Calle Santa Potenciana


Santa Potenciana in the mosaic of the apse of her basilica in Rome (photo: Marcus Cyron).

Today is the feast day of Saint Pudenciana or Santa Potenciana, one of the earliest patron saints of our country. A traditional Christian saint and martyress from the second century, Santa Potenciana was, according to Sacred Tradition, a daughter of a Roman senator turned saint who was mentioned in the Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:21). Unfortunately, when the General Roman Calendar was revised in 1969, her name was excluded, a casualty of the Second Vatican Council. Nevertheless, her 4th-century basilica in Rome still stands and is in fact considered there as a national church for Filipinos.


Basilica di Santa Pudenziana (photo:

Santa Potenciana Street, one of the oldest —if not the oldest— in Intramuros, Manila was named after her when the Walled City (back then the original Manila) was taken by Miguel López de Legazpi in the name of King Felipe II of Spain on her feast day. The following photo (taken on 23 January 2011) shows my then 10-year-old daughter Krystal behind San Agustín Church’s back wall.


“May 19 is the feast of St. Potenciana, who was therefore proclaimed the patroness of Manila. St. Potenciana was an early Roman Christian who died a virgin. When Legazpi laid out the map of Manila, one of the streets was named after her, a street that still exists (Nick Joaquín, Manila, My Manila).”

Notice the original street sign of Sta. Potenciana melded to the wall above the new one? It is fading, barely discernible, but still exists up to this very day.

Go visit the Walled City after the quarantine and take photos of this precious street sign before it vanishes for good. Because like what happened to the saint’s name after Vatican II, this ancient street sign might totally disappear especially since authorities have this penchant of being reckless when it comes to heritage preservation.

Santa Potenciana, ruega por Filipinas.

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Exaltation is the norm

During the Spanish times, Filipinos were usually named after the feast day of saints whom, or religious events that, they share their birthday with. It was, in fact, the usual practice throughout all Hispanized/Catholicized territories (note: it was not a strict religious norm). For example, girls who were born on September 4 were baptized as Consolación because the feast day of Our Lady of Consolation falls on that date. Those who are named Rosario have October 7 for their birthdate, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. Andrés Bonifacio was named as such because he was born on November 30, the feast day of Saint Andrew. Long even after Spain had left our islands, or during the US occupation, Filipinos still followed the practice.

My paternal grandfather, Godofredo Alas, was born on 8 November 1925, on the feast day of San Godofredo, Bishop of Amiens, France. My name, which is even loftier because it was taken from the parents of our Lord and Savior, was given to me by my grandmother, Norma Évora-Alas. Today, May 3, is her birthday. Which led me to think: is there a connection between her name and today’s feast day?


Norma Évora vda. de Alas (3 de mayo – 30 de enero de 2011).

May 3 is the traditional feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross which commemorates the cross used in the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior. The name Norma is Spanish for rule or norm. Hardly any connection, one might say. However, while browsing for gospel readings in connection to today’s feast day, I stumbled upon Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians (6:14-16):

14 But as for me, it is out of the question that I should boast at all, except of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

15 It is not being circumcised or uncircumcised that matters; but what matters is a new creation.

16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this as their rule and to the Israel of God.

The above verses are better read with 2:19 – 3:7 and 13–14 for more context.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps my grandmother’s parents (Paulo Évora and Rafaela Bonilla) must have had other ideas in thinking up of a name for her. But I couldn’t stop teasing myself of the Biblical connection. After all, the Epistle to the Galatians dealt with the controversy between the laws (norma) of Moses and that of our Lord and Savior as well as an emphasis on the Holy Cross (1:1–10 and 6:11–18).

Furthermore, Filipinos of yore were deeply devout Catholics. Unlike today, many of their activities were always hinged upon things spiritual, including the naming of children. Such a practice was not done out of a whim as Filipinos today tend to do. It is now common to Anglicize the first names of their children. Worse, many parents today give some of the most bizarre names to their children just to make people think how uniquely creative they are.

Moving on. Today’s date, incidentally, is also the traditional feast day of my family’s adoptive city, San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna, now referred to by its Anglicized and coarse appellation: the City of San Pedro, Laguna. When we first moved here in 2004, San Pedro, then still a municipality, was already celebrating its feast day every February 22, and it had been that way for many decades. But when I started delving into its history, I found out (through interviews with its senior citizens) that its grandest fiesta was celebrated every May 3, the traditional feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It only makes sense because our young city’s most prized historico-religious relic is none other than the fabled Cross of Tunasán, a huge wooden cross made popular when José Rizal made it a victim of his anti-Catholic sarcasm in his novel Noli Me Tangere. The cross was said to be miraculous — it used to be a small crucifix but grew big overtime (could that explain the metal bars attached to all its three upper points, to keep it from growing any further?).


