Tag Archives: Philippines

Agoo, Philippines, 1989-1993


The visionary, Judiel Nieva, reportedly started receiving private apparitions of Our Lady in 1987 when he was only 10 years old and in the sixth grade.  These initial visions took place in the privacy of his own home.  He was the seventh child of eight born to poor parents who worked two stalls at the local market.  Everyone in Agoo knew Judiel because he was reputed to have special powers – even at his age of ten.  He was sought as a healer.  He had reported psychic abilities – like being able to detect a non-believer, even from a great distance.  (The name “Judiel” means “Bearer of God’s Mercy.”)  He prayed frequently and wrote down on paper the messages from Our Lady each time she gave him some.  Investigators noted that these hastily-written notes were carefully worded with near perfect grammar, seemingly beyond that of his age.

Later, Our Blessed Mother instructed the visionary to go with some of his friends up to the small spring of water in the hills above Agoo, the site of San Antonio.  This is where the first public apparition took place on March 31, 1989.  First, there was a bright flash of light.  Then he heard voices and the sounds of trumpets while angels descended from heaven toward him, singing, “Alleluia” and “Salve Regina.”  The angels formed an inverted “V” with three angels on either side and St. Michael at the apex with a white dove above his head.  The Holy Family appeared on a cloud – St. Joseph with a shepherd’s staff, and Our Lady was sitting on a rock, holding baby Jesus on her lap.  The angels identified themselves – each representing a day of the week:

St. Michael (Sunday) – holding a weighing scale and a sword

St. Gabriel (Monday) – holding a plum and a book

St. Raphael (Tuesday) – holding a fish and a sword

St. Uriel (Wednesday) – holding a weighing scale

St. Setiel (Thursday) – holding an incensor

St. Judiel (Friday) – holding a music book and a bouquet of flowers

St. Baracheil (Saturday) – holding a small child

Then Our Blessed Mother stood up over a guava tree on a rise, high, overlooking the spring, and spoke.  Her Immaculate Heart was visible on her chest, and light radiated outward towards the spring of water – which the infant Jesus then waded in.  Mary promised to visit Judiel every first Saturday and on her Feast days.  She asked for other people to return also.

Over 50 apparitions occurred between March 31, 1989 and September 8, 1993.  As each apparition day approached, he would begin a period of fasting and meditation.  During this time he would not speak to anyone or appear in public.  He preferred privacy, but when in public, male friends would act as “bodyguards.”  Just before the Virgin Mary would appear, her presence could be detected through the extraordinary fragrance of roses.  People would kiss the ground when they perceived this.  A flash of light usually preceded her appearance.

Mary was “a heavenly beauty to behold.”  She wore a long white dress with a long mantle which touched the cloud upon which she stood.  Only her toes could be seen.  At the hem of her dress was a shining star, with a brighter star on her forehead.  On her head was a beautiful crown, and above the crown was a halo of twelve stars.  Her eyes were bluish-brown.  Her Immaculate Heart was exposed.  She usually carried a rosary and sometimes a scapular.  At times Mary would be weeping – sometimes tears of blood flowed profusely from her eyes.

The statue of the Virgin Mary in Agoo, Philippines
The statue of the Virgin Mary in Agoo, Philippines

Her messages were simple and focused on praying the rosary, penance, conversion, and consecration to her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  She also stressed humility and sacrifice.  Judiel received secrets which have not been revealed.  Judiel was also shown visions of heaven, hell, and purgatory.

Large crowds were present during each apparition.  Tens of thousands of people converged on this small community, causing traffic jams for scores of miles.  Those present were often treated to spectacular signs and visions in the sky as well the “miracle of the spinning sun,” the aroma of roses, and a mysterious blue light whenever Mary would appear to Judiel.  The miracle of the “dancing sun” was witnessed by many thousands of people on several occasions.  First, the sun would change from its usual radiant glare to a softer glow covered by a disc.  Then different colors would radiate from the sun, spinning these rays of predominantly blue, green, red, and yellow colors onto the crowds as colored discs.  These colors would remain on the disc-shaped objects for a few seconds after the disc was touched.  Images of angels, the Holy Family, Jesus, and Mary with Joseph would appear from the pulsating sun.

March 31, 1992:  Our Lady presented the “Seven Keys to Heaven” and begged Judiel to    pray the 15 mysteries of the rosary, daily, while traveling, so that he would be protected from all dangers of body and soul.

