Antipolo Pilgrimage

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Antipolo Pilgrimage is a month-long celebration that brings devotees and pilgrims to Antipolo Church in Antipolo City to venerate the 17th-century wooden image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. This is annually held during the month of May.

Features of the Festival

During the month of May, Filipino devotees to the Blessed Virgin from different parts of the country throng 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 meters 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, another festival in Antipolo falls on the 1st of May, the Sumakah Festival. It showcases the major products of Antipolo City, including suman, mangga, and kasuy, as well as the hamaka (hammock or duyan)--the old means of transportation to the highlands. Along with these products, also highlighted is 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.

Antipolo Today

Today, urbanized Antipolo can be reached within an hour from Manila. The pilgrimage now consists of a quick mass at the shrine. In the olden days, pilgrims would stay in Antipolo for several days. The visitors would simply rent the homes of Antipolo residents who, during the season, would 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 the 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 thought 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. E very 30th of April, the eve of May 1, 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 comfortably in a hammock or duyan while in her Maria Clara dress. Hammock was a common means of transportation when were no roads yet to Antipolo – only footpaths. Pilgrims traversed the seven hills to Antipolo in these primitive hammock-carriages. However, the hammock went out of fashion after the railway transportation in the Philippines extended its line all the way to Antipolo in 1908. By the 1920s, the trip could be made by car in a couple of hours, but the nine-day stay in Antipolo was still a de riguer. So families would bring along supplies 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 pilgrimage church is a modern structure that replaced the old Antipolo Church. The old church 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 eventually replaced with a stone and lime edifice. The church became a shrine of an 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 known to the rest of the Philippines at the time. Its cult began when it mysteriously disappeared from the altar and then found atop 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 by the venerated image. In 1863, an oil painting of the Antipolo virgin with her crowned jewels was made 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. The jewels were either stolen or replaced during the turbulent times of the revolution.


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