Casay-casay (kasay-kasay) in Tagalog is the word for the kingfisher. It’s a relatively small but eye-catching bird—introverted, territorial but possessing bright colors. My favorite bird (esp. the collared and black capped) because I personally consider them as some kind of a spiritual symbol.
When I heard that Caysasay came from casay-casay, I was intrigued to find out more.
Kasay in old Tagalog means taking a lengthy bath. The kingfishers are known to inhabit rivers, lakes and wet rice paddies. In Visaya, the bird is generally called tikarol. Interesting is that kasay-kasay also have another meaning in Tagalog—an object or a person that brings bad luck!
Now, old Greek mythology regards the Kingfisher as a symbol of peace and prosperity.
The story goes that the image of Caysasay would repeatedly disappear in Taal church (and a house where it was once kept by a rich family) only to be found near Caysasay guarded by kingfishers. Once it was found near the river with kingfishers and candles encircling it. Certainly an odd apparition because kingfishers are known to be solitary. Locals believe that these birds are the divine custodians of the Virgin. Another time it went missing, a group of young girls saw its image reflected on the well not far from the church. Soon, a baroque styled wall with some oriental details was built to enshrine the wells. The curative reputation of these well’s water has never waned to this day. The narrow creek near the well is now dry but the well still holds plenty of water, even in high summer!
The image of the Virgin was caught in a net by a fisher folk, Juan Maningcad, while fishing in Pansipit. A wall painting inside the church depicts this incredible incident.
The image is that of the Blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Conception and it is said to had been discovered in early 1600’s.
The Birheng Gala (as old folks would sometime refer to the Virgin) is a 400 year old icon. Its popularity during the Spanish Philippine time was so high that galleon ships passing by would light up their cannons in her honor. It is this passion to care for the image that the townspeople fought over where the Virgin should be placed. The compromise was to have her spend days in the Basilica and the chapel in Labac!
The Chinese Filipinos takes the Virgin of Caysasay as Ma Tzu. It is venerated as a Chinese deity and a Catholic religious symbol.
Miracle stories about the Virgin of Caysasay abounds. I asked this lady to take a photo of us and after taking it she shared her life changing experience. All devotees have their “reasons for their devotion,” this lady said.
Science would always find materialist elucidation to all these—spiritual experiences are mere coincidences and whatever is felt are nothing but chemical reactions inside our brains. But to these Catholics it’s simple, needing no explanation, really. That God’s mercy and blessings are brought down to this earth through the powerful intercession of the most holy Virgin Mother.
The following day after this trip my car stalled near the church in Bayanan (not far from our subdivision in Muntinlupa). The rain was falling hard that afternoon. Good thing is that it’s near the neighborhood’s friendly battery shop where we’re regulars. I asked the store guy to help me jump start the car because I suspect that I drained the battery after leaving the hazards lights on while I’m in Mercury Drug. The car started after he plugged the spare battery which means that the battery was discharged. The following day, I had trouble again starting the engine. It barely started and so I decided to have it checked. In the shop the battery guy tested the battery and told me that the battery is dead. “Naku, wala na to halos zero na oh,” showing me his tester. He warned me not to travel as I would surely stall. I told him that just the other day I went to Taal. To this he said, “consider yourself lucky, that battery is dead and it needs to be replaced!” After hearing this, I whispered my thanks to the Virgin Mother.
Now, I have my story. My miracle of Our Lady of Caysasay story!