  1. Attend daily Mass.
  2. Visit the Blessed Sacrament often.
  3. Wear the Brown Scapular (cloth).
  4. Pray the 15 mysteries of the holy rosary with the litany and Hail Holy Queen.
  5. Do the Way of the Cross.
  6. Go to Confession regularly.
  7. Make Communion of Reparation on First Fridays and First Saturdays.

April 4, 1992:  Mary said that the year 1995 would be the year of sorrows.  Many babies and little children will die from an unknown disease.  These deaths would not be a punishment but “an act of mercy to spare them from the coming chastisement, which was too horrible.”

May 23, 1992:  Mary says,

“If you don’t help me, the wrath of God shall fall upon mankind.  I can hardly hold the hand of My Son back.  If you don’t repent, it will happen very soon.  It may happen within two years.”

Visionary Judiel Nieva experiencing a Eucharistic miracle; Host turns to flesh and blood in front of witnesses.
Visionary Judiel Nieva experiencing a Eucharistic miracle; Host turns to flesh and blood in front of witnesses.

June 11, 1992:  Mary says,

“If the world does not change, I will send the warning.  The earth will shake.  The sun will spin with a big explosion, and the moon will appear in the morning and the sun at night.  The miraculous phenomenon will be visible all over earth, and all of this will happen within half an hour.  Big storms, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and changing weather conditions are already on their way.”

July 4, 1992:  Mary says,

“Pray the holy rosary — Satan will be defeated because he hates hearing the name of My Son and my name.  Teach your children how to pray the holy rosary …”

August 1, 1992:  An angel appeared and gave Judiel Holy Communion from a Host       and a Chalice suspended in mid-air.

September 5, 1992:  Many people witnessed the “miracle of the sun.”

November 14, 1992:  Mary said,

“I am your Mother.  Love each other.  Forgive each other.  Pray, pray, pray.  I love you very much. … It is not enough to ask for peace, but make peace.  Do not turn peace to violence.  Ask for faith that you may be patient.  If you do not change your ways, you will provoke the Third World War.”

December 13, 1992:  A Eucharistic Miracle was witnessed by Father Cortez and nuns at the convent.  A statue of Mary, carved according to Judiel’s description of her, was brought to the convent and shed tears to the amazement of the nuns and Father Cortez.  When Father Cortez placed a Host on Judiel’s tongue, witnesses reported that they saw it “turn into flesh and blood.”  When Judiel went back to his pew after communion, he felt liquid dripping from his mouth.  Then the Host swelled in his mouth, and the person next to him alerted Father Cortez, who urged him to spit it out.  The Communion Host had transformed into pulsating flesh and blood.  Father Cortez wanted to preserve this Eucharistic Miracle, but Our Lady intervened and said that Judiel must swallow it.  As a concession however, the nuns were allowed to press and imprint the bloody Host onto their white handkerchiefs.  Each nun did receive an imprint on each handkerchief.  Then Judiel put the Host back on his tongue – at which time it slowly turned back into a white host — just before he swallowed it, according to witnesses.  When Father Cortez asked him to open his mouth afterwards, there was no trace now of blood, flesh, or the host.

January 23, 1993:  Mary said,

            “On February 6th, I will give a great and special sign to the people coming to Agoo.”

February 6, 1993: The statue of Our Lady cried tears of blood after the regular First Saturday apparition at “Apparition Hill.”  A great number of pilgrims also witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun.”  Later that night, the statue was brought to the bishop’s palace in San Fernando.  Bishop Lazo reported that he witnessed with his own eyes the statue shedding tears of blood.  He said that the room filled with the strong fragrance of roses, “and we knelt and prayed.”  He even placed his own fingers in the blood that was on the face of the statue – and tasted the blood.  It was salty.  A photograph captured the moment, showing the smeared bloody face of the statue after he placed his fingers on it.  The National Bureau of Investigation tested the blood and determined that it was human blood, type “O”.  The Virgin Mary said that day,

“The only word I wish to say is conversion for the whole world.  I ask only for the conversion of hearts.  Be ready for everything, and be converted.”

The weeping blood of the Virgin's statue in Agoo. The observing bishop placed his fingers in it.
The weeping blood of the Virgin’s statue in Agoo. The observing bishop placed his fingers in it.

