In 1952, socialism became an attractive ideology for some Kapampangans. This, coupled with the still-felt poverty and hardships caused by the recent 2nd World War divided many of our cabalens, many of whom began questioning their faith. To counter these divisive elements, then Bishop of San Fernando Cesar Ma. Guerrero D.D. founded the Cruzada de Caridad y Buen Voluntad (Crusade of Charity and Goodwill) and with the Virgen de los Remedios as its patron, began a continuous series of parish visits bringing the revered image wherever they went. The original image was housed in the church of Baliti in San Fernando, which became a parish in 1943.
The first visit was made on 15 April 1952 in Masantol town, and from thereon, the pilgrimages of the Virgin proved to be a true remedy for the ills which threatened religion and peace in the province. As a result, many rediscovered their faith and returned to the fold of the Church. In deep gratitude for the conversions and miracles, the image received the ultimate honor with a coronacion canonica (canonical coronation) in San Fernando on 8 September 1956, an event that was unrivalled in fervor and pageantry.
The most well-known names in Philippine politics and the highest officials of the Church attended the historic event starting with an 8 o’clock Mass at the San Fernando Cathedral officiated by Msgr. Andres Bituin and assisted by Msgrs. Francisco Cancio (Deacon) , Serafin Ocampo (Sub-deacon) and Pedro Punu (Predicator). At 2 p.m., the image was processioned from the Cathedral to the Capitol. Two hours later, all the church bells in Pampanga tolled to signal the solemn coronation.
The gold crown and the halo of the Virgin were donated by Dña Pacita Angeles vda. de Tayag. The precious stones which encrusted the crown (“batung brillantes”) were through the generority of the Caballeros de Colon (Knights of Columbus) along with other rich benefactors. These were blessed by the Nuncio Apostolico to the Philippines, Egidio Vagrozzi, also the Archbishop of Myra. Archbishop Pedro Santos, assisted by Pampanga’s governor Rafael Lazatin then crowned the image amidst the warm applause of the crowd.
Another Holy Mass for the newly crowned Virgin was offered by Bishop Alejandro Olalia with the Te Deum said by Msgrs. Cosme Bituin, Jesus Tizon and Felix Sicat. Senator Gil Puyat and Hon. Diosdado Macapagal of the House of Representatives exalted the Virgin with a “pawaga”. Finally, Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerrero, together with Msgrs. Bartolome Zabala and Santiago Guanlao paid homage to the queen with the Salve Regina.
The 43rd year commemoration of the coronation of Virgen de los Remedios in San Fernando on 8 September 1999 proved to be most meaningful because it was the culminating event of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the (Arch) diocese. With Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto D.D. presiding, the festive rites were conducted at the Pampanga Sports Complex. The grateful Kapampangans present offered their thanksgiving to their beloved Indu and Sto. Cristo del Perdon for safeguarding their balen from the destructive Pinatubo eruption.
Many likenesses of the Virgen were created for enshrinement in many Kapampangan homes. We still keep in our altar a plaster image of Virgen de los Remedios with a tin halo surmounted by 12 stars. A 45-year-old framed photo of our Indu also rests on our altar, attired in blue raiments, face serene and hands folded in prayer. She may have looked Caucasian with her milk-white complexion and deep-brown flowing hair, but to millions of Pampanga devotees through the years, she is the one true Kapampangan mother of us all, the source of our deepest pride and joy.
(21 September 2002)