“Whatever you do, think not of yourself but of God“
– St. Vincent Ferrer
Even though I studied in Catholic schools, I must admit that I haven’t heard much about St. Vincent Ferrer. That was until I heard the news that the municipality of Bayambang in Pangasinan was building not only a statue but a monument that might even earn a spot at the Guinness Book of World Records.
Now whenever the province of Pangasinan is mentioned, most people, especially those who are Catholic would immediately think of Manaoag and its very popular church– The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag.
Ask anyone who has a bought a new car and they’d probably tell you that they drove it first to Manaoag Church to have it blessed. It has become a popular year-round pilgrimage site for people who are looking for some help and maybe even some divine intervention.
In the next few weeks, however, Catholics and other devotees, could add the municipality of Bayambang in Pangasinan to their pilgrimage destinations as the city unveils the St. Vincent Ferrer statue and prayer park for residents and tourists.
Who is St. Vincent Ferrer?
So why does the town think he deserves such a tribute?
Saint Vincent Ferrer is known as one of the greatest saints of the Holy Catholic Church. They say few saints have been more gifted in speech and none have performed as many miracles. Born in Valencia, Spain on January 23, 1350, St. Vincent was said to be performing miracles even “in utero’ or before he was born.
The story goes that his mother visited a blind woman she often helped. The lady placed her head on the mother’s womb to hear the baby’s heart beat and was instantly healed of her blindness! The entire city was quite animated at his birth and their town square argument over his name had to be settled by the local bishop who recommended he share the name of the city’s patron saint (St. Vincent of Zaragosa, a third century martyr). Before St. Vincent was three months old, Valencia was struck by a terrible famine. The infant spoke in a perfectly intelligible manner to his mother, informing her that all the townspeople needed to carry a venerated statue in procession about the city to end the famine. No sooner had the procession begun than rain began to fall and the famine was broken.
St. Vincent was gifted with great intelligence and even more profound piety. He joined the Dominican Order and was soon teaching and preaching all over Spain. His fame spread far and wide on account of his erudition, preaching, and holiness. During his time, Christendom was split between two rival popes (the Great Western Schism) yet the saint was honorably received in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy.
In his last twenty years, St. Vincent Ferrer carried out the apostolate of a itinerant missionary preacher. Going all over Europe a dozen times, Spain, France, Switzerland, the Low countries and Lombardy, he stressed the need for repentance. He was known for his preaching and successfully converted many thousands of people and his humility. He was also known for his gift of healing; cripples walked, the mute spoke and the blind were able to see. St. Vincent fell ill with fever and died in 1419.
It is because of his life’s work St. Vincent Ferrer became the patron saint of engineers and builders because of his fame for “building up” and strengthening the Church: through his preaching, missionary work, in his teachings, as confessor and adviser. SOURCE
WHERE IS BAYAMBANG?
Bayambang, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Pangasinan, located at the southern tip of Pangasinan.
It was founded in the 16th century by Agalet, an Aeta and was the 5th capital of the Philippines during the 1st Philippine Republic under the revolutionary government of General Emilio Aguinaldo. Bayambang is the seat of the Pangasinan State University, the Colleges of Nursing and Education.
The town’s vast territory used to include Bautista town, where the Philippine National Anthem was written by Jose Palma, and Camiling town (now a part of Tarlac), the home of Jose Rizal’s inspiration for Maria Clara, Leonor Rivera, and the birthplace of former UN General Assembly President Carlos P. Romulo.
The name of the town, according to the legend, came from the name of a plant called balangbang. As years passed by, the plant became extinct but the name “Bayambang” was retained and was given to designate the town. Historically, Bayambang was made as the last capital of the Republic by General Emilio Aguinaldo when he fled north to escape from the pursuing Americans during the Filipino and American War.
Originally called Balunguey or Malunguey, the town was established in 1614, the same year that the local parish named after Bayambang’s revered patron St. Vincent Ferrer was founded. What was initially a visita of Binalatongan (the current San Carlos City) only became an independent vicariate in 1619.
Setting another World Record
Inspired by the devotion of Bayambanguenos to their patron saint, the municipality attempts to set new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Tallest bamboo sculpture (supported) in time for the 400th founding anniversary of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Bayambang, Pangasinan and the 600th death anniversary of its patron saint, St. Vincent Ferrer.
When completed, the tallest image of St. Vincent Ferrer will have a physical height of 51 meters and will be located at the St. Vincent Ferrer Park in Barangay Bani, part of the 67-hectare soon-to-be-developed new town of Bayambang.
”We are creating a landmark for people to remember and for Bayambang to be recognized all over the world,” Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao said during a recent meet up with media.
Guinness World Records Adjudicator Ms. Solvej Malouf will arrive to adjudicate the attempt for a new record title.
