Carcar heritages


The Sta. Catalina church, the convent and the church records form part of the heritage of our town that needs our utmost care and preservation.  And I mean the utmost care because we cannot repeat it too often that each volume in the church office is the only such copy in the whole world. Add to those the cemeteries where are buried our ancestors and among them our great men and women. The Spanish term for the cemetery, campo santo — holy ground -– thus, it may not exactly be the place even for JLo to get loud.

The roster of Carcaranon priests is also evidence of the town traditions that include the encouragement of vocation. I so worry that there had not been an attempt to even make a list of Carcaranon priests for posterity.  Understandably, two or more towns or parishes may take possessive umbrage over a priest’s origin but, hey, a priest can have his father’s parish, and his mother’s, where he was baptized, the family’s more recent residence, and even where the parishes have been split up, and Carcar can share a priest as one of its own with five other parishes. Calling the Cebu Archdiocesan chancery!

I consider also as heritage the older chapel and their organizations in the town. The Catholic church in Carcar also owes its vibrancy not only on its truths but also to the traditions that the faithful through their chapels carry on annually, inculcate and then pass on to their children and grandchildren. A 1959 photograph of the Cogon chapel (San Vicente Ferrer) had a banner that read 1859-1959.  That’s a full centennial and thus may mean that the organization was formed even before work on the present church edifice.

The cofradia de San Jose (1883) of Luanluan is doing a magnificent job, carrying on the passing of tradition to its members. No one has told them this but those are heritage jobs they are heroically doing. The caro owner-families also, they have been paying their heritage dues.

South American accounts say the Spanish priests there were not too keen on the establishment of chapels, choosing to concentrate worship on the parish churches. Maybe it was more an administrative decision, or else it was based on the apprehension that chapels sprouting unsupervised also run the risk of sprouting all sorts of their own doctrines and superstitions.

I would venture to guess that our so-called barrio chapel organizations merely started as individual family  devotions which spread through a neighborhood and the icon was borrowed or transferred from home to home, a veritable forerunner of the block rosary. And from there the organization was a natural offshoot, maybe during the American period already.

There are two religious congregations founded in Carcar: the Siervas de Nuestra Señora de la Paz and the Daughters of Santa Teresa  (de Avila) in Valladolid, founded by Brother Ezequiel Barangan and Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, respectively.  Incidentally a cause for sainthood has been advanced each for Barangan and for Camomot.

The Theotokos in Perrelos started from scratch around 1992.  The scrounging was undertaken by Fr. John Roña. Marian devotion was celebrated every 13th of he month, and it snowballed when a “dancing” sun phenomenon was observed by hundreds of pilgrims celebrating early morning mass. It just happened that the phenomenon occurred for five times on the 13th and could be seen by everyone in the crowd.  Everybody who was present witnessed the events. But some church leaders and priests who were not there scoffed off the phenomenon as more of mass hysteria — which explanation is less than scientific at all and, in effect, only exaggerates the gift for hypnosis of the priest, Fr. Roña, if he has it at all.  Whatever, the archbishop then granted the site the title of archdiocesan shrine in 1996.

Rural communities still retain (I hope so) the religious practices that their grandparents handed down to them.  But if no longer, I hope some heritage mapper from somewhere in the past had taken down the Passion and Christmas songs of these folks. I miss the pastores. And Souls’ practices, still borrowing heavily on anito traditions. A video recording and notes-taking should be made of these rituals still going on. Perhaps we can then gain a little understanding why.


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