La Virgen Milagrosa and Nana Leonila Arzadon of Badoc

St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

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.”

St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos Norte, PhilippinesLa Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc

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.

Catechist HonestoChurch AisleBadoc Church TilesCoral Pink BougainvilleaSt. Elizabeth Elementary School

What used to be a convent is now the St. Elizabeth Elementary School.

Church Butresses 2St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Badoc, Ilocos NorteChurch ButressesGumamela ni Nana LeonilaBalay ni Nana Leonila diay Badoc

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.

With the 2nd curator of the Juan Luna Shrine
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

The Juan Luna Effect

“Genius has no country, genius burst forth everywhere, is like light and air — the patrimony of all; cosmopolitan as space, as life as God.” ~ the words of Jose Rizal to the Spaniards who belittled Juan Luna’s exceptional talents because of his brown skin.

In our time, the way to introduce Ilocano painter Juan Luna would go like this: a global talent, Pinoy Pride Juan Luna.

A pioneer in Philippine artistic expression, Juan Luna was the first Filipino artist to receive international recognition for his works. Visiting the restored Luna ancestral house in Badoc and viewing his masterpieces, albeit reproductions, was an amazing experience.

After the recent tragic hostage-taking incident, I was hurt that the world sees mediocrity as the new face of the Filipino people. Today, after studying Luna’s splendid artworks, artworks that were accomplished during the so-called frailocracy, it got through my head… there is so much hope, we can be a great nation again…

The high drama of the Spoliarium. It won the First Gold Medal in the Madrid exposition.
Brother Antonio Luna’s Katipunan uniform.
Juan Luna’s real bed which was retrieved from his Binondo residence.
Juan Luna had 445 artworks. A number of his original works were lost/damaged during World War II.
“Parisian Life” aka “Interior d’un Cafiwas bought by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for 46M at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in 2002. The details in the chef d’oeuvre are extraordinary. The 1892 painting used to belong to the daughters of Katipunan heroes Julio Nakpil and Gregoria de Jesus. Chris Eduarte, the museum technician at the Juan Luna Shrine, says, “The woman might be the mirror image of the Philippines as seen in a map; Juan Luna was a sailor in his early years.”
“El Violinista” The broken string and the bare feet, if you notice, make it more dramatic. Some say that the boy must be his brother, Manuel, who was a violinist.
The boy is Andrés Luna de San Pedro, the only son of Juan Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera. His sister, Bibi, died in infancy. Andrés, a painter and an accomplished architect (designer of the Arlegui House, the residence of former president Corazon Aquino during her term), was married to Grace Mcrae. The couple didn’t have a child.
Juan Luna with our beloved Jose Rizal and Valentin Ventura, who lent Rizal money for the publication of El Filibusterismo, the sequel to Noli Me Tangere.
Not Luna’s, but a reminder of our past.
An antique calesa of an unnamed doctor.
The Luna House was fully restored in 1977. Several pillars, made with lime and egg whites, are still the original.

but only if, synchronously, we throw into oblivion the monkey wrenching crab mentality and lift our hands up in the air and reach for the stars.

Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Mino’s Napoli Pizza: It’s Italian, but it’s also Ilocano

Napoli pizza with tomatoes, olives and anchovies

What do Italian and Ilocano cuisines have in common? Smelly salted anchovies, in Ilocano,  “bugguong a monamon”. Many people may find the smell of this preserved fish ingredient repulsive, but it is what makes both cuisines excitingly flavorful.

Ilocanos can’t live without the funky smelling fish. They consume “bugguong” like crazy. They use it on “dinengdeng”, “pinakbet”, salads, or eat it plain with their rice. Ilocanos bring their “bugguong” wherever they go, even to America, to the consternation of their whole neighborhood.

Anchovies is also the backbone to numerous Italian dishes. Italians are wont to add anchovies to certain pizza and pasta dishes.

A native of Como in Italy, and married to an Ilocana, Mr. Giacomo “Mino” Iavorone, owner of Mino’s Italian Pizza in Badoc makes his own salted “monamon” condiment. It is present in his Napoli Pizza, which I adore. Not really a hole in the wall, the no-frills, relaxed Mino’s pizzeria has been around since January 1996, and it remains to be visited by Ilocos locals and travelers alike.

I asked him how do Ilocanos like his cooking, and he said, “At first, they were agkadiakadiay (flip-flopping). Now, they have accepted the Italian way. I don’t cook sweet spaghetti. I use only the freshest tomatoes, and I make my own dough and pastas.”

“I’m getting old. No, just this,” he said when I asked if he intends to open up another pizzeria like in Laoag.

Spinach ravioli in butter

Mino’s menu consists of spaghetti, cannelloni, ravioli, lasagna, tramezzini sandwiches, his own version of hamburger, and pizzas that come in two sizes and flavors such as napoli, margherita, capricciosa, seafood, al pesto, mushrooms, salami and cheese. The prices are easy on the pocket, nothing over fifty pesos for each serving of pasta, and his pizzas, big, P180-240 and small, P100-150.

White Pizza with white sauce, mushrooms, bacon and cheese

White pizza is his latest. The carbonara-like sauce was good. As usual, the crust was chewy and nice, not cardboard-like. He also has a new ravioli that comes in mushroom sauce which I have to try next time.

Mino’s down in Badoc is just so hard to ignore, the smell of anchovies in his napoli pizza calls time and again.

Mino’s Italian Pizza Badoc, Ilocos Norte (Open from Mondays to Saturdays) Tel. No. (077) 6700083 Cellphone  No. (0926)6464174
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED