Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Since the early nineteenth-century, there have been fierce rivalries among parish churches in Manila as to who could stage the more ostentatious and lavish grand procession of their respective patron saint. It was also an annual opportunity quickly seized by certain important citizens to display their wealth and social standing.

The Sta. Cruz Church prides itself of its annual celebration in October of its Our Lady of the Pillar whose ivory face and hands were made in Spain and brought to the Philippines by the Jesuits before their expulsion in 1768. For this year, the feast was preceded by a two-week exhibition of a rare collection of Our Lady of the Pillar statuettes, images, vintage photographs and books.

For last Sunday’s grand procession there was the customary fireworks display, two marching bands and a collection of carriages with each idol beautifully robed and its carriage elaborately decorated with fresh flowers. However, the procession was not without a snag because at some of Sta. Cruz’ street corners, low hanging wires of mostly telephone and cable TV prevented some carriages — especially those with towering statues — to pass unhindered. Poles had to be used to push up the wires while some had to climb up alongside the idol and lift the obstruction.

The grand procession attended by many devotees took more than three hours to complete its entire course along selected streets of Sta. Cruz, Manila. It was a solemn yet festive occasion; a much anticipated event by the area’s merchants, residents, and visitors.

Our Lady of the Pillar carriage inside the church prior to joining the procession.

St. Rita’s carriage was simply yet stunningly adorned with red roses.

The St. Martin Deporres carriage getting last minute final touches.

The Holy Infant Jesus is one of the most popular idols of worship in the Philippines.

San Lorenzo de Ruiz, patron saint of Binondo Church; first Filipino canonized as a saint.

St. James the Great carriage is one of the most dramatic carriages at the procession.

St. Peter Julian Eymard, the secondary patron of Sta. Cruz Church whose feast is on August 1st.

A handler for Senor San Jose’ carriage dealing with the low hanging wires with a pole.

St. Ignacio de Loyola was the tallest; a handler had to stand beside the image to lift the wires.

Our Lady of the Pillar carriage was at the end of the grand procession.

Devotees at the grand procession.

Some folks brought along their idols of worship from home to join the procession.

The band of young musicians’ rendition of Ave Maria was quite awe-inspiring.

Congressman Mark Jimenez handed out free rosaries to the crowd.

The most joyful bunch from the entire crowd of onlookers.

posted by Señor Enrique at 3:53 PM


Blogger Sidney said...

Nice journalistic series Eric. It seems I found my master! Excellent.

Who do you think will become the next Major of Manila? Do you think Mark Jimenez has a chance?

Sorry that I mix religion with politics but since I see that Jimenez is giving away rosaries for free... ;-)
Another example that one should never loose hope. Yesterday in the s**t, tomorrow maybe the major...

October 17, 2006 6:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always remember that fiesta ng Quiapo chaos when people are scrambling to get a hold of the patron.

BTW, I tried to use my Minolta MAxxum SLR and developed the pics straight to CD. Walmart charged me peanuts for it. I've got them on my blog. They're not bad actually!

October 17, 2006 7:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really nice pictures Eric and I love the way you covered what happened during the procession.


I am sure it was fun to be amongst the crowd of people walking through the whole event!

October 17, 2006 9:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful documentation with beautiful photos. thanks eric.

October 18, 2006 2:54 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Loved the shots ! :)

Geez, Jimenez... it's gonna be very interesting the Manila Mayor race. :)

October 18, 2006 5:27 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

i cringe when you refer to the statues as "idols of worship." i understand, though, that you're just stating facts: a manifestation of folk religiosity not really part of catholic church teachings.

October 18, 2006 12:56 PM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

It's worthwhile to consider Dave's observation and concern over the Senor's use of the word 'idol.' Protestants love to point out that Catholics sinfully "worship" idols using religious displays like you show here Mr. E. Perhaps some of the most unsophisticated of the faithful attach more than symbolism to the statues, but most do not, and properly look at the processional displays as mere carnate man-made reminders of their faith. What say you Senor?

October 19, 2006 12:04 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, what an entry! Thanks so much for this! I missed taking photos of this because I had to treat friends to a Binondo tour as it was my birthday.

All the more reason to visit this blog frequently.

October 19, 2006 9:02 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Master? You've got to be kidding, Sidney ... hahaha! Actually, I'm taking clues from your site :)

I wasn't even aware that Mark Jimenez is running for mayor. I've heard of Imelda's grandson Borgy, the model, who might also run.

Nonetheless, you've just given me an idea -- post photos of those officially running along with short bio.

I just hope that whoever wins pursues the ongoing revitalization programs started by Atienza.

I was asked, BW, by the person I was standing next to if I planned to take pictures of the upcoming Quiapo festival. Told him that I may lack the stamina and fortitude to immerse myself in such a huge crowd.

Ok, I'm excited to check out your pics and will do so in a bit!

Thanks, Kyels! This wasn't such a huge procession so it was fun to cover it :)

Thanks, Milkphish!

I don't know much about this guy, but I guess this is a good time to start, S.A.!

I know what you mean, Dave, but that's exactly what they are. Wow! I was always under the impression that these idols have always played significant roles in Catholicism -- but then again, I may be wrong :)

Honestly speaking, Phil, it was when I moved back here in Manila that I've once again taken more notice of our locals' fascination with idol worship. The Santo Nino and the Black Nazarene are among the prominent ones. Even business establishments have an altar with the Santo Nino and/or the three Chinese gods.

But then again, Catholicism was infused with paganism to gain public acceptance and this may explain the reason why idols have become a part of the Church, no?

Belated Happy Birthday, Anionymous! Did you take Ivan's tour? I was going to his Intramuros Walk tour today but it was cancelled.

October 22, 2006 12:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


you have a wondeful and educational blog! thanks for the post.

it is nice to note that the statue of San Ignacio de Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuits who established the Church in 1608. this brings us back to the history of the Church, its early and hu,ble beginnings as started by the Jesuit Fathers.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Br. RJ Orbeta, S.J.

October 26, 2006 5:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks for dropping by and posting a comment Br. RJ!

I plan to post another entry about Sta. Cruz and the Jesuits' running into jealousies from other orders.

If you happen to notice any erroneous or questionable trivia, kindly let us know . It will truly benefit me and all my readers because we are all merely students of our local history.

Again, thank you!

October 27, 2006 11:20 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Your pictures of the procession are wonderful! However, your use of the word "idol" is very inappropriate and insensitive to your fellow Filipinos and your fellow Christians. These images are intended to remind men and women of the great saints whom they represent and what they did in their lives to be good Christians. The Church forbids these images to be worshipped, hence should not be called idols. Please be more sensitive to the words you use.

April 24, 2007 2:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Parish Pastoral Council of Sta. Cruz Parish Manila would like to thank you for posting a blog about our fiesta procession in your site.

We hope that joining our fiesta celebration, especially the procession, have been a wonderful and spirit-filled experience for you.

We hope that you could join our fiesta celebtions in the future.

Thank you very much.

God Bless

Imelda 'Enda' Baria
Parish Information Officer
Parish Pastoral Council
Sta. Cruz Parish
sta. Cruz, Manila

October 20, 2008 3:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My pleasure, Imelda!

This past Sunday I had a family affair to attend to; hence, I missed this year's festivities, but will definitely do it again next October :)

October 21, 2008 10:03 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice docu... the image in carriage with the name St. Joseph, that is not St. Joseph, that was the image of Saint Francis

July 31, 2011 1:36 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile


This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.