This is an amazing story shared to us from a devotee from Cavite... He's truly a great artist. I am sure our Lady of La Naval is smiling down on his amazing amazing tribute...
To all my fellow Santo Rosario devotees, my name is F.P. and I live in Cavite. Allow me to share this rather long story and please bear with me as I share this rather big story about a little Queen…
2:05 PM, October 12, 2008, National Shrine of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, La Naval de Manila. At last, I reached the shrine for the Great Procession of La Naval, after being drenched in the sudden downpour from TM Kalaw, Manila, and having gone down the last vehicle I have to take for me to reach the stupendous edifice that was Santo Domingo church. I have at last, reached my destination -- well not just me though. For in my hands was a big box that served as an impromptu shelter for a little Queen, a 2 foot high replica of the Madonna. And not just some ordinary Madonna, for when I reached the doors of the church, the large Madonna of the La Naval was being brought down from the Baldachino and being installed in her triumphal carroza. It won’t be long until my two foot replica of the La Naval will join the procession, and will meet, face to face with the La Beata Virgen Canonica -- the original La Naval.
Since 2003, I have been a devotee of the La Naval de Manila. And even before that, I have been, more or less, a devotee of the Santo Rosario since this string of beads was exactly the first prayer taught me by my mother. Since then, especially when I was in high school and later during the worst years of my life, the Holy Rosary had been my principal weapon against despair. And yes, there were miracles. Some discreet, some spectacular, but all were given by God in times of great need, thanks to His Mother.
Shown in these pictures is the very replica of the La Naval de Manila, though not like the other replicas in Santo Domingo and elsewhere, where they average to about 6 feet tall, from pedestal to the top of the Virgin's head (I dont know exactly how tall the La Canonica is) but this one is different! She is around 2 feet 4 inches tall, but she is virtually an exact replica of the La Naval in her canonical regalia -- well almost though I have to make a few adjustments. I did her myself -- for ten months, from January to October, right at the eve of her fiesta. Funny to think though that it took me a decade to do this! No, not ten years, but rather from January to October. 10 months -- one month for one Ave Maria in a decade of the Rosary. The motive was a collective Thank You to Both Jesus and Mary for the all the things They did to us through the Rosary.
My devotion to Mother Mary and Jesus Her Son via the Rosary is no funny matter. This is exactly, as I would repeat, the very first prayer taught me by my mother, and both of Them (our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary) prove to be very close to us through this prayer. It was through this prayer that saw us through the difficult times.
It was through this prayer that aided my mother through her heart ailments.
It was through this prayer that saw me through and aided me to succeed during my high school years, third year high school to be exact. Thanks to Them and Their help, I made it to the creame section.
It was also this prayer that consoled me through the difficult, battering times of my senior years. During those years of isolation when virtually no one wanted to befriend me just because I was different from the others. I focused on my studies while the rest have to enjoy their lives in the bandwagon of adolescence.
It was through the devotion to Mary in Her aspect of the Santo Rosario that granted my father a job -- overnight! Or more amazingly, 8 hours after we prayed and clasped Her Hand through a Santo Rosario image that visited a Mall in Alabang (it was a Manaoag statue, but still the same Mama Mary). Viva la Virgen!
It was through this prayer that we were utterly spared from the apocalypse caused by the 220 kilometer per hour winds of Typhoon Milenyo, that September 28, 2006. All of the trees in my neighborhood were demolished. Those winds were merciless! They were strong enough to lift whole houses (well barung-barongs actually) and snap concrete power poles as if they were stick-o chocolate sticks! But neither, NOT ONE of the 23 trees in my yard was ever uprooted or destroyed. The altar was lit with candles, I was praying the rosary while Hell was roaring outside the door. I can see the sky turn brown and the winds literally growling like a beast. Then the eye came everything calmed down, but Hell returned again! But GRACIAS A DIOS!!! VIVA LA VIRGEN!!! We were spared! Not even a single roof shingle blown away!
It was also through Them through the Rosary that we were also spared the wrath of Typhoon Frank. I was praying the Rosary again and the storm weakened significantly, even when the eye skirted more than 20 dozen kilometers from my house, but the winds were still strong enough.
It was also a Rosary that I was praying at the altar, when I and virtually millions of others were praying for the failure of the missiles that PyongYang, North Korea, was launching for their tests (what the hell were they doing? Inciting World War 3?) Anyway, after 9 days of Rosaries, the missiles were fired, but they all went dud and fell into the sea according to CNN! GRACIAS A DIOS!!! VIVA LA VIRGEN!!!
Not to mention that it was through the intercession of Mama Mary, even if it did not involve a rosary, that won other favors, such as my inclusion into a Senator Angara scholarship in college (big, BIG help for my family, especially with the much needed stipend) and I wound up Magna Cum Laude when I graduated -- GRACIAS A DIOS!!! VIVA LA VIRGEN!!!
And so, in my desire to have a replica of the La Naval in my house, and of course, in gratitude to all the things Mama Mary and Her Son Jesus did to us, I have ultimately decided to make a replica of the La Naval.
I started by surfing through the Internet for photos from the Virgin as a whole, down to the very jewelry that she wore during her coronation during that October 1907. At this point, I would like to send my sincerest thanks to the Flicr.com photographers for their astounding pictures. I also have personal photographs of the La Naval -- I took those photos with my camera during the 2003 La Naval. Lastly, for details, I also had a large poster of La Naval bought straight from Santo Domingo on 2004. I have to use them for reference to transform the otherwise, old little worn-down statue of the Manaoag into a neat looking replica of the La Naval de Manila. And I got round of the La Canonica in her canonical attire -- I set myself to work.
