The Story of Sta. Mesa in Manila: Our Lady of the Flood

In Manila there is a district called Sta. Mesa. According to Wikipedia, the name was derived from “Santa Mesa de la Misericordia”, the owner of the land during the Spanish colonial period, which was an “obra pía”, meaning “pious work”, and provided social services. If my guess is right, Sta. Mesa is a friar land or a land owned by a religious order in the Spanish times. The produce of the land–fruits, vegetables, or fish, for example–are sold and the money obtained is used for running schools, hospitals, social relief, etc. During the Philippine Revolution, the friars and the friar lands became the object of resentment by the Filipino revolutionaries. (Read a more objective account of the contributions of the friars to the development of the Philippines in the paper, “The Friar Problem in the Philippines“, by Vicenter R. Pilapil, The Americas, vol. 18, no. 2, Oct 1961, pp. 127-148)

When I was in elementary, I read a story of how Sta. Mesa got its name.  The story told that rain fell for days and the town was submerged in the flood, as what happened in Metro Manila last Saturday.  The people climbed to their upper rooms.  When they looked at the window, they saw a miraculous sight:   A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, standing on top of a table (mesa in Spanish), was floating along the streets-turned-waterways.  The people knelt and prayed.  The flood subsided.  And since that time the place was called Sta. Mesa or Holy Table.  This is as far as I can remember.  But the full name “Sta. Mesa de la Misericordia” or Holy Table of Mercy fits the story.

The cities of Marikina, Pasig, and Cainta in Manila are still submerged in the flood.  To them let us offer a Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen):

SALVE REGINA

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genetrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Priest: Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante praeparasti: da, ut cuius commemoratione laetamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Our Lady of the Flood, pray for us. Our Lady of Sta. Mesa de la Misericordia, pray for us. (Mary is not yet officially known by these titles.)

Note: The new St. Michael the Archangel’s Chapel in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, offers a votive mass for Our Lady every Saturday at 6:30 a.m. At the end of each mass, the Salve Regina is sung and the priest prays the words after Oremus. During first Saturdays, at 5:00 a.m., a priest leads the procession around the army officer’s village. The rosary is prayed. The mass starts at 6:00 a.m. St. Michael the Archangel Chapel belongs to the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines. There are two St. Michael Chapels in Fort Bonifacio. The new and the old. The old is near Guadalupe. The new is beside Bayani Road leading to Libingan ng mga Bayani.

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