Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ocular Inspection at Watawat ng Lahi, Calamba City, Laguna

* a view of Lecheria Hill from Lecheria Barangay Hall

The activity related to the Rizal@150 Celebrations in which I can participate is the Rizal Conference to be held in Calamba City, Laguna on July 9. This is my first time to be involved in a history-related activity aside from writing history article snippets. Entitled “Muling Pagsilang: Pagdakila, Pag-unawa at Pagsasabuhay kay Rizal sa Buhay Pamayanan,” the whole-day activity is the last leg of the three-day conference on Rizal (which will start in UST then in Ateneo). The last part of the conference will be in the form of a field trip and this is where we are involved.

The itinerary for the tour includes Watawat ng Lahi and
the Rizal Shrine. The visit to the Watawat ng Lahi was particularly memorable as it was my first time to go there. I have always been planning to climb the Lecheria Hill where Watawat ng Lahi is found but I never had the occasion to do it.

* the main building of Watawat ng Lahi

* a big statue of Rizal standing above a globe;
notice the skull at Riz
al’s feet

* the ‘altar’ or stage inside the group’s main building

* the booklet given to us entitled “Mga Kaisipan ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal”
compiled by Allan A. Ong

The place is called Lecheria because it is the place where milk was gathered from cows during the Spanish times. The area of Lecheria is still relatively plain and the view from the top of Lecheria Hill must have been beautiful, seeing the multitude of cows spread across the wide plains. Watawat ng Lahi, on the other hand, traces its roots from the presence of what they call “Banal na Tinig” (or Divine Voices). The man who accommodated us Mr. Renato “Ka Rene” Gallardo was the one in charge of their main building and the one who told us of the group’s origins. The 'main' man of the group, almost equivalent to David of the Bible, was a man called Gadioso Parabuac [I am not so sure about the spelling] who established the group on December 20, 1936. The group used to have their own activities and rituals. After several years, priests from the Roman Catholic religion were able to join the group. From there some, if not all, of the Catholic’s rites and rituals were embraced and assimilated into the group.

* the building of Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi

* a statue of Rizal on the grounds of Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi

* a grotto-type structure on the grounds of Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi

* view of the footpath as we descend Lecheria Hill

* portion of the cemetery near Lecheria Hill

Ka Rene mentioned that there came a time when their members numbered around 20,000. But differences were bound to split the group into two: 1) the first one who were essentially traditionalists, believing Jose Rizal is not a god but merely their leader and 2) those led by the priests, who later embraced the belief that Jose Rizal was actually a god. The split gave birth to Samahan ng Watawat ng Lahi and Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi Lipi ni Rizal. But what I found surprising is that these two groups have their headquarters on Lecheria Hill too!

Today, Ka Rene said, they no longer accept new members because the “Banal na Tinig” has forbidden recruitments. But that statement was quite puzzling as it would only mean that they are to be extinct in the near future.

A single visit to the place is not enough to know the group. However, Ka Rene provided us with copies of booklets where we can read more about their group. Cult, organization, religion? Whatever they are, the existence of such group only shows the extent of Jose Rizal’s influence to the minds of the Filipinos. I wonder what Rizal would say if he sees that he is being venerated in this manner.


[How to go to Watawat ng Lahi, Calamba City, Laguna: From Manila, you can board a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Such buses are found near the Gil Puyat LRT Station and at EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City. Then drop off at Halang, Calamba City. This place is actually an intersection. If you face Mount Maquiling, you have to go to the left side of the main highway. Jeepneys bound for Calamba Bayan are passing through this street and you can hail them. Ask them to drop you off at the entrance up to Watawat ng Lahi. Or to be safe you can just ask the driver to drop you off at Lecheria Barangay Hall. The people there are accommodating and you can ask them for the directions to Watawat ng Lahi. By the way, Watawat ng Lahi is visible from the Barangay Hall.]
 

14 comments:

  1. my classmates and i decided to go to calamba for our thesis regarding iglesia watawat ng lahi. from your article, it seems that someone from the iglesia accompanied you in your studies. may i know how you get to know him and if we can have the same your you got? thanks. it will be a great help for us.

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  2. Hi Angerica. Our visit to Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi was part of the Rizal Conference which was held at Letran Calamba last month (see my other blog post here: http://pransisempilipinas.blogspot.com/2011/07/rizal-malay-diwa-puso-at-buhay_5364.html).

    Since I am based here in Calamba anyway, I suggest that you send your contact details to my e-mail address franciswritesnow [at] yahoo [dot] com or visit my 'Contact Pransism' link on the right side bar. I'd gladly accompany your group and refer you to people who might help you in your proposed study.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

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  3. hi, can i ask how to go there when you are coming from cavite ?

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  4. I can tell the direction if you're coming from Dasmariñas. From Palapala (which, if I remember it right, is near SM Dasmariñas), you can board a van bound for Crossing Calamba.

    Upon your arrival in Crossing Calamba Terminal, you can either hail a jeepney bound for Halang or a tricycle. But be reminded that tricycle drivers might charge you with fares considerably higher than what you'll pay for if you ride a jeepney.

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  5. Very informative and interesting hope that others will also visit that place. My parents were also member of Watawat ng Lahi. We hailed from Pangasinan but migrated in Laguna a decade ago.

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  6. Thank you Tesol for reading through this blog entry. I hope too that other Filipinos would get motivated to know more about Watawat ng Lahi.

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  7. hi do i need to inform the group prior a visit? or do they welcome walk ins?

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  8. Hi. Walk-ins are welcome as far as I know. The members of Watawat ng Lahi are very accommodating in general. However, I don't think you would be able to talk to the relatives of the founding members of the group. However, there is this man named Ka Rene who accommodates visitors and orients them about Watawat ng Lahi. Good luck on your visit.

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  9. Hi! Do you have any contact from Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi? Do they have any chapters aside from Laguna? And do you have any idea of the current number of members it has right now?

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  10. Hello. Actually I do not have any contact person from Watawat ng Lahi. Our visit there two years ago was organized by a professor in a nearby college. I suggest you visit the place personally. Based on my experience the members are generally hospitable. Good luck on your endeavor!

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  11. Hello, i'm from Italy, i'm very interested to know more on their flags , banners and symbols because i'm studying those topics and i'm doing a research on any kind of philippine flags and symbols; can you kindly provide me any info and image on those topicsor give me the adress of a member of that Iglesia who can help me? Thanks in advance.
    Mabuhay ka !
    Paolo

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    Replies
    1. Hi Paolo. If you are already here in the Philippines, you can check out the last part of this blog post regarding the directions on how to go to Lecheria Hill.

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  12. Hi! Thank you very much for this very informative blog! I am from Dasmariñas and currently conducting my thesis about the unpopular poems of Jose Rizal. I actually need to look for and talk to some Rizalistas, hoping I can gather info from them. Do you think there will be Rizalistas I can talk to if I go to Watawat ng Lahi without advising them of my visit first?

    And thank you for the directions in going to Watawat ng Lahi from Dasma :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anjel.

      Thank you for reading this post. As I recall you can go there as a walk-in. Be sure to bring along someone so that you will have company. The place can be considered already small community so it would better to introduce yourself immediately as a researcher.

      Thank you.

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