February 11, 1993:  Reported by cloistered nuns, a six-year old boy — who had been born blind – had his sight miraculously restored during the apparition on this date.  This was the first documented healing associated with the apparitions.  The weeping statue was also attributed to two unexpected healings of a high official’s critically ill wife.

Interest had grown tremendously in the apparition occurrences to the point that countless thousands started gathering in the days preceding an event.  On March 5, 1993, the day before the next apparition, a Manila Bulletin reporter covering the events said that he personally witnessed “a spinning and dancing of the sun” for about 15 minutes.  And at dawn of the apparition day, “the sun again moved and danced” for a brief time.

March 6, 1993:  It is estimated that one million people gathered that day for the anticipated apparition.  The crowd included top Philippine government officials, journalists, and the local bishop – acting as a representative for the Pope.  Father Cortez conducted a noontime Mass at “Apparition Hill” with this massive assembly.  At one point Father appealed for silence from the crowd, calling for them to feel the presence of Christ in their hearts.  Suddenly, the silhouette of the Virgin Mary appeared for five seconds above the guava tree.  Two government officials, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore, attested to seeing this manifestation in Agoo.  A radio reporter, Mon Francisco, described the apparition to listeners of Manila radio station DZXL.

“I saw a silhouette of a woman wearing a dark waistband.  I had not expected to see any apparition – and I was not hallucinating!”

About ten minutes afterwards, Judiel was reading a message he had just received from the Virgin when “lights of different colors came from various directions and moved toward the sun,” according to the Manila Bulletin.  Her message asked for Catholics to pray for the children of famine-wracked Somalia.  Judiel announced that the next and last apparition would be on September 8, 1993.

Bishop Salvador Lazo also experienced the phenomenon.  He created a commission to investigate, gather evidence and testimonies, and report to the Vatican on the events. Scores of miraculous cures have been attributed to the water spring at the apparition site.

September 8, 1993:  Mary said in her final public message,

“My children, listen.  You see how hard Satan is working to destroy unity in the whole world, especially between the priesthood and the flock, and in families between man and the children.  Satan works to take away peace and unity, to stir up trouble all over the universe.  We have to launch a counterattack – which can only be through the holy rosary.  So pray the whole mysteries of the rosary daily, because this is the most evangelical prayer.”

Despite all of these details, witnessed miracles, and public events, the commission created by Bishop Lazo condemned everything without explanation – giving only reference to alleged financial misdoings by the visionary’s family and Judiel’s own personal gender identity issues – seemingly unrelated concerns that should hardly dismiss all that occurred in Agoo of a supernatural nature.  Because of politics and unfair biases, this series of remarkable events, well-witnessed by thousands, remains relatively unknown because of the abrupt dismissal.

Luzon, Philippines, 1982


On the island of Luzon in the Philippines, there is an elementary school by the name of Emilia Auginaldo.  Janet Holly, age 10, a fourth-grader, was sitting on the playground at 4:30 in the afternoon.  When she looked up in the sky, something caught her attention.  She saw three angels, Mother Mary with a baby in her arms, and an old man standing next to her (Joseph?).  They were coming out of a golden palace in a carriage pulled by winged horses.  Janet was an orphan and started to cry, because she thought the angels were coming to take her away.

She ran into the classroom and called her teacher – who came out but did not see anything.  But other children came running out of the buildings and did see the exact same apparition in the sky.  They described the vision to a reporter in great detail.  The Virgin Mary was wearing a long gown with a gold crown on her head.  The angels had golden hair and long flaming gowns.  One of them had a key in her hand.  When the children waved their hands, the Blessed Virgin Mary waved back at them.  Then the apparition disappeared altogether.

One teacher, who had seen the vision along with the children, said that she felt an awesome force making her kneel down on the ground.

A week later, the children still told the same story without changing or embellishing any of the details.  However, what is most amazing is that the number of children who witnessed this apparition along with the one teacher totaled five hundred in number!  It is significant when five hundred young witnesses do not change or add to their stories over time, but remain consistent and credible.  Perhaps Mary allowed the one adult to see her as further validation that the event was real – and not just “imagined by children.”


Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, Lipa, Philippines, 1948 and 1990

“Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace”
LIPA, PHILIPPINES  (1948, 1990)

Teresita Castillo was 21 years old when she fled her prominent home and followed her secret desire to become a Carmelite novice on July 4, 1948.  Within one month of her arrival into the convent, on July 31, 1948, Satan visited her in her room and attempted to convince her to leave the convent.  Three more times, accompanied by a foul odor, he appeared to her and tried to force her out with threats and fears.  But, in August, when Our Lady first appeared to her, there was an overpowering but pleasant fragrance of flowers.  Mary appeared to her three times in August, then for 15 consecutive days in September with one final visit in November.  This rapid succession of supernatural visits caused Teresita to ask, “Is this what life is like in this convent?”

Teresita Castillo (3rd from left in back) with Carmelites in Lipa
Teresita Castillo (3rd from left in back) with Carmelites in Lipa

July 31, 1948 – Satan made three loud knocks on her cell door followed by a foul odor and then a harsh voice which frightened her.  When she showed her rosary to him, he departed, leaving a soot-covered hoof print on the floor.

August 18, 1948 – Mary tells Teresita to wash the feet of the prioress, Mother Cecilia, and to drink some of the water herself.  When told this, the prioress was quite doubtful.

The Virgin Mary begins appearing to Teresita Castillo.
The Virgin Mary begins appearing to Teresita Castillo.

August 19, 1948 – Blessed Mary repeats her request to Teresita but adds a locution in Mother Cecilia’s ear, telling her that Teresita would be carrying a sign of confirmation for such a request.  The prioress observed unexpected circles of blood around Teresita’s eyes – so she believed and let her wash her feet! Mary voiced her approval later that night, disguised as a nun.

Teresita ponders the strange events happening at the convent.
Teresita ponders the strange events happening at the convent.

August 20, 1948 – Teresita saw showers of rose petals for the first of many times.  They occurred both outside in the garden and inside the convent.  Many clergy, pilgrims, and religious witnessed these rose petal showers.  The rose petals contained miraculous images of Jesus, Mary, and other holy scenes.  They were collected, saved, and cherished by many – even to this present day.

"I am Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace"
“I am Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace”

August 22, 1948 – Teresita awoke and felt invisible hands trying to strip her of her clothes.  The devil was trying to attack her.  She struggled, broke free, and fled to the stairway.  The prioress heard the commotion and joined into the physical struggle herself – and helped free Teresita.  But Teresita was now blind.  Mother Cecilia had a prophetic locution that she would regain her eyesight – and on September 7, she did see again.

The site of the apparition events in Lipa, Philippines
The site of the apparition events in Lipa, Philippines

September 12, 1948 – Teresita was praying in the garden when a vine began to shake and a bluebird appeared.  Our Lady appeared and requested that she kiss the earth and return to this same spot for 15 consecutive days.

September 14, 1948 – Mary requested that the location of the apparitions be blessed in the presence of the community – and that was accomplished.

A shower of rose petals frequently occurred in Lipa.
A shower of rose petals frequently occurred in Lipa.

September 15, 1948 – Our Lady asked that her image be created and placed in a shrine for prayer at the site of these apparitions.  A statue of Mary was enshrined.

September 16, 1948 – Teresita sees Mary arrive, accompanied by little angels.

Numerous rose petals had miraculous images on them.
Numerous rose petals had miraculous images on them.

September 21, 1948 – Mary requests 13 devotions be said on Saturdays.

September 22, 1948 —  Mary tells Teresita that she is not obligated to believe, listen, or even pray on Saturdays unless she wants to — of her own free will.

Miraculous image on petal: Virgin with Jesus
Miraculous image on petal: Virgin with Jesus

September 25, 1948 – Mary asks for everyone to become consecrated to her on October 7 and “become My slaves.”

September 26, 1948 – “I am Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.  Mass is to be held every 12th  day of the month.”

Rose petal image: the passion of Jesus
Rose petal image: the passion of Jesus

November 5, 1948 – Teresita suffers the passion of Jesus, beginning exactly at noon, lying on the floor unconscious.  This is witnessed by the prioress, Bishop Obviar, and other nuns.  As one nun reported, “The seven words would be re-enacted, and we really did see it!”

November 12, 1948 – Mary says, “People do not believe my words … Pray for priests … What I ask here is exactly what I asked for at Fatima … Pray.  The people do not  heed my words.  There will be persecutions, unrest, and bloodshed in your country.  The enemy of the church will try to destroy the faith which Jesus established and died for.  …Be not afraid, for the love of my Son will soften the hardness of hearts, and My Motherly love will be their strength to curse the enemies of God …”

Rose petal image: an apparition of Mary with kids
Rose petal image: an apparition of Mary with kids

Saint Therese of Liseux accompanied Our Lady during some of the apparitions.  She had been known for saying, “From the heavens I will let fall a shower of roses.”  Teresita had also seen Saint Cecilia.  On an occasion, Teresita was too ill to attend Mass, so an angel brought her communion, placing a host on her tongue. 

