The ‘altars’ of the nation
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part II of “Where Divinity Descends, Humanity Ascends”)

The Praying Mother of the Hidden Shrine of Mt. Pinatubo was brought to Zambales in January 1992. Her arrival at the Shrine was covered by the Subic Bay News of January 31, 1992, which reported: “Unique job orders – Public Works Center (PWC) men and equipment recently anchored a four-ton statue of ‘Our Praying Mother of the Hidden Temple Shrine of Mt. Pinatubo’ on its pedestal located in what will become a shrine near a remote resettlement area in Sitio Palan, San Marcelino, Zambales. The statue, a 9’x7’x2’ concrete work of Filipino sculptor Pempe Floriano was brought to Palan early January to be mounted on a pedestal on top of a 60-foot hill, facing Mt. Pinatubo 13 miles away.”

Mt. Pinatubo Hidden Temple Shrine, a parting gift of  US Navy Admiral Mercer

The installation of the monuments of Our Lord and Blessed Mother was estimated by Capt. John Lehman’s chief engineer of the old US Naval Public Works Division of Subic to weld the two mystically sculpted monuments to a one and a half meter high pedestal (each statue weighs 6 tons and 4 tons respectively). The Gordons hesitated at first but finally asked the help of Admiral Tom Mercer who entertained my explanation. Dick and Kate were amazed when the admiral readily nodded to my request during the Christmas Party of the naval officers in 1991. Who would have thought that my husband Max and I would be drawn to the desperate plight of almost 60,000 Filipino workers, who suddenly lost their well-paying jobs when the calamity prematurely closed the last two remaining American military bases in Clark Field, Angeles, Pampanga and Subic, Olongapo, Zambales?

Battalion of giant angels guardians of the Shrine

During the first Easter Sunday Mass of 1992, audio cassettes set the spiritual tone of our pilgrimage. While the London Symphony orchestra tape played “Jerusalem” the sky darkened. Then suddenly, the dark clouds opened up and large shafts of light flared around the sky. Truly, it was grand Easter spectacle of lights. Ging-ging, a sensitive young clairvoyant was very excited. Days before she was getting the message, “Pupunta ka sa malayo, sa bundok” (You will be traveling far. Out to the mountains). She pointed to the bright luminous sky. “The sun and the moon are close together.” Many witnessed the awesome sight including me. Certainly, it was not the usual spinning sun (Miracles are not exclusive to one religion. Anglicans, Muslims, Buddhists also witness them). Then the images of the Blessed Trinity appeared: Our Father, Our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the form of a big dove. Together with them, the veiled face of Mother Mary appeared (this was caught on video film). By this time the symphony orchestra was playing “Ave Maria.”

Right after this, our clairvoyant school illustrator, Annie, together with Ging-ging and Punay saw a battalion of giant angels. Each platoon had a color. Annie noted violet, blue and yellow with gold. They were all marching with a roaring rhythm holding silver as the guardians of the shrine, according to the mystical messages Punay was receiving since Holy Thursday.

Cadiz, Negros Shrine adjacent to Escalante massacre site

Eight years earlier, around 1984 to 1990, Max and I have been helping our dear friend Punay Kabayao-Fernandez, a mystic artist from Cadiz, Negros Occidental to quietly set up two other major shrines. Right after the Escalante massacre, the Holy Ones requested that the statues of Our Lord and His Mother as well as that of St. Francis of Assisi be made for Punay’s ancestral home and estate, in Faraon, Cadiz, a two-hour trip from Bacolod and 20 minutes from Escalante.

Trinity of shrine message – ‘Ecumenical Brotherhood’

The second shrine was requested in 1986 right after the “EDSA Revolution,” had been up at our O.B. Montessori headquarters. The Shrine Avenue of Eisenhower St., corner Annapolis St., Greenhills is adjacent to Club Filipino. The complex of four buildings has 23 holy monuments. There is the mural of Angelique Victoria on the façade of the eight-story building, and the 12 life-size statues of the Temple of the Holy Family as well as the Vestal Virgin along Eisenhower Street. St. Francis of Assisi with three messenger doves faces Annapolis Street, while in the Italian Ristorante La Dolce Fontana is to his left. Inside is his large wall fresco, where both San Francesco d’ Assisi together with Santa Chiara, is painted thrice. Two hundred animals are spread out all over the “magic garden.”

Inside the courtyard is the grotto of the Lord of Sacrifice sitting on a bench with the World Mother. The Angel with the Pointing Hand stands on top of the grotto. On the second floor is the small prayer room with the wooden statue of Our Lord of Wisdom and Compassion and Our Lady of Liberty, where healing miracles occur. The faithful is invited here to pray and reflect in privacy. Both shrines mark the major national disasters of the country. Our Lord and His Blessed Mother specified their titles and how the holy monuments should look.

Including the Mt. Pinatubo Hidden Temple Shrine, all the three shrines are meant to be ecumenical, a fact which makes many Catholic prelates uncomfortable even if ecumenism was globally initiated by the late Catholic pontiff, Pope John XXIII. To this day, miracles keep occurring in all three shrines to numerous pilgrims, whether they are Aglipayan, Muslims, Protestants of any denomination, Buddhists, etc.

At the end of the path He is waiting for me

Michelle, a young librarian writes: “This is not my first time to visit Palan, but this is the most memorable. This pilgrimage has touched my life in a simple yet special way. I do not say that I have become a better person – no! But one thing is sure, it has strengthened my relationship with God.”

“I used to laugh at our traditional ‘fanaticism’ during Lent. Generation after generation of Filipinos patiently mumbling prayer from church to church, during the Good Friday procession, etc. The moment I tried to trudge downhill to the shrine, the whole life and death of Jesus flashed instantly in my mind. Every step I made allowed me to praise God, accept my unworthiness and be sorry for my sins. I asked help and guidance through Mother Mary’s intercession. While others complained of heat and dust, I experienced a calming effect. It made me realize that no matter what happens, Someone great is waiting for me at the end of the path.”

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