– St. Michael’s Apparition at Mont-Saint Michel in France

November 8
– First Feast Day of St. Michael in the Greek Orthodox Church
* * *
For more information, contact the Office of the Mayor,Tayabas, Quezon at (042) 793-2200, fax (042) 793-2793 and e-mail: mytowntayabas@yahoo.com.

ANGELS ARCHANGEL MICHAEL ARNEL SUAREZ GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH MAYOR DONDI MICHAEL ST. MICHAEL TAYABAS TAYABASIN YANONG GALING
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