The materials were all cheap -- gold foil paper (palara, to make the accessories such as the 2 crowns, the halo, the rostrillo, the golden baston and staff and the intricate embroidery of the mantle) gold textured foil paper for the manto, silver cigarrette foil ( for the silver pedestal) recycled scratch paper (for the cloud pedestal) white water-based poster paint for the Virgin's and Nino's face to imitate ivory. Oh yes, I used scratch cartolina for the mantle and inner garment. I cannot carve their hands -- it was all too intricate, so I cut paper folder hands for them instead.
The jewelry? Nope they of course are not real diamonds, cant afford that! The 24 stars around her head are actually accentuated with green glasss cut to look like emeralds. I was looking for something to look like diamonds but then I came across these green emeralds. Something in me told me to choose this, and it worked out perfectly! Anyway, the emeralds will represent the green color of our Islands that She Interceded to God to stem the Dutch away. Oh yes, in fidelity to the real Aurole, I have to craft more than 53 little springs made of tiny wire, wound around safety pins to make them -- they were fastened with molten plastic glue to make the stars quiver -- a tremblant.
The mantle was very VERY ELABORATE! It took a painstakingly long time to make the appliques, amidst the mind boggling arabesques and curlicues and flowery abstracts of the design! It was the Numero Uno that I imitated. But I have to make a few adjustments to fill in the gaps in the design and voila!
Thus, streams and streams of cut glass diamonds ( from fancy headbands 15 pesos a piece), and silver sequins, red imitation ruby buttons (thanks SM Southmall) and cut silver cigarrette tinfoil, were painstakingly glued to accentuate her canonical crown, the rostrillo, and the halo. Multi colored jewel stickers from 1 peso marshmallows were used to imitate the emeralds, the topazes, the garnets and other stones used in the 7 archepiscopal rings set in the Virgin's staff and her baston de capitan. And lastly, there were small objects from my house, small humble tokens from our home and our lives that I would like to place on the Madonna -- like the Virgin's and Nino's crowns. They have bottle crowns to fasten it on their Heads -- thanks to little magnets glued on their Heads. These were from the store that thanks to Them through the Rosary, is now 4 years old and still running prosperous!
At last, by October 11, 2008, at around 11 PM, she was complete. The next day I crafted the collapsible cardboard box to contain her on our journey to Santo Domingo, where she will be blessed and crowned.
To me though, the work was hard, but every gesture, such as cutting the designs, glueing the stars and setting the cut glass jewelry, was a prayer in itself. I remembered breathing a "Hail Mary" everytime I would stencil and cut the gold tinfoil -- thank you Mama Mary this I do in gratitude to all Your help and Your Son's too, be all the Glory and Thanks.
October 12, 2008, Santo Domingo Church, 3:05 PM. I finally found a spot near the reception lobby where I dressed her in silence. Of course, people were looking as to what I was doing. I got round of a Dominican priest named Father Nilo -- very good American English accent though. I asked him for the favor to bless the Madonna and crown both of Them, which he did -- first the Child Jesus and as soon as the Virgin was crowned we sang the Salve Regina, and up came Her Halo on her head.
She was quite a sight indeed, smiling as a Dominican priest was paying her tribute. And so was everyone who saw her on that day -- nuns, religious, seminarians, acolytes who accompanied the Saints on their flowery carrozas. The little Queen followed right after the carroza of Saint Dominic -- I carried her of course. But when she was brought into the church and out of the door she must have been a sight indeed, enough to make the audience gasp in silence, aim their cell phones and at least for 2 people, reach out and venerate her -- Later, scores of people woud touch her, venerate her and bless themselves upon seeing her that night. One elderly Knight of Columbus made a half salute when he saw Her! (to my suprise, I was about to say sorry for having bumped against him).
It came to the point that other scores of people would take their pictures alongside her on a table in one of the offices in church, where we both retired after the 2 hour procession. Quite funny though that the Virgin's halo was already tiliting to the right when they were shooting pictures with her that night. I certainly have to fix that! And one Dominican priest joked with an elderly matron saying, "Hindi ikaw and cute! Ang cute si Mama Mary!"
Though if course there were accidents. she bumped against people thrice and the Nino fell to the floor and to the pavement; His Crown broke, good thing they didn’t trample on it -- and He has to proceed crownless! The second fall was a bit tragic, since in my effort to fix Him, we missed the La Canonica and the thousands who followed her. Anyway, the La Canonica and the little Queen did greet one another at the doors of the church, when La Canonica was brought out in great applause, and when during the procession, they were approximately 20 feet off, right in the midst of a stupendous sea of candles and prayers that was the Procession de la Processiones.
Thus on that time, the little Queen it seemed, was not only a little token of eternal thanks for all that our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary had done to us through the years. But to the thousands who came to that La Naval de Manila, the little queen became a small but very profound object of their faith and devotion. She became for them, the La Naval, though of course, she is La Naval, only a smaller. But of course, you cannot climb up the carroza to touch the real La Naval Virgin -- you have to be a member of the Justice League to do that ( Ha! Ha! Ha!). Thus, in one way, the little La Naval is the Madonna that they can touch with their fingers, as well as their eyes and their hearts.
Now, she is at the little altar of my home, along with other Santos which I bring out in procession in some times of the year. But due to the stupendous impressions I felt during that October 12, I will bring her to Santo Domingo year after year now, this time, with candles to light her face, (on lamps of course, I don’t want her to burn and become a candle herself!), all in thanks to the Virgin and to her Son. And for the sake of the hundreds of faithful who call on Both of Them as La Naval de Manila.
GRACIAS A DIOS! VIVA LA NAVAL!!!