Rose petal image: the death of Jesus
Rose petal image: the death of Jesus

On January 23, 1949, the cornerstone was laid for the new church, Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace — with up to 50,000 present.  But Bishop Alfredo Verzosa ordered the Carmelite nuns to withdraw the statue of Mary from public veneration because of all the commotion it had caused.  He personally went to the convent on November 19, 1948, determined to do this, himself.  When he opened the door and entered the convent, a shower of rose petals fell on him.  He fell to his knees and could not utter a word.  From that moment on, Bishop Verzosa supported the apparitions with official approval.

Rose petal image: the Last Supper
Rose petal image: the Last Supper

Many cures have been reported using the rose petals.  A baby, Soccorro Dichoso, was born with a hole in her skull.  The parents applied rose petals from one of the “showers” to the baby’s skull on January 28, 1949.  X-rays confirmed that the hole closed up and the brain receded, curing the child.

On December 24, 1950, a girl was receiving the Last Rites, dying from a cerebral hemorrhage, when the priest placed one of those “heavenly rose petals” on her forehead.  Upon the ringing of the Angelus bell, the girl suddenly awakened as if nothing was wrong – and she was completely healed.

Rose petal image: the Virgin Mary
Rose petal image: the Virgin Mary

Another child, Menania Sungo, had been born with a severely deformed right foot.  It was curled so much that she could not wear a shoe; her leg had atrophied, shortened, and wasted away.  But, at nine years old, her uncle brought a bottle of water that had been placed by Mary’s statue overnight. The mother rubbed this water on her foot every evening for a week, and then the child awoke one morning to a perfectly healed foot and leg!  Neighbors reported a strong fragrance of flowers around the child’s home.  The Sungo family was shocked when a shower of rose petals fell inside their own home.

Rose petal image: Christ with crown of thorns
Rose petal image: Christ with crown of thorns

And “showers” of rose petals have often fallen inside Teresita’s home as well.  Several witnesses, including a priest, were present when full roses materialized out of thin air and landed on the stairs, altar, and bedroom of Teresita’s home.

The official church investigation in April, 1951, was rather suspicious in that key witnesses were not interviewed, diaries and evidence were destroyed, and the six bishops who signed the negative report admitted later that they had been coerced to do so under threat of excommunication.  Despite efforts by psychiatric professionals to find mental illness, delusion, or other emotional disturbances with Teresita, she was officially deemed sane.  Neither Bishop Obviar nor Bishop Verzosa was questioned. Stringent sanctions were placed on the Convent of Lipa.  The nuns were cut off from the world; the statue of Mary was removed from sight. But, from February through May, 1990, a white luminous figure of a female in prayer appeared in a coconut tree every evening for 90 days.  Sister Alphonse pleaded from her deathbed for the statue of Mary to be exposed again in the Chapel of Carmel.

Rose petal image: Virgin Mary with the Pope
Rose petal image: Virgin Mary with the Pope

The next day – after 40 years – Archbishop Gaviola finally ordered the statue to be displayed again.  Showers of rose petals began again.  As Teresita and two others were praying in front of Mary’s statue in the chapel, a shower of pure white rose petals fell inside the chapel.

Rose petal image: a prayerful Virgin Mary
Rose petal image: a prayerful Virgin Mary

A few days later, six children playing in the convent garden saw the statue of Mary come to life.  They reported,

“I saw her eyes cry, and her feet come close together.  I held her hand, and it was soft.  I saw her dress blow in the breeze.  I held her dress, and it was soft.  When I kissed her feet, I felt them move – the toes wiggled.  The eyes raised upward and the rosary moved.”  

Rose petal image: Virgin Mary with Child Jesus
Rose petal image: Virgin Mary with Child Jesus

Other reports include the “spinning of the sun” and strong smell of roses again.  And Teresita began receiving messages from Mary again.  Water gained healing powers if the rose petals had been dipped into it.

