If Our Lady of the Abandoned Church could speak, it would tell a turgidly compelling story of my family genealogy and a town's roaring breakthrough from its meek beginnings in the 16th century.
In 1572, Agustinian priests built an ecclesiastical landmark in Barangka, Marikina, with bamboo and palm leaves. This humble sanctuary among a plunk of huts on a hillock, which was then called 'The Visita at Chorillo,' became the cynosure of the religious. Under the supervision of apostolic ruler Fray Pedro de Arce, the Jesuits took on the spiritual welfare of the Marikeños in 1630 and another chapel was erected in Jesus Dela Peña. After seven years and five decades, the tables turned in 1687 and the Agustinians regained power over Marikina. The church moved to San Roque, assuming a modern, concrete facade.Earthquakes almost disintegrated OLA twice in 1816 and 1830. And as if that wasn't enough, fire marred the house of God in 1891. Fast forward to the 1970's, after enduring friars' whims and the appalling catastrophes, the church started to bear witness to innumerable weddings in my father's side of the family. You name it, the Sys did it at the same Roman Catholic dwelling -- baptisms, weekly confessions, the regular Sunday masses, and sadly, even the funerals. OLA was angkong's (Chinese for grandpa) and papa's final destination before we took them to their final resting place. My ama (grandma) used to go there every single day of the week in the 80's, until she began to consider born-again Christianity in the late 90's.
The year is 2008. I bet OLA misses the Sy clan more than it ever did. It's been three years and ten months since papa passed away, and like a spell was cast, we haven't done anything spectacular at church, except hearing mass occasionally with my own family. I bet she sheds tears every once in a while, wondering when the Sys would take a break from their revoltingly busy lives and give themselves a chance to reunite.