La antigua Cruz de Tunasán (que se encuentra dentro de la iglesia de nuestra parroquia) es uno de los íconos más famosos de mi ciudad adoptiva.

In the past, the Cross of Tunasán was visited in droves by devotees far and wide every May 3, and the old town plaza fronting the parish church was in merriment from sundown to sunset. The town’s best and brightest were also recognized and awarded during the festivities. I just haven’t figured out yet as to why the devotion to this cross suddenly dwindled, and when exactly.

In 2018, for the first time in many years, San Pedro Tunasán’s traditional fiesta was highlighted once more when the city government under Mayor Lourdes S. Catáquiz and then parish priest Fr. Pablo Búgay decided to move the city fiesta (its secular name is Sampaguita Festival) from February 22 to May 3. Hopefully, this calendarial revival would resuscitate old pieties and devotion.

As for me, my heart is gladdened that the feast day of my family’s place of exile is somewhat connected to my beloved grandmother’s name. Because of that, I am reassured that I am at home with her, at least in spirit.

Qué su alma descanse en paz eterna. ¡Feliz fiesta de la exultación de la Santa Cruz (de Tunasán)!

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Today in Filipino History: the founding of UST

TODAY IN FILIPINO HISTORY — 28 April 1611: Manila Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P. establishes the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario (College of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary) which years later evolved into the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomás (La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino).

Seal of the University of Santo Tomas.svg

The Dominican-run Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario was later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomás (College of Saint Thomas) in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), patron saint of Catholic schools and one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. Its first campus was then located within the ancient walls of Intramuros, the original Manila. After receiving a Royal Charter from King Felipe III of Spain in 1611, the school was elevated to university status (pontifical university) by Pope Innocent X on 20 November 1645.

The first courses offered were canon law, theology, philosophy, logic, grammar, the arts, and civil law. In 1871, degrees in Medicine and Pharmacy were offered. One of its noted medical students was José Rizal.

At the onset of 20th century, the Dominicans were given a 21.5-hectare plot of land at the Sulucan Hills in Sampáloc, Manila. It was there where they built a new campus in 1927 which is the site of today’s UST; the original site in Intramuros was totally destroyed during the last days of World War II.

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With well-known travel/art blogger Glenn Martínez (right) of Traveler On Foot, taken last 24 November 2018 in front of the Miguel de Benavides Monument at the UST campus in Sampáloc. This bronze monument, made in honor of UST’s founder, was made in Paris and miraculously survived World War II.

Many of UST’s students, professors, and alumni have become saints and clergymen (Saint Lucas del Espíritu Santos, Msgr. Zeferino González, Fr. José Burgos), national heroes (Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Antonio Luna), presidents (José P. Laurel, Diosdado Macapagal), chief justices (Cayetano Arellano, Andrés Narvasa), and National Artists (Ernani Cuenco, Juan Nákpil).

In 2011, UST celebrated 400 years of existence. It is the oldest university not only in Filipinas but in all of Asia. It is much older than Harvard University  (oldest university in the US), Child & Co. (oldest bank in the UK), Sobrino de Botín (oldest restaurant in the world), the British Museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Juan Ponce Enrile, and many other centuries-old institutions and establishments.

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Domingo de Pascua

¡Alegraos, porque el Señor ha resucitado!

L’Angelo annuncia la resurrezione di Gesù Cristo alle pie donne” (fresco) por Fra Giovanni Angelico.

¿Qué se celebra el Domingo de Resurrección? El Domingo de Resurrección, también llamado Domingo de Gloria, Domingo de Pascua, Pascua Florida o sencillamente Pascua, es la fiesta central del cristianismo, en la que se celebra la resurrección de Jesucristo al tercer día de haber sido crucificado.

El Domingo de Resurrección marca el final del Triduo Pascual y de la Semana Santa, e inaugura un periodo litúrgico de 50 días conocido como Tiempo Pascual, que finaliza con el Domingo de Pentecostés.

La Resurrección es un elemento indispensable de la religión cristiana, hasta el punto que San Pablo escribe: “Si Cristo no hubiera resucitado, vana sería nuestra fe” (primera carta a los Corintios 15, 14). La palabra Pascua, etimológicamente, significa ‘paso’: el paso de Jesucristo de la muerte a la vida.

Leer más en Europa Press.

¡Felices Pascuas!

