IN 1646, the Philippines defeated a formidable fleet of foreign invaders through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.

This year, thousands of devotees again gathered to commemorate the victory of La Naval de Manila, and at the same time pray for the defeat of another foreign threat—the Reproductive Health (RH) bill being championed by western population controllers.

With the theme “Ina ni Kristo, Ina ng Buhay,” the celebration started with the enthronement of the Blessed Mother’s image last Sept. 29 and ended with a grand procession last Oct. 9. A nine-day novena was held in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval from Sept. 30 to Oct. 8.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said in his homily last Oct. 8 that some of the provisions in the RH bill “negate the purpose of life.”

“Sinisira ng RH bill ang daluyan ng buhay. Eternal life is to know one true God,” he said. “Ang buhay ng tao ay buhay ng Diyos. Sino tayo upang hawakan ang buhay ng ibang tao?”

Ongtioco compared the protest of Christians against the RH bill to the sea battles of La Naval, when 65,000 Spaniards and Filipinos defeated 200,000 Dutch forces through their devotion to the Blessed Mother.

“Kalaban natin sa kasalukuyan ang mga naninira ng buhay at karangalan ng tao,” Ongtioco said. “Tumawag tayo kay Maria at [idulog] sa kaniya na tayo ay ilapit niya kay Hesus na ating buhay karangalan.”

Saying Filipinos must remember Mary like their respective mothers, UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. told devotees that remembrance becomes important as one grows older.

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“We often tend to forget [Mary], that’s why we need things that would remind us [about her]. Let us remember Mary’s greatness in her courage to respond to the angel. Because of Mary’s ‘yes,’ we obtained salvation,” he said in his homily last Oct 8.

Former UST rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., explained the negative effects of artificial contraceptives in his homily last Oct. 7.

“Ang mga contraceptives ay nilalason ang bahay-bata. Ginawa ang bahay-bata para paglagyan ng bata at hindi upang patayin ang bata,” Arceo said, adding that one should follow the footsteps of Mary who followed the will of God.

Humble beginnings

The feast of Our Lady of La Naval is celebrated every second Sunday of October in commemoration of the miraculous victory of Spanish Philippines in naval battles against Dutch invaders.

In 1646, 15 well-armed Dutch ships reached the Philippine islands to lead an invasion. The Philippines launched two old galleons to fight the Dutch forces, and was clearly at a disadvantage. Spaniards and Filipinos turned to Our Lady of the Rosary for help, and by miracle, they won five times in what was later called the Battle of La Naval.

The image of La Naval was sculpted by a Chinese artisan upon the request of then acting Governor General Don Luis Perez Dasmariñas. The head, hands, and the Holy Child of the 56-inch tall image are all made of ivory. The gems on its crown represent the different colors of the faculties and colleges of the University of Santo Tomas, where it was housed for 12 years before it was transferred to its permanent shrine in Sto. Domingo Church in the afternoon of October 10, 1954.

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