The Quiapo Church of the South 

THE origin and construction of the church of Jesus in the Holy Sepulchre in Landayan, San Pedro Laguna were shrouded in mystery and faith.

It is said that prior to its construction, a mysterious old man known only as Lolo Uweng would go around the town asking people to bring nails and other materials to be used in building the chapel.

Diocesan Shrine of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcre. Photo By Red Magtoto
Diocesan Shrine of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcre. Photo By Red Magtoto

Magandang umaga po, pwede ho ba kayong magdala ng pako sa Landayan,pakidala na lang po sa simbahan (Good morning can you please bring some nails to the church in Landayan). 

The efforts of the mysterious man known as Lolo Uweng reportedly led to the eventual construction of the church, thus narrated 67 year old devotee Consuelo Williams.

She told the story while waiting for her turn to take a bath at Lolo Uweng’s Balon ng Santo Sepulcro. 

Lolo Uweng is the black Nazarene encased in a camarin which was placed inside the church’s visita for veneration. Uweng was the usual nickname for Emmanuel which means God with Us and the original nickname of the Holy Image was Lelong Uweng. However the term evolved from Lelong to Lolo, until it eventually became Lolo Uweng .

According to elders, foreigners claimed that the old man who introduced himself as Emmanuel Salvador del Mundo invited them to visit his home which was located near the big acacia trees of Landayan, also near the barangay’s gym at present time.

The man who invited them resembled the image in the Holy Sepulchre and his place is a church fronting the big acacia trees which is the last two remaining acacia trees alive in the barangay.

Every Wednesday of the Holy Week, Consuelo is taking a bath as part of her religious ritual. “In taking a bath, I feel like all my sins are forgiven,” she said. “It is refreshing and uplifting that’s why I better take a bath here rather than go for a swimming vacation”.

Since 1965, Consuelo is already actively visiting Lolo Uweng every third week of Friday of the month. He knew Lolo Uweng through testimonials of friends and other devotees. She recalled that it was not yet a well maintained shrine before. 

 

Historical account

At the entrance of the church, there is a summary of the historical version of Lolo Uweng. It states that an image of the dead Jesus was found in the lakeshore of Landayan, San Pedro, Laguna. Since it was believed that the image is miraculous, the people of Landayan kept it and encased it in a camarin which was placed inside the visita for veneration. 

The event gave way to the devotion of Jesus in the Holy Sepulchre accompanied by stories regarding the miraculous icon as testified by both local parishioners and the devotees from nearby provinces.

The administrators of the Parish of Santo Sepulcro published the first official history of the image of Lolo Uweng in 2003. The then Parish Admin. Msgr. Jerry Bitoon led the submission of the document to the Diocese of San Pablo. 

 

With the support of the document as fundamental basis and after having considered the petition of many devotees of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcre in the Parish of Santo Sepulcro in Landayan administered by the Reverend Father Jeremias O. Oblepias Jr., the Parish received its title as Diocesan Shrine of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcre on December 1, 2006.

Devotees fetch their Holy water from Lolo Uweng's miraculous well. Photo By Red Magtoto
Devotees fetch their Holy water from Lolo Uweng's miraculous well. Photo By Red Magtoto

 

Depicting Bible’s writings

Having devotees from Laguna and other provinces, the shrine was called the ‘Quiapo Church of the South’. The image was seen after the World War II beside the Laguna de Bay in Landayan. It was then brought to the nearby chapel to honor St. Michael.

There so many versions of Lolo Uweng story but for the caretaker who served for more than five years at Lolo Uweng’s Balon ng Santo Sepulcro, 47 year old Rodrigo Vierneza will only trust the accounts of his parents who were legit residents of the barangay. 

Vierneza said his parents told him that Lolo Uweng was a piece of wood found on the bay. “Pagdarating ng hapon, yung nagaagaw dilim, ang mga mangingisda pinuntahan nila yan,” Vierneza narrated. “Noong nakita nila yan kahoy, kinuha nila at pinaukit hanggang naging si Lolo Uweng”.

The 2, 016-square-meter shrine houses the life-size wooden image of Lolo Uweng that was found in the 19th century at the Laguna de Bay.

When Vierneza was a former altar boy, he somehow believed what elders told that Lolo Uweng roams around to ask for help. Lolo Uweng even takes a bath in the Holy Well based on stories. According to him, the well was just an ordinary toilet, place for fetching water and laundry until every Friday people who trek to the area claimed that they were healed with the water from the well.  

Consuelo testified that the water in the well heals her, devoted her time to visit the place despite  residing near the Malate, Maynila.

The local stories are similar with what disciple Mark wrote in the Bible (Mark 3:7-12) which states that Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, a large crowd from Galilee followed – for He healed many, so that those diseases were pushing forward to touch him.

In the modern time, faith healers visit first the well before they go to heal sick persons according to Vierneza. “It seems they make the well alive through their prayers,” He said. “Until it turns into miracles, many were healed since I find time to talk to them”.

 

Funds for the Future Cathedral

With their faith getting stronger composed of more than 15, 000 devotees per week, the local officials are concerned with their safety and wanted a bigger place to accommodate them.

According to Aileen Prejola, administrative clerk of Brgy. Landayan, they installed more than seven CCTV cameras located in every corner of the place for the safety and security of the devotees.

Prejola added that there is a proposed construction of the cathedral to be located near Lolo Uweng’s Carinderia, along the entrance of the barangay to accommodate more devotees. The current shrine will be maintained.

Aside from the Sunday collections, the Shrine is accepting other donations. They are thinking for a fund raising activity in cooperation with the local officials.

At present, Lolo Uweng is again asking for help to fund His new bigger Holy Place that could accommodate the growing number of devotees.

Lolo Uweng's dress and cotton-made bedshit are changed every year. Photo By Red Magtoto
Lolo Uweng's dress and cotton-made bedshit are changed every year. Photo By Red Magtoto


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