Rose petal image: the scene of the Crucifixion
Rose petal image: the scene of the Crucifixion

Due to the scandalous suppression of facts, coerced statements from six bishops, and the omission of key witnesses and evidence, the church has finally set up a new committee to investigate all the happenings at Lipa.  (Finally approved 9-12-2015 by the Archbishop)

Teresita Castillo, many years later
Teresita Castillo, many years later


Our Lady of Manaoag, Manaoag, Philippines, 1610

“Our Lady of Manaoag”

In 1610, a man was walking home along a lonely road in the Pangasinan region when he happened to hear a lady’s mysterious voice. Turning around, he was greatly surprised to see a radiant lady holding a small child on one arm while a rosary was suspended from her right hand.  The vision appeared to be standing on a bright cloud over a small bush.  Saying nothing, the Virgin looked sweetly at the man – who was now on his knees in profound reverence.

When the villagers heard of the vision, they hastily journeyed there and soon built a small church over the place of the apparition.  A town soon flourished near it and was named “Manaoag” — which means “to call.”

The Blessed Virgin seems to have protected this region ever since then from numerous threats.  There was a time in which mountain tribes were accustomed to burning Christian villages.  One day, when Manaoag was destined to be torched, flaming arrows were shot into the little church.  Not a single flame set it on fire.

On an even greater scale, during World War II, four bombs were dropped.  Three landed on the patio and only damaged the facade of the church. One bomb crashed through the roof of the church, but it failed to explode inside.  The church was miraculously saved.

Our Lady of Manaoag, Philippines with baby Jesus
Our Lady of Manaoag, Philippines with baby Jesus

In 1698, huge swarms of locusts began to ravage the rice fields.  They came in swarms so vast that the sky was darkened.  An image of the Blessed Virgin (that had been brought to the Philippines by Padre Juan de San Jacinto of Spain in the early 17th century) was taken out to the fields.  Desperate for help, they placed the small image on the ground and then watched in amazement as the locusts began to destroy each other in a totally unexpected manner that had never been witnessed before.  The carnage continued until not a single locust could be found alive.

Another miracle took place during the drought of 1706.  The fields had been scorched by the drought, and the seedlings were shriveled from the heat.  As days passed with more sun, heat, and no rainclouds, the people began praying to Our Lady for help and took her image once more out to the fields.  During the first day of a novena, and after a procession with the miraculous statue, Our Lady showed her compassion again for this region by gathering rain clouds as soon as her image was returned to the church.  The sky dimmed and a downpour of much-needed rain soon fell.  This rainfall continued for many days until the ground was refreshed and the crops were saved.

Another spectacular miracle was documented in 1698.  It was on Easter Sunday when a fire of unknown origin devoured the whole town and crept steadily toward the church.  The parish priest was notified of the danger and rushed to the scene.  He grabbed the statue of Our Lady from inside the church and took it out to protect it from harm.  He prayed and pleaded with Blessed Mary, saying,

“Dear Lady, if you do not spare the church from fire, I will hurl myself into the flames with you so that the two of us may be consumed by it.”

After he pleaded with Our Lady of Manaoag, the flames immediately died down and were extinguished.  Once again , the church was miraculously saved.

Many pilgrims visit the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag every year – but, especially during the months of April and May when annual, worldwide pilgrimages occur.  Many other miracles attributed to Our Lady are depicted in giant wall paintings in the church.  The crowds were huge on April 21, 1926, when the Papal Nuncio canonically crowned the image of Our Lady of Manaoag.

Allegedly, Our Lady visits all the barrios of Manaoag and all the towns in the district of Pangasinan every twenty-five years.


Manila, Philippines, 1986

The events in the Philippines began in February, 1986, as the virtual twenty-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos came to an abrupt and unexpected end through a series of strange events. Corazon Aquino, the widow and reluctant political replacement of slain opposition leader, Ninoy Aquino, had won the presidential election in a stunning upset by an overwhelming margin. President Marcos had actually called for this election as a means to put an end to the efforts by the opposition, but it backfired! However, through illegal actions and total control of the media, Marcos, instead, flagrantly lied and declared himself as the winner.

The rigged election results were blatant and obvious to everyone, sending millions into the streets to protest and triggering an unexpected coup attempt by a dissatisfied faction of the military. The saga of EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) culminated in a four-day tension-filled event when the rebel group in the Armed Forces of the Philippines was discovered by the Marcos troops and was ordered to be arrested. The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin, enjoined the people to go out in the streets to protect the rebel leaders. The Catholic faithful heeded the call and massed along EDSA, fronting Camp Crame where the rebel leaders — headed by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos — were holed and thus escorted by the people against impending bombs from the Marcos loyal troops.

