In two years, we will be celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. It was in March 1521 when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was commissioned by the king of Spain to circumnavigate the world, who in turn ended up in Limasawa, Southern Leyte. Armed with a cross, an image of the Virgin Mary, and a Sto. Nino, the arrival signaled the beginning of Spain’s epic rule and the rest as we all know, is history.
The Spanish Influence
Fast forward to 2019, Spain’s influence continues to be felt everywhere: from the food we love to eat to the borrowed words we have been accustomed to using, we are to a large extent part Filipino, part Spanish. And perhaps it cannot be denied that their biggest influence is the introduction of Christianity to us Filipinos and particularly, the devotion to Mother Mary, which has taken all sorts of forms and permutations.
In Catholic churches, we often see groups of women praying the rosary before the start of Mass and even punctuating the end of mass with a novena. Numerous statues of the Virgin Mary is also a permanent fixture that extends to streets, sidewalks, and main thoroughfares. From billboards of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to the imposing Edsa Shrine statue, to the mini grottos which line up the eskinitas, she is omnipresent.
Religious Statues: Have they been abandoned?
But the many images and statues we see have something in common: they appear to have been abandoned and forgotten, left to accumulate dust and pollution, and looking like real eyesores in this metropolis which we so desperately try to beautify.
What’s more, in areas where there are high rise developments under construction with religious figures like these an original fixture of the said area, their demise seem to be apparent (may they rest in peace).
I am not sure if this lack of care is a result of our having grown cold in the faith, a byproduct of today’s prevailing throwaway culture (out with the old and in with the new), or plain and simple indifference but such neglect may ultimately lead to us eventually forgetting our history.
How often we are quick to be carried away by fads and trends today and in the process end up a bit lost and uncertain as to who we really are. If these big-time developers and architects had the mind to preserve little details such as this, how much richer and deeper our landscapes would be.
If other developing countries can do it, so can we.