“Viva Señora Birhen sa Regla!” – At Last…

The black Birhen sa Regla, a unique Catholic treasure

The black Birhen sa Regla, a unique Catholic treasure

I’ve heard of the black image of Virgen de la Regla for a long time – I’ve always wanted to see it, my curiosity was if it really is black like the Nazarene in Quiapo. I was supposed to pay a visit last summer but for some strange reason I ended up somewhere else. Today, seven months later, I finally made it.

I went to Lapu-Lapu via Port 3 of Cebu City; a boat ride  took around 15 to 20 minutes depending on sea condition, it could take longer. By jeep it will take longer because one has to take multiple rides coming from Cebu City. Getting off at Muelle Osmeña I saw the tower that was once the site of a post built in the 18th century. I’m not sure when the present tower was constructed but its foundations appears to be from the old post. From here there are cheap carinderias and souvenir shops, selling everything that has the image of the Lady on it. A ladder going up leads directly to the grounds of Lapu-Lapu city’s popular devotion site.

In terms of local devotees, Virgen de la Regla is among the most popular pilgrimage place, together with the Sto.Niño of Cebu City. Lapu-Lapu city celebrates their patrons feast from November 12 to 20. Once known as the town of Opon (local word for cogon grass) the city stages the grandest  weeklong celebration in honor of the Virgin patron with a feast of native foods, wines and processions. Unfortunately, the local government has recently included pageants for homosexuals and beer drinking contest. Parang circo na yata ang gusto ng mga politico.

Another tragedy is the demolition of the old Church, originally built (and rebuilt…) by the Augustinian Fathers. During the 1960’s, works begun to modernize the structure of the parish, using concrete cement and iron grills it was transformed into a modern edifice, the Church today has no tangible connection to its ancient beginnings except the Virgin icon and what remains of the old convent. Justification was that the parish needed to expand in order to accommodate its parishioners. Sadly, without careful planning and consultations with experts, most expansion and reconstruction of old Churches ends in disaster. The practice has become unrestrained and at times scandalous (in Argao for example the parish priest demolished some portions of a wall so his car can  park!); such activities are unregulated by the leaders of the Catholic faith, there seem to be no guidelines, no regulations  in place. Priest that have been found responsible for ruining historical structures are left unpunished. These monuments of time, our heritage and our history, are constantly under threat by the very people that are suppose to look after it. Nakakalungkot isipin na karamihan sa ating mga Catolico , kasama na ang ka-Parian, ay mababaw ang pangunawa sa importansyang historikal at kultural ng mga Simbahang ito.

For first time visitors, many ask why “Regla”, since it’s the Filipino word for menstrual period. This according to a former professor was based in Spanish, because menstrual period follows a “rule” of dates. The word  “sa Regla” actually refers to “of the order” or “ of rules”, sothe English name is the Virgin of the Rule but since locals refers to it as Birhen sa Regla, most tourist are left wondering what’s with the name. The second question is why is it black? The concept of a brown Virgin came from Hippo, where St. Augustine purposely made the Virgin dark because he was evangelizing Africans. The venerated statue of the Virgin in Opon church is said to be almost 300 years old and was formed after the likeness of the Saint’s “Virgin of the Rule”. A Friar from Andalucia brought the statue of the Virgin in the 1700’s; the painting on the other hand, was commissioned by a local man after the Virgin healed him from his illness. The crown of the Virgin was blessed by Pope Pius XII. The devotion of the Opon locals to the Virgin is truly inspiring, testament to the endearing power and love of the Virgin Mother of Opon to those who seeks her help.

Muelle Osmena

Muelle Osmena

The back of the Church. Im unsure of the original was built facing the sea but it could be the case since it is the usual practice.

The back of the Church. I dont know if the original was built facing the sea but it could be the case since it is usual practice to construct churches with its main doors opening to the sea.

The old convent

The old convent

22 Agosto 2009


10 responses to ““Viva Señora Birhen sa Regla!” – At Last…

  • Neopelagianus

    Our church here in Bacoor originally faced the sea in commemoration of those who died crossing Bacoor Bay during the rainy season in order to attend Mass in San Pedro Parish in Cavite City. (If only modern Catholics have that piety!)

  • Butch ouano

    Viva Senyora Berhin sa Regla!!! Maayong fiesta sa taga lapu-lapu!!!!


  • Anonymous

    Exodus 20:4-5 prohibits bowing to graven images; yet, Catholics defiantly bow anyway, and then have the audacity to blaspheme God by saying it’s not idolatry.

  • Anonymous

    u don’t pray and worship to those created by man, instead pray to the Lord our God that is in heaven,and not any craved images.It is in the Bible. It’s very clear that you people don’t read our holy Bible. u must read to know the truth.

  • Anonymous

    it really mesmerize me why the virgin of rule is black but anyways I prayed to her for my special intentions…VIVA BIRHEN SA REGLA….

  • MARYs


    • Anonymous

      Do not pray and worship to those that is created by the hands of man, or any carved images, instead pray and worship God the Father in heaven for He is our savior,you shall not have any other God before HIM. It is in the Bible that u must not create craved images, u must read the holy bible guys to know the truth,coz it is very clear that u are not reading the bible..u keep on doing those unforgivable things and u will go directly to hell.It is in the Bible also. Read it.

