The Saga of La Naval, Triumph of a People’s Faith
SUNDRY STROKES (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2014 - 12:00am

The huge volume  “The Saga of La Naval, Triumph of a People’s Faith” got to me very late because it was earlier sent to The STAR offices, and not to my residence.

The voluminous saga contains articles by various writers and academicians, and an editor’s note by Lito B. Zulueta. Listed in chronological order are contributors  Rolando V. de la Rosa, OP, Regalado Trota Jose, Roland D. Mactal, OP, Isidro G. Alano, OP, Ramon N. Villegas, Maria Angelita R. Reyes, Jose Victor Z. Torres, Ph.D., Romeo B. Galano  Jr., Maximo L. Noche, UAP, Maria Lourdes Zaragoza Banson, Rolando M. Castro, OP, Lucio Gutierrez, OP, Fidel Villaroel, OP, Julie Ann A. Hallazgo, Eugene A. de los Santos, Maria Eloisa G. Parco de Castro, Erlita P. Mendoza, Lito B. Zulueta and Nick Joaquin.

I quote from Zulueta’s Editor’s note: “No Catholic icon in the Philippines could arguably lay claim to as much heady historic and searing cultural significance as Our Lady of the Naval. Originally and still called by the name of Santissimo Rosario, the icon that is housed in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary at the Santo Domingo Church in QC has gone beyond Marian spirituality and iconography and reached saga proportions owing to key political, historical, social and cultural events that have revolved around the image and the devotion across the centuries.”

The book can’t be read in one sitting; as I turned the pages at random, the piece “Battle of La Naval: Rages of Waves, Fury of Faith” by Florentino H. Hornedo seemed exciting. I read it and was not disappointed; it did full justice to the book’s subtitle, “Triumph of a People’s Faith.”

Hornedo’s account focuses on the sea battles between the Dutch and the Spaniards who were aided by a few Filipino seamen. The year was 1646, Manila was still recovering from the ravages of the earthquake the previous year.

The Spaniards had only two merchant galleons, not war ships, that sailed to Acapulco and back for the galleon trade, namely, the flagship Encarnacion and the Rosario. Both, re-constructed for battle, were under the command of Gen. Lorenzo de Orella y Ugalde and Admiral Sebastian Lopez, respectively. They were seasoned seafarers but totally unsure of victory.

Why? The Dutch had seven warships and some 800 fighting men. The Spaniards had two dubious ships and hurriedly recruited sailors.

Each Spanish ship’s two Dominican friars implored the men, as did their commanders, to pray the rosary throughout the day, with all the faith and fervor they could muster.

Miraculously, although the Spaniards were outnumbered in each of the three battles, they consistently out-maneuvered the Dutch, even as the Dutch fire boat, armed with 30 cannons, tried to set the Spanish ships on fire. During the attempt, the men on the Encarnacion were lustily shouting “Ave Maria!” and “Long live the Faith of Christ and the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary!” Incredibly enough, it was the Dutch fire boat that sank!

An actual description by a Spaniard of the event follows: “Our ships were hit by a great number of bullets and artillery shots from both artillery and musketry which seemed like rain or hale of bullets over our ships (but) no one was killed in the Captain’s ship.”

Here one calls to mind the Memorare which starts thus: “Remember o most glorious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help and sought thy intercession was left unaided.”

*      *      *

The battles recounted above were in 1643, over three centuries ago. Perhaps devotees should redouble their prayers to the Virgin so the country’s endless festering problems can be speedily solved. The Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia. Yet, ironically, corruption, smuggling, bribery, theft and killings continue to be rampant. Our country ranks third in the number of journalists murdered each year.

About 20 years ago, I asked a visiting American professor what he thought the weakest aspect of our country’s governance. “The administration of justice” was his instant reply. Nothing has changed.

 

AVE MARIA BATTLE OF LA NAVAL DUTCH AND THE SPANIARDS EACH SPANISH ENCARNACION AND THE ROSARIO ERLITA P EUGENE A FAITH OF CHRIST AND THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY LITO B
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