Ina Poon Bato - The Doting Queen of Zambales

Ina Poon Bato
In the remote province of Zambales were the Aetas lived for centuries comes a simple shrine where the Zambaleños flock for years who chose to live among them, and get this, even before the arrival of the Spanish missionaries. This is the wonders of the Nuestra Señora dela Paz of Zambales, or more popularly knows as Ina Poon Bato or "Apo Apang" to the Zambaleños.

Ina Poon Bato has garnered several devotees over the years from the locals of Zambales, it even reached its neighboring provinces, even reaching Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao even outside the Philippines and several miracles were reported through her intercession and it continuously happen up the present.

The Image

The venerated image of Ina Poon Bato is a wooden de tallado image based from the original statue that was currently kept at the Church of Iglesia Filipina Independiente or the Aglipayan Church. The image was looking at the beholder and presented with a flowing black hair, her hands in a gesture of prayer or offering. She is carved wearing the typical silhouette of Marian Images that are commonly seen in the country. In the case of Apo Apang, she is carved wearing a white dress with a blue cape which mimics the iconic style of the famed Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje of Antipolo Rizal complete with carved designs in her blue cape. The image is standing on a stony base as a reminder on how she was found by an Aeta.


The original image of Ina Poon Bato now
enshrined at the Iglesia Filipina
Independiente Church in Botolan,
Zambales
The discovery of Apo Apang

No one knows how the image arrived in Zambales or who carved the image yet there is a persistent legend on how the image came to the Aetas even before the Spanish Missionaries arrived. Djadig, a Aeta leader who was a special man revered for his unmatched skills in hunting had stopped to rest at the bank of the Pastac River when an ethereal voice filled the air, commanding, "Get up, Djadig. Look for me. Come and take me home with you."

The voice had come from the top of a towering rock where Djadig, alone, saw a beautiful lady shining like the sun and dressed in shimmering gold. Her hair was like the sunlight, her eyes dark and filled with compassion. He was drawn to the spot instinctively, like metal to a magnet, all the time his eyes entranced by the vision. As he drew closer his vision dematerialized and the beautiful Lady remained only an image carved on shining gold wood:"Take me home with you," the ethereal voice commanded again, and Djadig instinctively obeyed.

When he reached home, his wife was unwilling to believe his mysterious tale and out of anger, she threw the image into their fire pit. Flames shot up instantly, burning the walls and ceiling, and before help could arrive yet miraculously, the image of Ina Poon Bato was spared and intanct. With due honors, the Negritos reverently enshrined the image on the selfsame rock where Djadig had discovered it.

The arrival of the Missionaries and her fate in the later years

In 1607, shortly after the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries, (on some accounts, its the Dominicans who arrived in Zambales) arrived in Zambales, they heard stories of the Miraculous Lady of the Aetas.

Thinking this to be part of their "anito worship",the priest wanted to see the miraculous Lady.Upon seeing the image,the Recoletos missionaries  were amazed."This is unbelievable", cried the young friar."It's our Blessed Mother! How can she be here ahead of us!"the older priest said, "She must have paved the way for our coming."

The friars transferred the image to the Church.There She stayed until after the Philippine Revolution.After executing the Parish priest,Fr. Julian Jimenez,patriot rebels took the image to their newly established church, The Philippine Independent  Church.



Rosellyn Enciso Magsaysay with
a large image of Ina Poon Bato
The revival of the Devotion
Eventually in 1945, a Columban priest, Rev. Fr. Patrick Duggan was assigned to say Mass in some barrios including that of Poonbato. With the guidance of Bishop Byrne, donation for a piece of land was negotiated for a church in Poonbato. The donor was Mrs. Gerido from Manila. The church was constructed with the help of Elizabeth Chan, a mosaic artist who studied in Venice.

The priest  then went to the Aglipayan Church to have an idea of what the statue of Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje looked like which was supposed to be a copy of the original statue.In 1976, a replica made of the Ina Poon Bato image by the famous religious sculptor, Maximo Vicente.

The Propagation of the devotion

In 1981, moved by an inner prompting ,Mother Therese Vicente H.F.J., Foundress of the Holy Face of Jesus, borrowed the image and brought it to Mrs. Rosellyn Enciso Magsaysay for her to promote the devotion.The diocese of Zambales,under His Eminence Bishop Henry Byrne,gave the devotion and the mission ecclesiastical approval.

