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The Ber Months for Nars Padilla

ALPHA AND OMEGA. The "Grumpy Old Men" of local media, the late Narciso Padilla, left, and Gerry Evangelista who lead the media Octoberfest celebration as they both celebrate their birthdays on October. Evangelista, the alpha, on October 1, while Padilla, the omega, is born on October 31. They too share a lot of laughters and anecdotes especially stories during their younger days which they share to younger media people.

September is one of the busiest months for the late Narciso Padilla.

It is one of the four months where he scheduled various activities that have contributed to the fanfares of the city. It was also a reminder to look back at the past of the city and thank those who helped shape it to what it is now.

By July, Mang Nars, as we fondly called him, would be a busybody and hanker us younger media guys to cover his events which starts with the Fil-Am Friendship Day commemoration on July 4. “For me, Independence Day will always be July 4,” said the former councilor and one time tourism officer of the city. And so he makes his rounds in the city and offer bouquet and prayers at the Fil-Am Friendship Park between the University of the Philippines – Baguio campus and his alma mater, the Baguio City High School.

Starting 1991, July 16, has become a red letter day for the old man as he goes around the city and offer prayers in places which were leveled by the temblor, actually for those who died there and culminate it with an event at the Shrine of the Brown Madonna in Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet.

A lull in August, which he uses to prepare, then September comes and Mang Nars is his usual self again, be the “slave driver” that he was, as per Samuel Bautista in a jest during the earlier years of the Fil-Am Golf media at the Baguio Country Club. The old man, hustling us younger media guys to work faster and cover as many events as possible – be like him.

September 1 is Baguio Day, which is dedicated to the “Father of Baguio”, justice George Malcolm. It is followed by the birthday commemoration of Lyman Kennon on September 2, Daniel Burnham’s birthday on September 4 and the death anniversary of Kennon on September 9. Mang Nars was able to pay tribute to the Kennon Road builder – his 100th death anniversary – on Sept. 9, 2018, his last since he died on March the following year.

Every 8th of September, Mang Nars would ferry down to Tuba for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Marymas.

For the next three weeks, Mang Nars would apparently rest, but then it was the calm for another storm as October is another busy day for the one time Baguio Tech basketball player known for his ”bakawil” shot, a sort of lay-up but with a literal twist.

October 4 is the anniversary of the Shrine of Brown Madonna, a project started after the EDSA Revolution in 1986 and when in one trip from Asian and on his way back in Baguio, the former Gintong Alay camp director saw a vision of the Virgin Mary where the shrine now stands.

It took years before Mang Nars “completed” the shrine starting with the eight foot statue which he had carved in Laguna. The statue’s outfit which son Fritz said is color coded for certain occasions and that which now escapes him – what dress and cape would the statue have on like say, the anniversary feast.

The altar for instance was moved at the right side corner of the cave, the station of the cross, which is made of cement, a copy and replacement of the wooden type that he brought home due to the moist and water that seep inside the cave, occupy the walls on the side.

There are 10 benches that serve as pew for worshippers and there is the seven feet high gate to protect the shrine from “intruders”, many scale it to get inside the shrine.

The frontage has a small park, and some benches as well, where people could sit during visits or when mass is celebrated their.

Renovations were introduced, including repainting of the benches and the bridge as well as the barrier at the foot of the statue which were done last June there as Fritz sees a very busy second semester at the shrine.

Fritz said that he wanted an October 4 anniversary mass at the shrine but due to the surge in Covid cases in both Baguio and Benguet, it was moved to another date.

Also, October is the birthday of the old man.

At some time, Mang Nars staged the sports and senior citizen awards, now the KISLAP and TALA, on October, since it is the month for the both Scouts and elderlies with them being city officials on the first two Mondays of the month.

The 2016 senior citizen mayor for the day has since moved both awards to December 30 and now part of the month-long Silahis ng Pasko celebration.

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