Sábado de Gloria

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Pietà” (escultura en mármol de Carrara) por Michelangelo.

El Sábado de Gloria es un día de luto por la muerte de Jesús y este es el motivo por el que recibe este nombre… En la Biblia, se define al Sábado Santo como “Sábado de Gloria” porque es el segundo día del llamado Triduo Pascual que concluye con las segundas vísperas de Domingo de Resurrección.

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Viernes Santo

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“Cristo Crucificado” (pintura al óleo) por Diego Velázquez.

El Viernes Santo es el día durante el cual se conmemora la pasión y muerte de Jesucristo en la cruz. Según señala la Iglesia Católica, en este día Jesús entregó su cuerpo y derramó su sangre para el perdón de los pecados y para la salvación de los hombres.

Lean más en RPP Noticias.

Jueves Santo

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L’ultima cena” (pintura al óleo) por Benedetto Caliari.

Como Jueves Santo se conoce la festividad cristiana que celebra la última cena de Jesús de Nazaret con sus discípulos, la institución de la eucaristía y del orden sacerdotal, así como el lavatorio de pies.

Como tal, toda la cristiandad, tanto la Iglesia católica como las otras iglesias cristianas, conmemora el Jueves Santo con procesiones y celebraciones eucarísticas.

El Jueves Santo tiene lugar durante la Semana Santa, el jueves anterior al Domingo de Pascua o de Resurrección.

Con el Jueves Santo acaba la Cuaresma y se inicia el Triduo Pascual, es decir, el periodo en que se recuerda la pasión, muerte y resurrección de Jesús, que se extiende del Jueves Santo al Sábado Santo.

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Miércoles Santo

Tradimento di Giuda” (fresco) por Giotto di Bondone.

El miércoles santo Jesús no acudió al Templo. Permaneció en Betania en una vigilia de oración. Todo lo que había de decir, lo ha dicho. La revelación de su identidad es clara. La denuncia del pecado también. Las posiciones de los importantes también están definidas.

Cristo les dice: “Sabéis que de aquí a dos días será la Pascua, y el Hijo del Hombre será entregado para ser crucificado”(Mt). Hay presciencia en Jesús. Sabe lo que va suceder, sabe el día y la hora. No le será ahorrado el desconocimiento previo, o la esperanza de que el dolor va ser menor. Lo sabe todo. Es consciente de que los clavos van a atravesar su carne, sabe que su cuerpo va ser flagelado, escupido, deshonrado y, por fin, llegará una muerte cruel. Lo sabe, y no huye, porque esa afrenta va a ser convertida en un sacrificio en el que Él va a ser sacerdote y víctima. Va a pedir al Padre el perdón para todos, pero lo va a pedir pagando el precio de justicia de todos los pecados. Va ser un verdadero sacrificio expiatorio, como lo simbolizaba el animal que soltaban los sacerdotes que llevaba sobre sí los pecados del pueblo. Pero ahora no va ser un símbolo, sino una realidad. El peso de todos nuestros pecados va a caer sobre Él. Jesús va a ser el inocente que paga por los pecados de aquellos a quienes ama. De esta manera se manifiesta una misericordia que tiene en cuenta la justicia.

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Martes Santo

Bacio di Giuda (o Cattura di Cristo)” (fresco) por Giotto di Bondone.

El Martes Santo continúan las celebraciones de la Semana Santa cristiana, que conforme va acercándose los días de los principales cultos (Jueves y Viernes Santo) siguen su reflexión acerca de diversos pasajes de la Pasión, Muerte y Resurrección de Jesús de Nazaret… En el Evangelio del Martes Santo , Jesús anticipa a sus discípulos la traición de Judas…

Lean más en CZN Mundo.




Lunes Santo

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“Expulsión de los mercaderes del Templo” (pintura al óleo) por El Greco.

El día después del Domingo de Ramos, que relata la entrada triunfal de Jesús a Jerusalén, la fe católica rememora el pasaje famoso en el cual Jesús expulsa a los mercaderes del templo.

En el Evangelio según San Juan, Jesús visita el Templo de Herodes, en cuyo patio vendían “bueyes, ovejas y palomas” en un clima comercial parecido a la idea contemporánea del mercado, con presencia además de “los cambistas allí sentados”. Ante el escenario, narra el joven apóstol de Jesús que su maestro “empezó a echar a quienes estaban comprando y vendiendo cosas allí. Derribó las mesas de los que cambiaban dinero y las bancas de los que vendían palomas”. San Juan especifica que “hizo un látigo de cuerdas y echó a todos del área del templo”.

Lean más en Diario de Pasión.