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The Our Lady de Buko de Lipa

This image was NOT taken from the so-called "apparition."

I am trying to recall – and am ultimately failing – if this so-called apparition of the Blessed Mother in Lipa occurred in the eighties or early the following decade. While I am Catholic, I rather sometimes tend to be sceptical of certain so-called phenomena that other Catholics tend to quickly believe.

Thus, although most everyone I knew went to see this so-called apparition – and many out of sheer curiosity than fervour – I was waiting for something more definitive from the accounts that I was hearing before I would allow myself to be coaxed to go.

The so-called apparition was supposed to have happened at that corner of the street leading into the Granja area of the city if one is driving south from the city centre’s main avenue.

In a manner of speaking, the big to-do was something of a mass hysteria; and I found it remarkable how quickly word spread and how some people could actually get themselves to see what they always wanted to see, to begin with.
I do not know how the big to-do got started; but apparently somebody happened to have looked up at some coconut trees rising behind some houses at the street corner and noticed that there seemed to be an image of the Blessed Mother etched upon the strips of coconut leaves.

The somebody told somebody who told somebody who told somebody; and in no time at all there was a growing crowd of people at the corner looking up and craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the so-called image.

Word about this passed from mouth to mouth until people from neighbouring towns and cities themselves started to hear of the alleged phenomenon. I seem to remember – although memory is naturally hazy – that it was even covered by a news crew.

Soon – or, at least, from what I heard – vigils were being held at the street corner and people came from far and wide to light their candles and pray the rosary.

The members of the clergy, as they rather tend to do when these so-called supernatural phenomena are alleged to happen, were expectedly non-committal about their remarks.

Of course, they welcomed the devotion to the Blessed Mother; but any priest asked what he thought of the so-called image immediately went into a soliloquy about how the Church, while not ruling out the supernatural, rather tended to take its time before actually lifting a finger to conduct an investigation.

My own scepticism stemmed from the fact that the so-called apparition was suspiciously conditional – the condition being that the street lights had to be turned on in the early evening before the Blessed Mother appeared.

In other words, the alleged image was not visible during the daytime.

My suspicion was that the street lights were being blocked by some fronds to coincidentally create what appeared to be an image of the Blessed Mother; and people would see what they wanted to see anyway.

Even up to when interest in the phenomenon subsequently fizzled out, I did not think that people ever arrived at a consensus about what they actually saw. There were those who swore that they saw the Blessed Mother amongst the fronds.

Some said that they saw a blurry silhouette. Others went and came away having seen absolutely nothing.

The apparition was even given names by some. There were those who called the phenomenon the apparition of the Our Lady of Granja. Still others called it – and, I suspect, more irreverently than with any real fervour – the Our Lady de Buko.

People were inventive and even conjectured all sorts of tales in attempts to explain why the Blessed Mother chose that street corner – of all places – to make an apparition.

One such story said that the Blessed Mother was making a statement to the people who lived in the neighbourhood, many of whom had turned their backs on the Roman Church to become born-again Christians.

As I expected, interest soon died down and people stopped going to the street corner. I think the mere fact that it did was probably the strongest proof that there was never really an apparition.

If there were any messages given by the Blessed Mother – as She has been known to do in recognised apparitions – I do not believe that I heard of any.

In a manner of speaking, the big to-do was something of a mass hysteria; and I found it remarkable how quickly word spread and how some people could actually get themselves to see what they always wanted to see, to begin with.

On the other hand, since I never went, then I will forever be unable to draw any conclusions based on something that I actually saw or failed to see. Who really knows? After all, this is Lipa – and the Blessed Mother did indeed come to visit once before.

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