A Spanish firing squad officer stands behind six Filipinos dead bodies neatly lined with their bodies almost showing the same posture – all falling to left side. Note the three priests at the left end of the line. The location of the execution is unknown but the structure behind the Spanish officer seem to indicate a cemetery. Image Source: Biblioteca Ministerio de Defensa, Espana.
“After forty years’ research in the streets of Manila and archives on three continents, Doeppers has produced a landmark study in the fields of urban history and human geography. Empirically, this book is the first to chart Manila’s rise from a small port to a nascent metropolis, spinning a narrative that ends tragically amid the mass starvation and fiery destruction of World War II. Theoretically, Feeding Manila offers a pathbreaking analysis of the urban-rural linkages that sustained this rapid urbanization over the span of a century, illuminating a problem increasingly critical in a world of hungry megacities. Methodologically, Doeppers deftly merges a mass of historical documentation into a taut analytical narrative. In sum, a stunning scholarly achievement.” Alfred W. McCoy, author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (Source:http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5448.htm)
Last June 3, 2012, during the Misa ng Bayan in celebration of the Patronal Feastday of the Most Holy Trinity (MHTP) Parish of Balic-Balic, Sampaloc, Manila, Fr. Enrico Adoviso, parish priest, announced the proposed enhancement of the main altar of the parish church. This 2016, the renovation work finally started but a question still remains as to where the patronal image of the Holy Trinity will be placed. As early as June 4, 2012, I already questioned Dominic Galicia’s architectural plan where he placed the Holy Trinity patronal image at the left most side of the former left altar (Santatlo sa Santabi, is how I would describe the plan, click to read the June 4, 2012 Open Letter).
As of Holy Thursday, March 24, 2016, the progress of actual construction seem to show a change of plan in terms of the placement of the tabernacle (from the left side altar to the center altar, below the planned new crucifix). If today’s plan is to place the tabernacle in the center, then the architect, maybe unintentionally, is returning to the original character of the Most Holy Trinity Church when the tabernable was placed at the center of the altar.
In the 1937 wedding photograph of my parent-in-laws, Gregorio L. Reyes and Lucina E. Ramos, we can see the tabernacle located at the middle of the altar. More importantly, above the tabernable, we can see the patronal image of the Holy Trinity.
Gregorio L. Reyes & Lucina E. Ramos Wedding, July 21, 1937, Most Holy Trinity Church, Balic-balic, Sampaloc, Manila. Fr. Jose Marquez, officiating priest (Source: Reyes-Ramos Family Collection).
Where will the patronal image of the Holy Trinity be located in Dominic Galicia’s altar renovation plan? The Holy Trinity’s place is not at the distant left side of the altar (Galicia’s original placement) – the Holy Trinity needs to be returned to the center of the lives of the community of Balic-Balic.
I pray that it is not to late for the architect to return the patronal image to the original location as shown in the 1937 photograph – just above the tabernacle, at the center of the altar. Dominic Galicia’s modernistic architectural aesthetic need to address the theological reality that the patron of his client, is no ordinary saint, but that of the Holy Trinity. Even if we place a new sculpture of the crucified Christ as part of this 2016 renovation, we need to affirm that Christianity is not just about the crucified Christ alone, Christianity is about the fullness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I am proud to be a parishioner of the first church (and parish) in the whole Archdiocese of Manila named after the Holy Trinity. However, let us manifest our Trinitarian faith by returning the patronal image of the Holy Trinity to the altar’s center. We will soon gaze at the new sculpture of the crucified Christ placed at the center altar- as all Christians should – we will gaze at the old sculpture of the Holy Trinity placed at the altar center – as all parishioners should who call the Trinitarian God as their sacred patron.
Is there still time to reclaim the Holy Trinity’s rightful place?