Then Fr.Duggan asked Rosellyn Magsaysay to replace his wooden Statue at the grotto that was damaged due to exposure to the rain and sunlight. Then restored by Mrs. Rosellyn Magsaysay.Fr. Duggan gave the wooden statue to her as a gift.Which is now known  as the International Pilgrim Image that has been canonically blessed by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter Square,Vatican,Rome.

The large image of Ina Poon Bato in the lahar debris
in 1991
Ina Poon Bato and the Pinatubo eruption

In 1991, one of the most catastrophic volcanic eruption in history took place in Central Luzon, the Eruption of Mount Pinatubo that killed millions of people and destroyed millions worth of crops and properties. However, A moving memento of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was the picture of Ina Poon Bato half buried in lahar at her grotto in Botolan,Zambales.

At the same time, Pope John Paul II received a statue of Ina Poon Bato wherein he led the people in prayer for the victims of Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

After the Mount Pinatubo eruption,the lost Shrine of Ina that Bishop Byrne constructed was buried in Lahar,now, a new shrine was constructed at the new site located in Loob Bunga relocaton Center in Botolan ,Zambales.

The present Church of Ina Poon Bato in Botolan, Zambales
The Miracles

Several Miracles were reported through the intercession of Ina Poon Bato that helped strengthened their devotion to the Mother of God over the years. Here are some of the accounts of the miracles of Apo Apang.

A lay woman was assigned in Guam met Rosellyn Magsaysay in Cebu and borrowed Ina Poon Bato for one week to visit different convents.In Manila,before returning Ina,she brought Her to her nephew's house where her father was paralyzed and can't talk for quite sometime.

During the family rosary recitation, all members of the family witnessed when his father answered the rosary very clearly.They attributed the cure to Ina.

A former mayor of Botolan was paralyzed and had been bedridden for years from an unknown illness and his limbs tightly bound to ease the pain.When the Pilgrim Image of Ina came to visit his town, he's surprised to find himself on his feet,standing for hours during the welcome program and supervising of the day's activities.

A devotee testified that when she was unconscious with pain in her stomach, the nuns headed by Sister Mary Ann who takes care of her placed a prayer card of Ina Poon Bato on her stomach and they all prayed. All of a sudden, she woke up and said she felt a big stone as heavy as a hollow block and was amazed upon knowing that it was only a prayer card of Ina Poon Bato and cured her permanently..

The Episcopal Coronation of
Ina Poon Bato
The Episcopal Coronation of the Ina Poon Bato

With numerous miracles that Ina Poon Bato wrought to her devotees, A diocese in Central Luzon area granted the request of the people to crown the image of Ina Poonbato at the Ina Poonbato Shrine in Botolan, Zambales on January 23, 2013. Iba Bishop Florentino Lavarias celebrated the Episcopal coronation.

The Episcopal coronation was held in recognition of the special reverence and devotion the Christian faithful of Zambales and other devotees have shown to Our Lady as Ina Poon Bato.

The devotion

The Feast day of Ina Poon Bato is celebrated every January 24th with much solemnity, especially in her home in Botolan, Zambales. Pilgrims flock the shrine to ask for her intercession and cures to their illness. The Aetas in turn still have high regard to Apo Apang through the centuries that she became an integral part of their lives.

Wherever the pilgrim image of Ina Poon Bato visits or she is visited by pilgrims to her shrine, She leaves behind blessings and miracles - from instant cures to financial help. Ina Poon Bato continues Her mission of bringing help and hope to those she visits in hospitals, churches, offices and private homes. She strengthens the faith of those she leaves behind and brings them closer to Her Son. 

Comments

  1. According to other historians, the original image of Ina Poonbato sa destroyed by the Aglipayans. Is the statue in the picture the original?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some say that it was destroyed, other said that it was hidden during the revolution.

      Delete
  2. May pagkakaiba puba sila nung original image?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a statue of Ina poon bato but it is missing the crown is there a way I can get a crown for the top of her head? I also want to know the miracle prayer

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is the original image really has the complete Marian elements? I was wondering if the image is not originally Marian for it was already there ahead of the missionaries. Like other images like Our Lady of Caysasay and de Guia, they are not originally Marian but "baptized" as such to spread Christianity. Please provide other original image...I may be able to use this as a historical study. By the way, I am a recollect.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good evening po �� I'm a grade 12 student from Tarlac National High School. Our subject, Contemporary Philippine Arts from the Regions, requires a copy of Ina Poon Bato Church floor plan. I tried searching its floor plan in the internet but I couldn't find one. If you'll allow me, I hope I could get a copy of it from the you. �� sorry for the disturbance. Thank you and God bless ��

    ReplyDelete

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