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JADSpirits Travel Log

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Shrine of the Miraculous Apung Mamacalulu, Angeles City, Pampanga

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We have been living in Pampanga since 2004, 2 years in Angeles City and almost 8 years in Mabalacat City…two neighboring cities. Ever since, I knew that Friday is “Apu Day” in Angeles City because of the bargain shopping and the best time to go is early morning. But I never realized how significant Friday is until we visited the Apung Mamacalulu Shrine last Monday.

July 28, 2014, Monday, I was on holiday from work due to swapping implemented by our company…the declared holiday is July 29 as Eid’l Fitr (end of Ramadan). We had a lazy morning at home after Ate Bev and Daniz left for school and at noon we left for Angeles City. We had our lunch at Downtown Café and then proceeded to the nearby Holy Rosary Parish Church but it was closed. Before we left, Jonjie ask the church personnel where to find Apung Mamacalulu Shrine. 
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Through the direction given to us and by the visible signs along the route, we reached the area with a few wrong turns and asking where is the right way to the shrine, twice. When we arrived, the church was closed but we were told by one of the staff that the side entrance to the right is open.  When we entered, it was just the two of us…
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I do not have any idea what it is, I only understand “Apung”, a Kapampangan word with many meanings depending on the use…Lord, saint, grandfather / elder and it’s the first time I heard “Mamacalulu”. And as such, I will leave this part to Mr. Google to ensure that events, dates, names and places are what it should be,
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Apung Mamacalulu (Merciful Lord) or the Santo Entierro (Holy Burial) of Angeles City, is a statue depicting the burial of Jesus Christ and is enshrined at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Christ our Lord of the Holy Sepulchre in Barangay Lourdes Sur, Angeles City, Pampanga in the Philippines. Thousands flock to hear the special Holy Mass celebrated every Friday at the Shrine.

DSC_0862Apu, as the lying statue of Jesus is fondly called by devotees, has become a symbol of hope for people longing for a connection to the divine especially when all else failed. His image is supine, bruised, caught in the final act of love and sacrifice that has spelled salvation for those who believe in Him. Every kiss that lands His badly bruised feet or a touch that grazes His battered hand comes with a deep conviction that through His death and resurrection, He made all things new. Apung Mamacalulu bestows mercy beyond the grave.

Around 1828 to 1838, Father Macario Paras, the parish priest of Angeles, ordered the image of Apung Mamacalulu to be sculpted by Buenaventura, a well-known sculptor of that day. It was first installed in a little sanctuary built by Padre Paras on his own premises, which may have also been located somewhere within Barrio Lourdes Sur (then known as Talimundoc, within the vast Paras and Dayrit estates) where it became an object of veneration among the pious inhabitants of the place.

About 1896 or 1897 during the Philippine Revolution, the image and the carriage were moved and transported to another municipality for safekeeping. During the tumultuous years of the revolution, the image was kept in barrio Sapangbato. It was brought back to the church sometime in 1904, where it remained to this day. The image is taken out on two occasions during procession on Good Friday and during the fiesta held in October.

The execution of Roman Payumu
  • Around the middle of October 1897, a band of Capampangan revolutionaries staged a raid on Bo. Talimunduc (now Brgy. Lourdes Sur).
  • Upon learning of this, the Spanish cazadores ("hunters") and local Macabebe guardia civil (civil guards) stationed at the casa tribunal (town hall) sprang into action and rushed to Bo. Talimunduc...but the Katipunan band had already fled towards Bo. Cayapa.
  • The platoon who rushed to Bo. Capaya found the barrio deserted...but in an outlying field, they found a lone farmer, Roman Payumu, tending his baritan, a small field of a special grass called barit that was sold and fed to calesa (carriage) horses.
  • The platoon ganged-up on Roman, and knowing nothing of what transpired in his village, answered he knew nothing what the soldiers were talking about...and was branded as a big liar and was quickly accused of being a Katipunero himself!
  • At about noon on October 25, 1897, the second day of the Quinario devotion, the Capampangan assistant priest, Fr. Vicente Lapus, was sent to Roman Payumu, by the Spanish parish priest of Angeles, Most Rev. Rufino Santos, O.S.A., to hear his last confession for he was sentenced to death by firing squad that afternoon.
  • As a last request, Roman asked if he could pray to Apung Mamacalulu in the church for the last time. His request was granted, but all doors were locked for the siesta (Spanish nap time).
  • Desperate to be saved from execution, innocent as he was, Roman decided to pray near the reclining statue of Apung Mamacalulu.
  • The Spanish and local Macabebe soldiers broke into loud laughter seeing the kneeling Roman in a feverish frenzy of emotion. But unknown to them, Fr. Vicente Lapus was standing right behind the closed church door listening and watching everything through the small cracks.
  • As Roman limped forward, he felt that the rope tying his elbows had become loose from the manhandling! Realizing that his arms had become free, he run away and darted towards the sugarcane fields right behind the church (now the Holy Angel University campus).
  • Some 100 feet inside the dense sugarcane field, Roman fell into a luctun trap, which was full of dried leaves and trash. (These were pits – 1 square meter wide and 2 meters deep where young locusts, still without wings called luctun, were driven into by groups of peasants, and later cooked into sinigang (sour soup) or candied with muscovado sugar.) Roman hid himself at the bottom of the pit and covered his body with the trash. 
  • The Spaniards searched the sugarcane fields behind the church and even thrust their long bayonets in all of the luctun traps they found. They combed the fields up to Siniura, Porac but failed to find Roman, who, all the while, was hiding about a hundred feet behind the church!
  • Those who knew of the mysterious salvation of Roman from certain death presented no alternative but to accept wholeheartedly Roman’s own personal but downright simple explanation to the said phenomenon: The Divine Intervention of Apung Mamacalulu!
  • Roman returned to his old zacatero livelihood and remained an ever loyal bearer of Apung Mamacalulu till his old age and his natural death. 
  • The story of Roman Payumu’s salvation from a firing squad and subsequent search became the basis of Angeles City’s “Fiesta nang Apu” celebrations every last Friday of October, starting from the first Apu Fiesta on October 28, 1897. 
  • At the same time, his story spread not only in Pampanga but throughout Central Luzon and started the popular devotion to Apung Mamacalulu for millions of devotees up to the present time, many of whom truthfully attest to innumerable personal petitions and favors granted by the Apu.

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Jonjie and I chose the pew on the isle a few rows from the front and said our own prayers silently. Afterwards, the same staff we talked earlier told us that we could go near “Apu” pointing the way. We follow the way that lead us to the back of the altar but there is someone in deep prayer. When it was our turn, I was surprised when Jonjie touched Apu…a seldom moment. While waiting for my turn, I stand beside him and touched the glass enclosure near Apu’s left hand and felt “at peace”…I finished my prayer holding Apu’s hand and left feeling lighthearted and rested…

Before we left the premises, we took some more pictures of the church, the old Filipino house beside it and the gardens.

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We really had a wonderful day. And on our way home, these are some of the views…inside Clark. 


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