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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chinese Devotees Celebrate Festival of Ma Tzu

Thousands of Chinese devotees from different parts of the country trooped to the Ma-Cho Temple, here, on Saturday for the annual celebration of the miraculous Virgin of Caysasay or Ma-Tzu – a Chinese deity of the Sung Dynasty.
The celebration started early in the morning with a procession from Taal, Batangas, where pilgrims traveled to La Union carrying the six-inch image of the Virgin which most Chinese believe is the reincarnation of their “sea goddess” (Ma-Tzu).
“Pilgrims departed very early from Taal (Batangas, where the original image was discovered). It is the same activity over the years where the Chinese community worship and honor Ma-Tzu,” said a Chinese devotee.
Anita Cy, a member of the Virgin of Caysasay Foundation, said that the pilgrims brought the image of Ma-Tzu to Taal for a mass at the Basilica of St. Martin where the Virgin was enshrined. They returned to the Temple here on the same day for the conduct of various activities including the dragon parade, lion dance and procession around the city proper.
After the procession, devotees Xi Lin Chan and son John requested that they carry the image back to its original place at the Temple here.
“The celebration culminates with cultural shows and offerings at the Temple—a structure of mixed Christian and Taoism nestled atop of a hill overlooking the sea and was built in 1976 in honor of Ma-Tzu,” Cy added.
History states that Ma-Tzu’s birthday is being celebrated annually on March 23 of the Chinese lunar calendar, in all Ma-Tzu temples.
Records revealed that the Virgin was first seen by a fisherman in 1603 at the Pansipit River in Barangay Caysasay, Taal , Batangas. The village is a sanctuary of “casay-casay” birds or kingfisher.
Spanish prelates and authorities learned of the discovery of the image and immediately proceeded to the house of the fisherman. Upon seeing the Virgin, the visitors allegedly vowed and worshiped her.
Since then, the image was brought by the prelates and enshrined inside the church in Taal where they honored her with masses.
The creed of the Virgin, which was called by the Catholic Church as “Our Lady of Immaculate Conception,” was recognized by the Pope of the Catholic hierarchy in 1854.
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