I do believe in miracles. I also believe in goodness, humaneness, perseverance and above all, faith.
Today, I paid La Virgen Milagrosa a visit. I had to ask a local where I could see the miraculous Virgin Mary. It’s such a wonder the esteemed 400-year old image was at the St. John the Baptist Parish Church for there are days when she travels to places. She was crowned The Patroness of the Diocese of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, in 1980.
The downcast-eyed Virgin Mary (in a wooden box) together with another statue, Santo Cristo Milagroso, angels and a violin were said to have been discovered floating in the sea by fishermen in a village in Lugo in Dadalaquiten Norte, Sinait, Ilocos Sur.
Honesto, the catechist at the 200-year old church says that the image of the miraculous Crucified Christ and the violin were left in Sinait while La Virgen Milagrosa and the angels were entrusted to the fisherman from Badoc.
A kind dame, the 86-year old second curator of the Juan Luna Shrine and a Child of Mary, Nana Leonila Benemerito Arzadon (who I met after the church visit), says that there are times when it is impossible to move the image to a different location. “No di na kayat mabagkat ket madi.”
The cut on her chin, Honesto says, was from an attempt to desecrate her, but survived the whack, and all the calamitous events in the past. The old golden crown was stolen some decades ago.
What used to be a convent is now the St. Elizabeth Elementary School.
Nana Leonila lives in this beautiful 1928 house inherited from her father, Bibiano. It stands out in the neighborhood.
She’s a “balasang” and lives with two younger ladies, perhaps her nannies. She suffered a stroke and had to quit work. I asked if she ever had a boyfriend or boyfriends and she giggled. “Sika a! Madi daguita idi.” I love the woman! It so happened that she knew my lolas and aunts in Batac and Paoay. I think also my dad and mom, back in the Cursillo and Daughters of Isabela days.
She hesitated to be photographed, but changed her mind when I said I will also be in the frame. The photo turned out blurry, yet I like it. When I kissed her goodbye, she uttered “Ammum, college ak iddi ag-usu ti shorts.” I asked, “Agso–shorts ka met ngarud iddi a, lola?” “Haan,” she said giggling.
She says, by the grace of God, she survives. I noticed her extra-long “pidit-pidit”. Told her, she should reach her 100th birthday ‘coz I’ll be going back to photograph her.