When someone mentions about family tradition, almost instantly, only one thing comes to mind. Holy Week usually falls in either March or April, and as soon as it is over, I oftentimes find myself asking my father when we will drive to Antipolo to commemorate the feast of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage) which is a month-long celebration every May. We have been going to Antipolo for this reason for as long as I can remember. According to my father, it’s been a tradition of theirs since they were kids. My grandfather influenced him and even his siblings to pass it on from their generation to ours. Even when we moved further down south, we still made extra effort to at least go there on the last Sunday of the month.
Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is well-known as patronage of travellers and sailors/seafarers. From what I remember, all our cars had been blessed here, too, despite having already blessed in Manila. I don’t know what exactly makes me excited about going there, but I sure am always looking forward to our trip. We would leave the house early, and arrive there by noon. Through the years, we’ve witnessed how the church and its surroundings changed. What used to be a mini market full of stalls selling kasuy (cashew) and suman (steamed sticky rice rolls; similar to Thailand’s famous sticky rice, except it’s dipped in white sugar instead of coconut milk) was turned into a parking lot. The following year, the same area was turned into a mini plaza (city square), then eventually reverted back into a parking lot. Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t change is the church’s interior—ever magnificent with its golden altar. The patron of this church is housed in a glass chamber atop the altar which cannot only be seen during mass, but can also be viewed up close.
Coming from a conservative and practicing Catholic family, visiting this church has always been an opportunity for thanksgiving. Masses are observed every hour to allow devotees like us to participate on their thanksgiving mass. Right after the mass, we would go behind the church to light candles as offering for our petitions, and queue up for a chance to see Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage up close, and get to kiss her mantle for reverence. As soon as you enter into the room, an exhibit full of the dresses, crowns, and accessories Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage has worn over the years. The church’s history can also be found plastered on the walls to satisfy one’s curiosity and interest.
This is a family tradition that we have been observing over the years, and we make time on doing so no matter how busy our schedules are. There is something about such family tradition that I wouldn’t miss for the world. Of course, our trip to Antipolo will never be complete without leaving with a bag (or bags) full of kasuy (plain or Adobo-flavored) and suman we would consume on our way home. More often than not, nothing is left to snack on the following day.
I will surely miss this family tradition when I finally move to the US with my husband. What’s yours?