News and Features

Short Visit to the Museo de Nuestra Señora de Manaoag



Symbolic Welcome: Church heraldry is always a pleasure to try to decipher. The “M” stands for Mary surrounded by 12 stars in reference to the Book of Revelations. Also notice the Dominican Colors in the Rosary.

The Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan is a famous pilgrimage site for many Roman Catholics in the Philippines. But now, social scientists may have more reason to visit with the opening of the Museo de Nuestra Señora de Manaoag right beside the church. The shrine having been recently elevated to the rank of Minor Basilica by Pope Francis (Santos 2014), the museum is a fitting addition to propagate remembrance of the history of the Church and its impact on the socio-economic realities of the country. The process of elevation to Minor Basilica is in itself a worthy area of research from the perspective of organizational sociology in consideration of the worldwide bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church.


From the Pope: Papal action elevating the parish church to the rank of Minor Basilica with its attendant benefits. The centralized model of the Roman Catholic Church can be contrasted with more democratic models of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or the autocephalous model of the Orthodox Church.

The museum contains images of Mary, her vestments, and perfumes. There are other life-size statues which model the different attires worn by those  who received Holy Orders. There are also liturgical instruments that date back to Spanish Era in the Philippines. The walls are lined with information about the piece on exhibit. The visitor is bound to acquire a trove of information about Dominican activities in the area. Sources in the museum seem to indicate an intricate relationship between the Minor Basilica and the 1898 Philippine Revolution. If you are a critical theorist, you may find it an interesting research venture to trace how the Revolution is portrayed from the perspective of the museum and other church documents in contrast to secular sources.


But the most striking to me is the collection of letters from devotees leaving petitions for the patron of the Minor Basilica. The enduring potency of religion as a coping mechanism as well as the belief in spirits actively intervening in the ordinary Filipino’s life is revealed through these letters. One can even be tempted to look at it from a class perspective: who offers petitions and who offers gems?


Overall, be it small, the museum is worth looking at if only to delve deeper into its collections of artifacts and documents. The diligent sociologist of religion would find much worth in visiting the area.   

How to get to the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag: Take the Manaoag-bound bus and ask to be dropped off at the Shrine.

Yvan Ysmael Yonaha is a Development Practitioner, Technology Enthusiast and Productivity Buff. Yvan holds an AB Degree in Sociology from UP Diliman. He is currently an instructor in the Department of Social Science of the University of the Philippines – Los Banos. Follow him on Google+, or Facebook.