The houses of formation of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Lipa were once more privileged to be led by Señor Guillermo Gomez Rivera along the streets of Quiapo, a sort of oasis where millions of people gather to visit and identify themselves with the Suffering Christ.

Quiapo was once a Parian or the settlement allotted for the Chinese Christians. The Galleon Trade attracted some Chinese merchants to settle at the newly-established Filipinas for the Galleon Trade. They later embraced the Catholic Faith and had missionaries to take care of them. With this scenario, the Galleon Trade transformed the place into a bustling business district.

The Galleon Trade not only brought Filipinas economic benefits, but above all a lively faith. Among its passengers who settled in Quiapo is the famous Señor Jesus Nazareno. Quiapo is now synonymous with the annual procession of the revered image of Christ carrying his cross towards the Calvary. It attracts more than five million people to the procession that commemorates its transfer from an earlier church in Luneta to its present site.

Some people enter the church on their knees in order to approach their Suffering Savior, who at the same time was the founder of the Filipino Nation: for out of adoration of his Holy Name that our nation was born. One just have to consider how deep was the influence of the Spanish missionaries to our way of living. Here in Quiapo, even the most humble peasant recognize the sovereignty of the King of the Universe.

And Spain even developed Filipino cuisine. We stopped by Excelente Ham for lunch. Formerly known as jamon chino español, the traditional Spanish smoked ham suited to the Filipino taste is still produced here. It is still one of the sought after hamon, especially during the Christmas season. How we should raise our kucharas and tinidors and admit that even Mother Spain has influenced our eating habits!

The present owner, Ate Nini Ong welcomed us into her store and everything was transformed into a quasi-fiesta banquet, featuring the Excelente Hamon.

Then we made our way to Don  Jose Ocampo pagoda, a mansion built shortly before the Second World War.  It is a concrete example of a cultural gem that is as usual, forgotten. It has now become a monument of neglect and of the majority’s neglect of the real heroes of the Filipino History.

Our Quiapo tour ended as we made our way to Intramuros for the Grand Marian Procession. Señor joined the procession and shared his experiences as a young boy, when Intramuros was piece of Europe in Asia, a crowning jewelry, a beautiful city only to be destroyed by birds of prey.

What was left for the next Filipino generations were scraps of the past with a history distorted to promote anti-Christian ideologies. May under the powerful mantle of the Immaculate Conception, a new army of Filipinos would rise up and create a new society, a Christian Filipino society, the one we used to have.

Quiapo after the ‘Liberation’ of Manila, 1945.