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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No to Renaming of EDSA to Cory Aquino Avenue

Senator Manuel Roxas II said he will file on Monday a bill seeking to rename EDSA to Cory Aquino Avenue

Sa tuwing mababanggit ang EDSA, iisa ang naiisip nating mga Pilipino: ang People Power ni Tita Cory. Nararapat lamang na i-alay natin sa kanyang alaala ang daang nagpakilala sa kanya sa buong mundo (Whenever we hear of EDSA, one thing always comes to the mind of Filipinos: the People Power led by President Cory. It is but fitting to offer in her memory the road that had made her famous all over the world)” (GMA News.TV)

To this proposal by Senator Roxas, I say NO.  NO, not because I do not like Cory Aquino–I admire her, especially her devotion to the rosary.  NO, not because people may think that Sen. Roxas would like to capitalize on the  symphathy and admiration of the Filipino people for Cory in his bid for the Presidency in the 2010 elections.  And NO, not because I do not like change, for I am for it if it is for the good (but not the CHANGE of the pro-abortion Pres. Obama).

I say no for three reasons:

1.  Cory Aquino Avenue (formerly EDSA) will become indistinguishable from the many roads that will be changed to Cory Aquino avenues in the whole Philippines.  In my hometown in Bacolod City, we have this Narra drive changed to Ninoy Aquino Drive.  And there is also a corner called “Bangga Cory.”  And soon, we will have many roads named Aquino.  Indeed the more prominent the person, the more roads it is named after.  Can anyone tell me how many Bonifacio and Rizal roads and highways there are?  But EDSA is unique, because Epifanio de los Santos, who once was called the “Great among the Great Filipino Scholars,” is obscure to us modern Filipinos who have lost our Spanish tongue.  Thus, no other avenue will be most likely named EDSA.  (A trivia: there is a narrow walk in Ateneo de Manila University named EDSA).

2.  EDSA evokes “People Power” as Mendiola evokes “massacre”. EDSA is the scene of the first People Power that ousted a dictator not by tanks and bullets but by prayers and flowers.  EDSA is a scene of the second People Power that ousted an actor from the highest post in the land, with everything covered in televsion from the gripping court trial to the boat farewell from Malacanang.  And EDSA is the scene of the third People Power that failed.  The People Power is the EDSA Revolution.

But what does Cory Aquino Avenue evoke?  A road in Hacienda Luisita?  A road near Ninoy Aquino International Airport?  Cory Aquino Avenue has no meaning in the same way as Marichu R. Tinga (MRT) Avenue in Taguig City has no meaning.  Maybe MRT Avenue is the better name for EDSA Avenue, since MRT (Metro Rail Transit) train spans EDSA.  But MRT Avenue is actually the new name of Bayani Road (Hero’s Road) that leads to Libingan ng mga Bayani (Grave of the Heroes) in Fort Bonifacio.  If you want to get lost in Fort Bonifacio, look for MRT Avenue.

Road naming is a sign of power, as naming of animals by Adam is a sign of his dominion over them.  When the communists came to power in Russia, they renamed all the old roads associated with the Emperor or the Tsar into those of Lenin and Stalin.  Leningrad was formerly named St. Petersburg, being founded by Peter the Great (1703);  Stalingrad was Tsaritsyn.  So let us be cautious in changing the names of our roads; otherwise, we lose our sense of history.

3.  EDSA means Epifanio de los Santos or Epiphany of the Saints. So what more apt name can you describe the events that happened at EDSA during the People Power revolution?  Everybody is praying, praying, and praying.  All the Juan de la Cruz of the Philippines are praying in their darkest hour  (St. John of the Cross is Carmelite mystic and Spain’s national poet who wrote the Dark Night of the Soul).  Like the persistent widow in Christ’s parable, we prayed and God heeded our prayers.  EDSA is a miracle.  EDSA is truly the epiphany of the saints.