The people milled around the rebel leaders, bringing nothing with them but rosary beads, flowers, food and images of the Blessed Virgin. Hundreds and thousands of religious priests and sisters, parish priests and their parishioners including onlookers and curiosity seekers stayed on the whole of EDSA, immobilizing the tanks sent out to crush the rebel leaders and, according to reports, even the people. The masses of people in the streets continued to pray the Rosary endlessly. Some offered garlands of flowers to the soldiers who stood guard. Some brave nuns climbed up on the tanks that were approaching. Those who stayed in their homes sent supplies of food and drinks to the streets.

President Marcos had sent a full army — with tanks and armored vehicles — to Manila in order to control the seemingly unstoppable public demonstrations against his administration. He planned to stop at nothing in order to gain control – even if that meant massacring the crowds on the streets. The civilians continued their protests, notwithstanding the danger when they would lie down in front of the tanks to stop them from penetrating the crowd.

Tanks in the streets of Manila 1986
Tanks in the streets of Manila 1986

As the soldiers tried to advance, they saw up in the sky what appeared to be a cross-like figure, but this did not hinder them from pursuing their goal, and they continued to press on toward the crowd. The Rosary was recited continuously; the melody of Ave Maria sounded after each decade.

All of a sudden, the soldiers were awestruck, stopping dead in their tracks. A “beautiful woman encased in immense bright light and dressed as a nun” became clearly visible, standing in front of the tanks. The light was dazzling as the crowds saw her appear. According to these soldiers, a beautiful woman dressed in blue with heavenly eyes appeared in front of them, extended her arms outward and spoke in a voice that was clearly audible to everyone,

Dear soldiers, stop! Do not proceed. Do not harm my children. I am the queen of this land.”

The soldiers then dropped their weapons, withdrew from pressing forward and joined the throngs of people to turn and fight with them against the Marcos regime.

The soldiers claimed that the woman who appeared to them was the Virgin Mary. A television station was covering the event which prompted thousands of residents of the Philippines to run out of their homes in celebration: “Mother Mary is with us!”

Crowd in Manila 1986
Crowd in Manila 1986

President Marcos and his family left for Hawaii that night.

Cardinal Jaime Sin vouches for the veracity of the apparition and said:

Yes, my heart was telling me that this was indeed Mary. And since they obeyed this woman who appeared to them – and did not follow orders to fire upon the people, then President Marcos had nobody to give him any power or support. This is when he fled from the Philippines. That was the end of him.

The Cardinal added that he did not know the soldiers – but that they came in tears to him, awestruck by the “beautiful heavenly lady.” The Cardinal also revealed that he met with Sister Lucia, the only living visionary from Fatima, just before he was to travel to the United States to first tell of the Virgin’s visit at a press conference. Although Sister Lucia had no access to newspapers, radio, television, or magazines, he was amazed that she knew and recounted every detail to him of what had happened. She then added that Corazon Aquino was a gift to the Philippines from God, and that if she could maintain peace and democracy there for at least two or more years, that nation would be influential in leading China to Christianity.

It was on a historic day, February 25, 1986 when the concept of a special shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived. On that date, the political dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos ended with him, family and close associates fleeing to Hawaii to escape the angry but peaceful uprising of the Filipino people who were tired of his one-man rule.

It was a shining moment for the faith of the people in a God who listens. It was also the people’s faith and trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, which gave the people persistence in patiently waiting for the end of this unlamented regime.

Our Lady of ESDA Shrine, Manilla
Our Lady of ESDA Shrine, Manilla

Ten years later, on the same site where the rebels were met by the protective group of political activists to safety, a church was built, aptly named Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, in commemoration of that glorious moment in the history of the Filipino people where love and faith towered over the might of guns and goons and propelled the Republic to continue its political history of freedom and respect for the constitution and the will of the people.

Mary, Queen of Peace, the Patroness of EDSA Shrine, stands guard as a large statue atop the beautifully crafted roof of the EDSA Church, fronting the busy crossroads of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue. It is a fitting place for Our Lady of Peace to look over her children and keep them hopeful of a more joyous and peaceful life now and in the future.