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Precious plant at Shrine of Brown Madonna stolen

SELLOUM STOLEN. The giant selloum plant at the right most side at the entrance of the Shrine of Brown Madonna in Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet was stolen this week after it was relocated to the left corner beside the gate last Sunday so that a July 16, 1990 marker, which it blocks from view, made by the late Narciso Padilla will be seen again. Plant stealing is usually done at the shrine by some people and one of the problems of administrator Fritzgerald Padilla. He also complains of garbage being left by people who make the shrine as a picnic area and sometimes people make use of the water inside right before the statue itself to clean their mess leaving behind muck. Pigeon Lobien / RNG Luzon

TUBA, Benguet – With renovations finally finished at the Shrine of Brown Madonna at barangay Tadiangan here, another item has been stolen, said shrine administrator Fritzgerald Padilla.

This time, a newly transplanted decades old five-foot, six inch diameter selloum plant was taken from the shrine, Padilla told this writer Tuesday night.

The selloum plant was once located at the right side of the frontage of the shrine, but it has covered a three foot wide hole that holds a 30 year old marker, which is almost forgotten.

The slab like item is the late Narciso Padilla’s marker for those who helped in the rescue operations after the 1990 killer earthquake.

Almost forgotten, the wordings are almost undecipherable until it was cleaned.

“We had to relocate the selloum plant at the left side of the shrine’s frontage right before the gate so that the marker can be seen again,” said the younger Padilla. The left side hosts some benches and a small garden, the shrine’s signage, a 10-commandment marker and a mini-bridge. It is usually used by passers-by for picnic, who Padilla said, leave their trash behind.

Padilla have reported the plant robbery at the police station near the shrine.

“We replanted it last Sunday and probably was stolen yesterday (Monday). I reported it to the police at Tadiangan this morning (Tuesday). We have an initial suspect already,” he said.

The plant costs at least P10,000 to P15,000 in the market that may have caught the attention of the person or persons who took it. Plant stealing has become common during the year-long pandemic with planting as a fad that has resulted to the high cost of plants.

The five day renovation at the shrine started Tuesday last week with the aim to host a baptism mid-May particularly the Lucky Christmas and New Year’s Babies.

“It will be a small gathering due to the pandemic,” said Padilla counting about a dozen to less than 20 in attendance including the babies, their parents, the priest and a few guests.

Padilla said that a commemorative mass will be held at the shrine on July 26 in honor of the unnamed heroes who helped save lives during the temblor.

The young Padilla hopes to restart a regular mass at the shrine, which was done at least once a month when his father was still alive.

The veteran newsman Padilla died in March 5, 2019.

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