TUBA, Benguet – The Shrine of Brown Madonna in Tadiangan here is getting its needed facelift that will protect the eight foot statue from the weather as well as cleaning in time for a baptism ceremony next month.
Five months after named as the Lucky Christmas and New Year Babies – Psalm Francisco and Raiven Clyde Reopa Agruda – the Shrine might host its first baptism rites with the completion of the renovation.
Fritzgerald Padilla has started upgrade of the shrine with cleaning, removal of the moss, repainting of the structures within including the statue “to protect them from the weather”.
The 40 feet deep and 30 feet high tunnel has a natural spring causing moss to accumulate at the structures including the statue. Padilla said that repainting and addition of sealant to make it water resistant could preserve the statue which is now 35 years old.
“The skin tone should be as realistic as possible, a Filipino tone,” said Padilla, whose father, the late Narciso, envisioned the statue as a Filipina woman and was made after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
The comfort room at the private property across the street fronting the tunnel will also get a facelift.
“We want it renovated so it will be to the comfort of the users,” said the younger Padilla, who expects more pilgrims to the shrine especially during the pandemic.
“We want the lucky Christmas and new year’s babies to be baptized at the Shrine,” said Padilla, now the chairman of the organizing committee of the Silahis ng Pasko and the Shrine of Brown Madonna.
Baby Raiven was given gifts last January 5 at their rented pad at the Slaughter House. Baby Raiven’s 23-year old mother Jessica Reopa agreed to have her son baptized soon at the Shrine, when asked by Padilla.
Last December 29, Padilla rained gifts on baby Psalm, whose mother, Mildred, 25, is equally eager to have her son baptized at the Shrine along Kilometer 7 at Asin Road.
“We have been planning this since last year when we took over the running of the month-long Silahis which my father (Narciso) started more than 40 years ago,” admitted Padilla.
Raiven is the first child of Jessica and 27 year old dad Zaldy Agruda, a market employee, while Psalm is the second child of Mildred and her 33 year old husband, Wilmer, a market porter.
“It would be nice that we have Raiven and Pslam as the firsts of those to be baptized at the Shrine of Brown Madonna. Every year we can do that with the lucky babies,” said Padilla
The man-made tunnel that was intended to be a link to La Union from Baguio by the Americans during the early 20th century.
It was later used by the invading Japanese Imperial Army as a headquarters and abandoned when they fled the city as the American and their local allies liberated the city in 1945.
After the EDSA Revolution, Padilla started making the shrine with donations from friends including Archt. Gloria Vergara and husband Bernardo, who will serve Baguio as congressman and mayor.
Then shrine has been an introduction to the annual SnP and most of the program’s events are held at there.