Antipolo Pilgrimage is a month-long celebration that brings devotees and pilgrims to venerate the "Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage" which is enshrined in Antipolo Church in Antipolo City. This is annually celebrated every month of May.
Features of the Festival
It is during the month of May when Filipino devotees to the Blessed Virgin from different parts of the country throng on the hills of Antipolo to make a pilgrimage at the shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). The folk song “Tayo na sa Antipolo” vividly captures the festive air of this season in this rural town some decades ago. 'Tayo na sa Antipolo' 'at doo'y maligo tayo' 'sa batis na kung tawagin' 'ay Hi-hi-hinulugang Taktak' 'at doo'y kumain' 'ng mangga' 'kasuy at balimbing' 'kaya't magmadali ka at' 'tayo ay sumama sa Antipolo.'
The City "Antipolo"
The pilgrimage city of Antipolo is also known as “the city in the sky” for its high altitude (711 above sea level). It lies east of Manila, bounded on the northwest by Marikina and San Mateo on the east by the Quezon province, and on the southwest by Taytay and Cainta.
Coincidentally, a new festival falls on the 1st of May too, the Sumakah Festival. It depicts the major products of Antipolo City, namely suman, mangga, kasuy, as well as the hamaka (hammock or duyan)--the old means of transportation of going up to the highlands. However, it is not only these products that are highlighted but also the rich cultural and historical heritage of the City. Part of the merriment are street dancing competitions, cultural presentations, arts and culinary exhibits and agro-industrial and tourism fairs.
Today, the paved roads and the urbanized Antipolo can be reached an hour or less from Manila. The pilgrimage now consists of a quick mass at the shrine. In the olden days, pilgrims stay in Antipolo for several days. The visitors simply rented the homes of Antipolo residents who, during the season, move elsewhere, or simply sequestered themselves in some corner of the house. Most homes had no toilet facilities. Brooks and rivulets were the communal bathhouses.
The Beginning of Pilgrimage
The pilgrimage is a month-long celebration that sees devotees trekking up a much-trodden path leading to the religious shrine, more popularly known as the Virgin of Antipolo. The image is believed to be already three hundred years old and is said to manifest miraculous powers.
According to historians, the venerated icon had on more than one occasion saved her galleon from wreckage by Dutch and British blockades, as well as pirates, while it sailed between Manila and Acapulco.
It is every 30th of April, the eve of May 1, that pilgrims make the trip. Afterwards, the usual side trip would be to Hinulugang Taktak, a waterfall just outside of town. It was made a National Park in the 80s.
The most stereotyped Antipolo-pilgrimage scene was that of a woman lying comfortable in a hammock or duyan while in her Maria Clara dress. Hammock was the Antipolo Transportation System. There were no roads to Antipolo –only footpaths. The most fashionable way to traverse the seven hills to Antipolo was in these primitive hammock-carriages. They were the original Philippine pedicabs. However, the extinction of the hammock came when the railway transportation in the Philippines extended it line all the way to Antipolo in 1908. By the 1920s the trip could be made by car in a couple of hours, but he nine-day stay in Antipolo was still a de riguer. So the family took along supply of clothes, beddings, food and liquor; rented part of a house and crowded into one or two rooms.”
The Shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo
The present church is a modern structure that replaced the old Antipolo Church. Architecturally, it is more functional than the old church but it has nothing of the old Antipolo spirit.The church of Antipolo began with a hundred peso contribution from the royal government, the parishioners did the rest. By 1604, the people of Antipolo erected a church of timber. The wooden structure was replaced with a stone and lime edifice. The church became a shrine of a little treen image of the Blessed Virgin that Governor General Juan Niño de Tabora brought with him from Acapulco in 1626, it was the image that made Antipolo the most famous town in the Philippines. It cult began when it mysteriously disappeared from the altar and just mysteriously found a top an antipolo tree. To commemorate the miracle, a pedestal was carved out of the trunk of the antipolo and it became known thereafter as the Virgin of Antipolo. A major appeal of the Antipolo Virgin was her native complexion. Many artists created works of art inspired from the venerated image. In 1863 oil painting of the Antipolo virgin with her crowned jewels is by Justiniano Asuncion. According to legend, Asuncion could not capture the charisma of the Virgin on canvas until he heeded the suggestion of a pious person that he execute the painting on his knees.The Virgin of Antipolo reputedly had jewels worth more than two million pesos. Later, the collection was evaluated at ten thousand pesos. Someone had either stolen or replaced the jewels during the turbulent times of the revolution.
- Antipolo Pilgrimage - religious tradition to the elder people, whom are blessed by the Virgin all year round (Accessed April 21, 2009)
- Antipolo Pilgrimage (Accessed April 21, 2009)
- Antipolo Culture and Arts (Accessed April 21, 2009)