Where divinity descends for humanity to ascend
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Everyone longs for wonders and miracles. Since the EDSA Revolution in 1986, the shrine at the Operation Brotherhood Montessori Center at the corner of Annapolis and Eisenhower streets was dedicated as a spiritual site “where divinity descends for humanity to ascend.”

1994 - The Holy Family monument, for the Pope’s visit

Christmas of 1994 found the completion of the monumental complex of the Holy Family with 13 statues. With the Holy Father visiting the Philippines, 160 male students from the Marinduque Institute of Science and Technology lodged with us to participate in the various events prepared for Pope John Paul II.

Joseph and Mary in the temple of Jerusalem proudly watched the 12-year-old blonde and blue-eyed Jesus preaching to the Pharisees, some of whom were enlightened in their humility, while the others looked down on Jesus with arrogance, disdain and intense jealousy. Among a total of 13 gigantic handsome figures under a magnificent Greek Doric temple roof is the tall and majestic Pharisee, who looks exactly like Moses by Michelangelo. Was Michelangelo the spirit guide of the sculptor Floriano? According to Punay, the Italian maestro would not reveal his name.        

The most touching figure of all, and which Italians call aggiornato or current fashion, is that of a handsome mother breast feeding a healthy baby held close to her breast while kneeling before the young Lord Jesus. Beside her is a large Golden Retriever.

Dec. 25, 1995 – photo finish, the Holy Family in technicolor

The mural of Angelique Victoria was finished by Dec. 7, 1995. The next day was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The painting of the Holy Family was started. At first, the Holy Ones objected to my secret wish that the 13 figures be painted in time for Christmas. There were only two weeks left before Christmas. Pempe calculated that each statue would require two weeks to paint. Thirteen of them would therefore need more than six months. But after a few days, just while Angelique was almost finished, the Holy Ones changed their mind, granting my wish. Lo and behold, the whole ensemble was all colorfully painted from Dec. 8 to the eve of Dec. 24. Philippine STAR put these colored pictures on its front page for its Christmas issue 1995.

1995 – Angelique Victoria, the angel of sacrifice and hope

The following year, in 1995, as the new eight-story façade of the O.B. Montessori College loomed in Greenhills shopping area, the 22nd spiritual creation was produced. The largest and most beautiful angel in the whole country, Angelique Victoria (or Angel of Sacrifice and Hope) was painted with the inscription, “Through Pains to Gains” – referring to 30 years various encounters of the school. As a mural painting, she has been robed in fuschia and violet with a rose in her bodice, framed by giant golden wings.

As always, both the late Punay Fernandez and Pempe Floriano worked closely on each dictated detail of color, texture, body, and facial expressions taking a total of six months. They paid particular attention to the outline of the hands holding the Holy Grail and Sword. Punay also reminded us to pray continuously because negative forces often distracted the sensitive sculptor.

The chalice is the highest divine symbol of mankind, evoking God the Son’s greatest SACRIFICE for man and the HOPE it brings. Ever since the Last Supper, the Holy Grail has been associated with the spiritual battle of man against evil. King Arthur and his Excalibur sword have inspired leaders of great nations. Men like Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur, John F. Kennedy, Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino courageously followed the Way with all its crushing passion and crucifixion.

They in turn have inspired the literate youth, especially during these crucial times. Schools help keep alive the quest of the youth to reach these ideals. Thus teachers must know how to uplift their souls, not only expand their minds and vivify their understanding.

Ode to the youth

The upper right side corner of the building shows the Roman Vestal Virgin, priestess of Vesta, the Goddess of the Hearth, who cultivates the sacred fire that’s not allowed to go out. It symbolizes the continuance and security of Rome.

The Vestal Virgin has taken the vow of chastity in order to devote herself to study and correct observance of state rituals. Her message carved in marble below states: “We are all the Keepers of the Flame… the child is the vessel and bearer of the light of God. From him will shine forth the golden ray of light to guide the destiny of this nation.”

Not just decorative but spiritually uplifting

During the last week of November in 1996, a so-called “concerned parent” wrote to the editors of TODAY complaining about the importance given to the mural of Angelique Victoria by the O.B. Montessori Center in Greenhills. A truly concerned parent would have clarified the problem directly with the school, so that within the day she would understand the schedule relocation of the child fetchers’ shed at the feet of the angel, as well as the improved security measures of the large school building complex.

In response to this controversy, Johann Ruiz of Olongapo City responded, and gave a resume not only of the angel, but the other holy monuments of the Shrine Avenue. “It may just be me, but I found the angel and the statues in question to have been well-made, tasteful, beautiful, and inspiring. All the reasons I think why the public statuary was made. Certainly, I find them fitting in their place, more so since they’re in school.

“When I drive by, I look forward to a refreshing view of the grand, kind angel which comforts me with warm thoughts of my protecting guardian angel as a child. She’s certainly a lot more refreshing than the glaring, vulgar billboards, which have now crowded out our blue skyline. But as for me, all I can add is, ‘thank God there are still places like O.B. Montessori, where there is still a place and money for ‘non-utilitarian’ things like angels and holy statues, which reminded us of the old real values, instead of ‘practical and modern considerations like waiting sheds and easy traffic. Why blame the angel for the messy traffic below by the way? I wish I lived in the area so I can really appreciate in depth the school.

OPERATION BROTHERHOOD MONTESSORI CENTER PRECIOSA S. SOLIVEN
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