      • Anonymous

        Wow! You seem to be so sure of yourself. Kapatid, i don’t think you know what you’re talking about. It does not mean that the people are worshipping the statues/images, but are only venerating the one these statues/images represent. Let me share with you our own experience… My niece was hit by a car when she was 9 years old and was in the hospital for 3 months with a lot of trauma including a fractured femur which made her unable to walk and deformed. Her father took her to the cathedral on the Blessed Mother’s feast day. Beside the church was the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes which is slightly elevated. People would line up to venerate the image. My brother-in-law carried her on his shoulder since she could not walk and right after kissing the statue she asked him to put her down. Knowing her condition and since the line was very long, he said no but she insisted so he did. Right there and then, she was able to walk.

        And there are too many miracles that happened in our lives.Are you familiar of the statue of the Resurrected Christ in Medjugorje? It is made of bronze but it oozes oil and sometimes water which people collect and use to apply to their body parts that’s hurting or has a problem. My friend’s breast mass was gone after applying that water to her affected breast. My co-worker’s aneurysm also disappeared. Her 2nd MRI which was taken after she applied the water to the affected area came back negative. The daughter of the friend of my cousin’s co- worker was in a coma for 3 days. The doctors wanted to discontinue the life-support but the mother said no. My cousin gave her the water/oil and the mother made the sign of the cross on her daughter with her hand dipped in it and right after that, the patient woke up and asked for something to read. There are many more healings that i could tell you even on my own family and remember, this water/oil came from a STATUE. IT IS GOD WHO HEALS. The people and things are just intruments. AND IT IS ONLY HIM WHO CAN JUDGE AND WHO DECIDE WHO AMONG US WOULD GO TO HELL. HE IS THE MOST MERCIFUL. HE FORGIVES, even you, for being so quick in judging us.
        I guess you are not a Catholic, because if you are, i don’t know. Maybe you’re the one who need to read your bible and try to understand it. And if you noticed, even the pope venerates a stutue. What does that tell you?

      • Neopelagianus

        Well, I have dealt with this Protestant nonsense about the veneration of images. Fine, let me offer some verses from Holy Writ using the King James and the Wycliffe Version:
        Numbers 21:8-9 King James Version (KJV)
        8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
        9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
        Numbers 21:8-9 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
        8 and the Lord said to him, Make thou a [brazen] serpent, and set thou it in a perch; he that is smitten and beholdeth it, shall live. (and the Lord said to him, Make thou a bronze snake, and put it up on a pole; he who is struck, or is bitten, and seeth it, shall live.)
        9 Therefore Moses made a serpent of brass, and setted (it) in a perch; and (those) men (who were) hurt, and beholding it, were healed. (And so Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it up on a pole; and those who were bitten, and looked at it, were healed.)
        1 Chronicles 28:18-19 King James Version (KJV)
        18 And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
        19 All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.
        1 Chronicles 28:18-19 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
        18 And he gave most fine gold to the altar, wherein incense was burnt, (and) that a likeness of the cart of cherubims, holding forth (their) wings, and covering the ark of [the] bond of peace of the Lord, should be made thereof. (And he told him the weight of the most fine gold for the altar, on which the incense was burned, and also for the likeness, or the model, of the chariot of the cherubim, with them holding forth their wings, and covering the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.)
        19 And David said, All (these) things came written by the hand of the Lord to me, that I should understand all the works of the exemplar/of the ensampler (so that I could understand all the works in the example).
        Ezekiel 41:17-18 King James Version (KJV)
        17 To that above the door, even unto the inner house, and without, and by all the wall round about within and without, by measure.
        18 And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;
        Ezekiel 41:17-18 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
        17 on the doors, and till to the inner house, and withoutforth by all the wall(s) in compass, within and withoutforth at measure. (And above the door, inside and outside, and on all the walls all around, inside and outside, with the same measurements,)
        18 And cherubims and palm trees were made craftily, and (there was) a palm tree betwixt cherub and cherub; and (each) cherub had two faces, (were cherubim and palm trees, carved with craftsmanship, that is, made with precision, with a palm tree between one cherub and another cherub; and each cherub had two faces,)
        Exodus 25:18-20 King James Version (KJV)
        18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
        19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
        20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
        Exodus 25:18-20 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
        18 Also thou shalt make on ever either side of God’s answering place, two cherubims of gold, and beaten out with an hammer; (And thou shalt make for each end of the propitiatory, or the mercy seat, two gold cherubim, beaten out with a hammer;)
        19 one cherub be on one side of God’s answering place, and the tother in the tother side; cover they ever either side of the propitiatory, (one cherub shall be at one end of the lid, and the other cherub shall be at the other end of the lid; and the cherubim shall be made so that they form one piece with the propitiatory,)
        20 and hold they forth the(ir) wings, and cover they God’s answering place; and behold they themselves together, while their faces be turned in to the propitiatory, (and their wings shall be spread out, and they shall cover the lid; and they shall face each other, but their faces shall be turned down toward the propitiatory,)

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