The iconic statue of St. Vincent Ferrer is made of bamboo-engineered wood for its panels. The bamboo used is called Moso (or Mao), which grows for five to seven years in managed forests free of pesticides, herbicides and other toxic chemicals. After harvesting, the bamboo goes through a number of different stages before the finished product. Structural frames are attached as support to the sculpture.
”The statue can be considered an architectural wonder since it is the tallest polygonal sculpture made of bamboo and steel,” informs Architect Jerry Suratos of 105 Builders. ”The polygonal design also presents an art of modernism.
Polygons display a better quality and appearance similar to the real image of St. Vincent Ferrer, according to Architect Suratos. ’”The chosen material, the bamboo, is a popular choice in architecture and design projects, because of its sustainable qualities and hardwearing characteristics.
Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than concrete or wood, and rivals the tensile strength of steel.”
The major proponents in the construction and building of the statue are JQS Builders, Far East Industrial Supply and Co., Inc (FIESCO), RAA -Architects, Engineers and Consultancy Services and the Palafox Architecture and Associates.
Bayambang, the once a sleepy town first conquered the world and placed the municipality on the map, as it set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD title for the Longest barbecue at 8 kilometers (breaking the previous record set by Turkey).
The St. Vincent Ferrer Parish is now busy preparing for various church activities and formation program for the Jubilee celebration, with the theme: ”God’s Unending Love, Grace and Mercy.”
At 3 pm. on March 27, the first day of the nine-day novena, a Holy Door at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish granted by the Vatican in Rome, will be ceremoniously opened by Most Rev. Soc Villegas, 0.0.
For pilgrims who will pass through the door, they may gain the indulgences attached with the Jubilee celebration.
On the feast of St. Vincent Ferrer on April 5, a grand thanksgiving and fiesta mass will be celebrated at 3 pm. A grand procession will follow at 5 pm.
Thousands of church supporters, devotees and religious organizations are anticipated to join the grand procession, with 42 beautifully adorned carozas of different patron saints of the barangay churches and parishes under the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish. The grand procession will be a meaningful and historic religious event, as participants express their faith in holiness of a human person as exemplified by St. Vincent Ferrer.
Other highlights of the unveiling are the 400 voices to sing the Jubilee theme song, a hightechnology 30 video mapping of the life story of St. Vincent Ferrer and the live performance of certified hitmaker and top concert performer, Erik Santos.
The Jubilee celebration is one of the main events of Bayambang’s week long town fiesta, presented by Kasama Kita Sa Barangay Foundation, Inc and the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish.
The municipal government of Bayambang, Pangasinan, led by Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao, is also celebrating its 405th town fiesta this April 1 to April 8. The grand and colorful event highlights the Parish Jubilee which will happen on April 1.
The eight-day affair is filled with various activities in line with this year’s theme “Bayang Pinagtibay ng Pagkakaisa at Pananampalataya Laban sa Kahirapan: 400 Taon ng Pagpapala ng Parokya ni San Vicente Ferrer.”
“When we plan for our town fiesta, we always have the best interest of the Bayambanguenos in mind. We really went all out for this year’s celebration because we want to spread joy and love to Bayambanguenos and to our guests from other towns,” said the Mayor’s wife Nina Jose-Quiambao who personally oversees the construction of the statue and devotes time to attending meetings regarding fiesta activities anti preparations for the unveiling of the statue on April 5.
On April 1, a grand revelry kicks off the celebration at dawn around the main street of Poblacion followed by a thanksgiving Mass, Grand Parade, and Opening Program. At 4 pm of the same day the streetdance competition will be held at the Bayambang National High School. The day ends with an interfaith thanksgiving for members of the community belonging to other religious groups.
From April 2 to 6, the hardworking people of the community will be honored through the bararnggay night, Farmers’ Day, Educators’ Night, Senior Citizens’ Day, TODA Day, Cultural/LGU Night, Matalunggaring Awards, and Fiesta Negosyante. The youth will have the chance to show their talent through Bayambang Got Talent, lnter-Barangay Sportsfest, and Zumbayambang. There will also be a cook-off called Malangsi Cooking Contest to discover budding culinary talents.
On April 5, the feast day of St. Vincent Ferrer, a Thanksgiving Mass will be held at the parish church followed by a traditional grand procession with statues of the esteemed patron paraded around town. The formal opening of the St. Vincent Ferrer Prayer Park will be held at Barangay Bani at 6 pm. The highlight of the event is the unveiling of the tallest statue of St. Vincent Ferrer which is the main attraction in the spacious Prayer Park that will also soon feature a chapel near the base of the statue, fountains in front, candle shed, business stalls, landscaped gardens, and wide open spaces helpful to a person’s meditation and recreation.
Other major events include the Kalutan Year 5: Labi’y Liket tan Gayaga where Vice Ganda, Kamikazee and December Avenue are guest performers; and the Binibining Bayambang 2019, Nina’s personal project, is set on April 6. Bianca Gonzalez is host while Dominic Roque is one of the judges.