Antipolo in May

We would leave the house at 4:00 a.m..

The sanctuary of “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje” Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo…

As a child, I had no idea that it was a Filipino tradition — patrician and pedestrian — that stretched back hundreds of years…


Felix Roxas y Fernandez, Mayor of Manila from 1905 – 1917,  gave us a very good idea of what a pilgrimage to Antipolo was like in the 1880s…

“”Pilgrimages to the Antipolo shrine have lost their primitive flavor to the modern means of transportation.  Twenty five years ago, we still felt enthusiasm over that typically Filipino trip, which was made in “bancas” up to Taytay, and from there to the previously rented house, in comfortable hammocks.  From the month of May on, ribbons would festoon the “bancas” moored at Colgante pier [ near the Quinta market ], announcing that the season to venerate Our Lady of Antipolo had begun.”

“Filipino families thought up complicated preparations for this amusing and interesting trip.  All — the young and old — would prepare different suits of “jusi” and “sinamay” for the length of their stay in those [ Antipolo ] hills.  Getting together all necessary provisions was, for each group, a serious and difficult matter.  They had to provide themselves with sleeping mats, bed linen, pillows, pots, huge frying pans, silverware and a complete kitchen battery; and forget about beds, tables, chairs, and wash-stands, since living would be done in the rustic manner, on the fresh and ventilated bamboo floors of the nipa huts.”

“On the date of departure, the “bancas” would wait since dawn in the selected embarkment point until their noisy passengers arrived; then the loading of passengers and their effects would begin.  Things were always forgotten or unprovided for, causing quick return trips in “calesas” and “carromatas” and the inevitable delays.  Once the trip began, each one would settle down in his designated place.   Then outbreaks of gaiety would occur, gladdening everyone.  Children would investigate all packages in search of sweetmeats, [ appetites would awaken from the very start of the trip ], young men seemed to feel their heartbeats quickening for their lady-loves, the elders would smile in anticipation of their pleasure over the afternoon “panguingue,” or card sessions; and the boatmen, contentedly thinking of their pay, would row near the Pasig’s banks to avoid its powerful currents.  The travelers would very curiously note and comment on the palatial houses of San Miguel district, of Malacanang with its balcony followed by a gigantic tree, Concordia College and Pandacan, the scene chosen by Rizal in his “Noli” [ 1 ] as the site for the novel’s romantic scenes; Dona Geronima’s Cave, pointed out by the children with fear of its macabre tradition; and Bangbang of Pasig, where a stop to rest the boatmen and travelers was a traditional must.  Philippine ceramics was extensively exhibited there.  Pedro Paterno would find such a variety of articles there, some rare pieces for his ceramics collection, which he would display to all visitors in his residence at 16 Sauco, Madrid.”

“Forty five minutes later, after the “Bitukang Manok” stream — where alms were asked of the travelers by means of rods and nets — one arrived in Taytay where there would be a general transfer.  A new transportation agreement would be worked out, complete with penny-saving haggling.  Quick-witted young men would finish the trip on horseback, either to display their horsemanship or to take advantage of the opportunity to keep near their beloved’s hammock, as if they were pages of bygone days escorting their ladies.  At dusk one would arrive in Antipolo.”

“The town would be alive and swarming with people: from its very outskirts, populated by Chinese and filled with the sound of cymbals, their peculiar “shouted” songs and the smell of the joss-sticks offered to Confucius while red candles were burning before the image of the town’s patron Saint, to the town’s centre, where smiling and talkative Manila acquaintances would greet one another in the midst of the noise created by the Cosmorama’s Organ, the guitars and the chanting of countless beggars scattered everywhere.  Upon arriving at the rented house, the travelers would hurriedly unpack their bags and “tampipis” [ 2 ] and rush to the sanctuary, to kneel before the image of the Blessed Virgin, brightly lit up by the flame of the innumerable candles constantly left there by the devout.”

“The old women left behind to attend to the housekeeping chores would prepare supper, which all would attack hungrily once they perceived the perfume  of those dishes adroitly flavored with cashew and alibangbang leaves.  Each family would manage, eat and sleep according to the facilities at hand:  let us, then, let down the curtains on them, leaving them in complete [ and discreet ] liberty, and wait until next morning when they would go to pray to the Blessed Virgin, and with them visit the church’s atrium, which constituted the true auditorium  of that pilgrimage-place and where all out-of-town pilgrims would meet with joy.””


1 ]  The site is presently occupied by the Republic Flour Mills  [ April 1970 ]

2 ]  “Tampipis” are local valises made of split bamboo.




  1. May 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Rev. Paguergan:

    The antique, 1880s print of “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje” Our Lady of Peace & Good Voyage/Our Lady of Antipolo was photographed in an ancestral house in Iloilo 20 years ago.

    Once in a blue moon, a similar print of Our Lady of Antipolo appears in the better antique shops in the city, albeit in deteriorated condition.

    Toto Gonzalez

  2. rev. ral paguergan said,

    May 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    hello po…i am ral paguergan…just want to know where could i have a copy of the painting of our lady of antipolo posted in this blog?

  3. Ria Alcover said,

    January 13, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Hello Sir,
    Thanks so much for the information. I stumbled upon your blog because i was searching for material on the Lady of Antipolo. I do hope its okay if i print this out and use it. i’ll be sure to put your website as source. Thanks. Ria

  4. Aurora T. Bang said,

    March 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Dear Mr. Gonzalez,
    It is so lovely to read this blog about the journey up to my hometown in the old days. My paternal grandmother used to tell stories of grand ladies from Manila (some of the surnames were mentioned in comment 175 on About Toto Gonzalez). According to Inang Nena, these families had summer homes in Antipolo…How I wish I could put up a blog like this and chronicle my family’s “story” which a daughter of my cousin said could be One Hundred Years of Solitude-ish!
    More power to your blog.
    Cheers from Norway!

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