Bicolano Zarzuela “Manto” staged in UST
Ina’s 300th year
Three centuries marked by strong faith and sincere devotion, the Bicolanos regarded the Our Lady of Peñafrancia not only as their patroness but also as their Ina. In order to mark their long-standing tradition of faith to the Virgin, a celebration commemorating her miracles and love to her people was organized. The Peñafrancia Tri-Centennial Inc., as headed by Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P. from the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres, was formed as the organizing committee for the commemoration. Processions, exhibits, and a theatrical presentation were prepared as part of the many activities for the celebration.
The miracles of Ina’s “manto”
Written and directed by Buboy Aguay, with the musical direction of Amelita P. Zaens, “Manto: Istorya nin Devocion” is a musical about the devotion of the Bicolanos to their Ina, the Our Lady of Peñafrancia. With the songs and dialogues entirely in the Bicolano dialect, it highlighted the spirituality of the region as reflected in their culture. Performers included the University of Nueva Caceres Glee Club and priests-actors Fr. Mario Gaite, Fr. Francis Tordilla, and Fr. Jay Jacinto. The musical presented faith as a journey on which two characters from different generations experienced.
The contemporary character Miguel’s story showed how faith is a journey that can, at times, be shaken by obstacles. He was a devotee who withdrew his faith to Ina when he lost his wife Merlita and son Poypoy on the accident that happened on the fluvial procession. From being a gentle and virtuous person he became a man who drowned himself in alcohol, blaming the Virgin for his misfortune. He then found himself reconnected to his faith when he found his son who turned out to be saved and was adopted by a woman.
Another story of conversion is that of the Spanish-era native from Naga, Absalon. A remontado (mountain people) who rejected the devotion to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia because of its Spanish origin, Absalon caused unhappiness to his mother Silay who continuously prayed for his conversion. He was later converted to faith after been healed by the Virgin’s cape called manto.
UST as part of the celebration
The University of Santo Tomas through the UST Theological Society assisted in the week-long festivity that started with the procession of the blessed image last August 23. A mass and imposition of Our Lady’s Manto on the sick took place a couple of days after the procession at the UST Chapel on August 25, 2010. The musical play “Manto: Istorya nin Devocion” that was first staged at the University of Sta. Isabel had its Manila premiere at UST last August 27 at the UST College of Medicine Auditorium. A solemn farewell mass for the image of our Lady was also organized on August 28 at the UST Chapel. By Mary Frances Rubio