Not so Divina

Pueblo gate

Pueblo gate

My disappointment with the administrators of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arkangel was aggravated by its impolite employees at the parish office during my recent visit. After being heavily criticized by popular heritage conservationist and the media for destroying the icons and retablo of the church. I thought that these people would be more sensitive but I believe all the criticisms achieved the opposite.

As the streamer of the church’s museum indicates, it is open Saturday, like most normal museum – weekends are the best time to lure visitors to stopover. I then started to wonder why it’s close. I went to the church office only to be greeted by its unfriendly staff; didn’t even bother to answer when I asked if the museum will open that day.

I thought at first that it could be my Bisaya, admittedly not very good, so I asked again, this time in English, a language Cebuano’s prefer over Tagalog. “Ma’am, can someone help me, I want to visit the museum, and will it be open today? I’m from Manila po”, my exact words – unbelievably the woman snapped back and said “Please comeback next time!”. It was a rude reaction from someone you expect to be ready to lend a hand.

Admittedly I was lying by saying that I was from Manila since I’m already residing in Cebu City, I lied – but obviously it had no effects.

It could be a simple case of confusion; I said to myself, after all, this is not the first time I’ve been misunderstood around here. So, believe it or not, after being snubbed, I left that place still feeling upbeat, if this people can’t help me someone else would, after all I’m in tourist friendly Argao.

So I started to look for someone, I first spoke with an old gentleman who was cleaning the altar. “Wait for monsignor, he’ll come down for the first communion of the children, he can help you Sir”, so wait I did. After an hour the good Padre came down, as customary for Catolicos, I asked for his blessing by kissing his hand.

I never wasted time and went straight to the point. He then called the kind chap who endorsed me to him, he told him to get someone from the office. He went back with Divina, the supladita from the Parish office. Yes, it was Divina and me again; the priest gave her clear instructions in Bisaya, “get the key and assist him”.

After lying that I was arrogant and some other stuff that she made up to make the priest believe that I was a bad bad sightseer (thank God that I could understand the language) and throwing temper tantrums like that of a child, she then grudgingly said the magic words “yes, Father”.

After reaching her small office, she mockingly told me to wait, after 30 minutes, standing in front of her booth while she’s chit chatting and texting – I realized what this perra was trying to do. I was stupid to believe that this character will still help me, obviously she was upset about having to assist me after she had repulsed me the first time, there was no way in hell that she would help me now!

I then decided to leave, what a shame that the Parish have these cabrones in their payroll. If Argao wants more visitors, it has to make sure that the museum and church is being managed by capable hands – when I went to the  municipal tourist center to lodge a complaint (even if I know that the church operate independently from the local government) it was also close because according to a bystander at the municipio, “its Saturday!” – Isn’t it that weekends are when tourist usually comes?

These people in the parish office is just one small group, they don’t represent the town nor its values, too bad for me I met them. I would like to leave a piece of advice and a few words of wisdom for the parish employees: Take a moment to place yourself in the shoes of the tourists, who took time to visit your still splendid church (even after your parish priest ruined the retablo and the capella posas’) and its museum, tourist who traveled far and long to pay homage to the parish. Help ease their weary roaming bodies with some simple kindness.

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6 responses to “Not so Divina

  • nold

    Thank you for dropping by Sir.

    Argao is a fascinating place – words are not enough to describe its unique beauty, it truly reflects the soul of our Filipino identity. Its “unfortunate” what happened to the church but heritage structures in Argao are still plenty and most intact. And we are all “fortunate” that we have men like you working towards conserving this treasures.

  • Todd Lucero Sales

    Hi there,

    As a heritage officer of the municipality I am really, really sorry for this. The parish priest of Argao is not tourist friendly, not unless you’re a tourist who has tons of money to donate to him. I am in the process of making a petition to have the priest removed but it will take some time before we can successfully have him removed from the town.

    Hi staff’s behavior is simply a reflection of the monsignor’s attitude.

  • estan

    well, there’s some glimmer of hope. the erring priest, who recently had the remaining part of the cemetery arch demolished so that his vehicle can enter, will be transferred next month! I just hope, that Divina will also be removed.

  • josé miguel

    What a pity that those people who are supposed to man the frontiers of our heritage are the ones contributing to its injury. Maybe the clown has been infected by the transmission into our nation in the 1900s, the Heritage Injuring Virus.

  • nold

    Yeah I remember that horrible experience of yours in Los Banos. Personally, I really don’t get affected by these behaviour, I couldn’t careless if they act like savages, that’s them but these behavior are detrimental to places like Argao, who are massively campaigning to get a pie of the tourist money. That is why I tried to report them but the cultural office is close – so I’m left with writing here.

    I believe that their attitude towards tourist, esp the Manila tourist has changed since they were attacked in news print and blogs for what they did in their parish.

    Argao is great place – actually its administrative structures is divided into two, the Spanish and that of the Americanos, I’ll post pictures of the American era building here.

  • Traveler on Foot

    I am smiling while reading this entry nold because it reminds me of my distressing encounter with Philippine High School for the Arts Assistant Director Reynaldo Wong during my aborted trip to National Arts Center.

    It is very disappointing when people like Wong and Divina are assigned in places where people visit. Arrogant and lazy people like them do not contribute anything good to our country but shame.

    They should be assigned to a place where they will have no interaction with people like inside a whale’s stomach or the earth’s core.

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