Monday, March 30, 2009

the Virgin of Guadalupe- a Philippine-Mexican connection

As historical bloodlines go, Mexicans and Filipinos share an interminable affinity, thanks to the same conquistador- Imperial Spain. In an almost physical sense, the two cultures were bridged by a navigational galleon “hi-way” which persisted for 250 years, from 1565 to 1815. This commercial link between the cities of Manila and Acapulco bloated the coffers of Spain, promoted an eventual immigration by the tens of thousands and in the process, inevitably and deeply acculturated the two racially divergent nations.

Guadalupe on cardboard
a glitter-laden stamp of the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Guadalupe Cave, Cebu City, the Philippines

Guadalupe at Naga
a statue in a grotto in Naga, Cebu

Take language. Do you know that the Tagalog word “palengke” may have originated from the Mexican “palenque”? The synonymous “tiangge” is likewise derivative of the Mexican “tiangui”. Mexico was also the likely source of the agricultural products which still carried the Castilian names like achuete, cacao, calabaza, camachile, camote and chico. Even the Mexican monetary standard, the peso, was adopted in the Philippines. In return, the Philippines exported products and the name terms for the Philippine mango, nipa and the coconut wine “tuba”.

Guadalupe on canvas
an image printed on canvas at the Guadalupe Cave

Guadalupe on cloth
a banner with a painted image of the Lady, the Church of Guadalupe, barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City

In religion, the Mexican influence could no more be demonstrated by the veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This representation of the Marian apparition in 16th century Mexico is in fact the Patron Lady of the Philippines at large and of Cebu in particular.

guadalupe giant statue
a giant statue at the Guadalupe cave, Cebu City, the Philippines

guadalupe in plaster
a plaster figurine at a grotto in the cave of Guadalupe, Cebu City

In Cebu City can be found an eponymously named barangay where a replica of the Guadalupe image from Spain was said to have been long venerated. According to accounts, when the Filipinos revolted against the Spanish in the end of the 19th century, the statue was thought to have been lost in the skirmishes but a local devotee hid the centuries-old statue in a mountainous cave. Several years later, it was discovered intact and unscathed and the place is now named Guadalupe.

reflections on Guadalupe
the statue of Guadalupe in the Church of Guadalupe, Cebu City

ray of light
Guadalupe on wood, the Church of Guadalupe, Cebu City

All throughout Cebu, the Virgin can be found in various forms, from life-size statues, sculptures, prints and doll-sized figurines to even cardboard prayer stamps. As it turns out, the Virgin unwittingly has become the epitome of “primitive” religious art – as opposed to classical Roman – not just Mexico but also in the Philippines. Ethnic expression has found a home.

Guadalupe sa langub
the main altar inside the cave of Guadalupe, barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City

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Mary Bullock said...

I just ran across your blog and find it fascinating! I had never thought about the connection between the two cultures before but you are exactly right - there is a connection. I love your photographs and explored your past posts to look at them. Very nice.

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

I agree, we have a lot in common with the Mexicans. Even Americans like to hire them for work even if they have no proper visas in the US because just like Pinoys, they really demonstrate their willingness to work hard.

Farl said...

thanks! so true. Filipinos and Mexicans share so much in experience and faith.

Lester G Cavestany said...

i enjoyed reading your post. you obviously did a lot of research and your photos are awesome

more power and god bless,

Farl said...

thanks Lester!