The Miracle Hunter  

Manaoag, Phillipines (1610)


Traditionally Approved

40 - 999 1400 - 1499
1000 - 1099 1500 - 1599
1100 - 1199 1600 - 1699
1200 - 1299 1700 - 1799
1300 - 1399 1800 - 1899

Vatican Approved
Bishop Approved
Coptic Approved
Approved for Faith Expression
Apparitions to Saints
Unapproved Apparitions

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag

  Our Lady of Guadalupe  


A middle aged farmer who was walking home heard a Lady's mysterious voice. He looked around and with great awe he saw the radiant Lady with a Rosary on her right hand and a Child on her left as she stood on a cloud veiling a treetop. The man fell on his knees. He told the people of the apparition. And soon right on the spot where the Lady appeared a chapel was built. A town quickly flourished around it and was called "Manaoag".




According to tradition, a middle aged farmer was on his way from a grueling day in his farm. Foremost in his mind, of course, was his family. He worried about his home and his crops which he knew would be laid to waste any time the raiders come for another depredation. Faced with this hopeless prospect, he resorted to the wellsprings of his faith. He has been taught by the good Padre to have full trust and faith in the goodness and mercy of God and in the protection offered by the Heavenly Mother. These thought came into him. He signed resignedly to Virgin Mary and somehow his fears vanished as he continued his slow homeward. As he followed the path from the hill in the deepening dusk, he became aware of a mysterious light coming from somewhere. He turned to the west to assure himself that he was not being deceived, and sure enough he saw that the sun has set. He made a full and turned his gaze to the light- a tree nearby. Instantly he recognized the radiant face of a woman holding an infant in her arms. Unable to grasp that significant of the phenomenon and overcome by superstition, he wanted to run. In a moment of hesitation, he heard a sweet voice called out his name. He stood transfixed at the smiling face of the mysterious Lady. He kept down, she continued in her singularly sweet voice. "Son, I want a church built here in my honor. My children shall receive many favors in this place."


Overflowing with joyin that extraordinary experience, the man told his tale to his wife, children, relatives and friends. But when he went to tell it to the parish priest he got a different reception. The old Padre not only did not believe him but went on to insinuate that the man was suffering from hallucination that was induced by the extreme heat of the day.

Nevertheless, the story spread far and wide. People in the neighboring settlements heard of it and they came to see for themselves. These pilgrims went home not only assured of the truth of the event but but also felt that their petitions had been answered. The pilgrimage to the Lady developed into a least once a year event to fulfill a vow, make new petition to her, and offer their devotion to her.

Coming home from their visit to the place of the Lady's appearance and on being asked along the way from where they came, the early pilgrims would point to the general directions of the settlement and answer “ Dimad Apo ya Mantataoa ”, or from the Lady who Calls. In time the rest of the words in the phrase were dropped and a derivation was substituted - MANAOAG. This remained the name of the town.


A crude chapel made of light materials and nipa was erected on the spot where the Virgin is said to have appeared. On its altar was placed the Spanish statue of our Lady of the Holy Rosary which Fr. Juan de San Jacinto brought from Mexico.


In order to give the Virgin a more fitting house for veneration, a large wooden church was erected by Fr. Diego de Ballesteros side by side with the original mission chapel of Santa Monica in Baloquin river. The construction was meticulously supervised by the same priest who originally believed that the alleged vision of the rural folk was merely the product of the tropical heat.

1669 or 1670

When the new church was completed and the transfer of the image was set, a mysterious incident happened. In the morning of that day a large crowed assembled by the nipa chapel to accompany the Lady to her home. But the devout congregation was dumbfounded when some people rushed in shouting that the new church had disappeared. The priest and some of the people rushed to verify the news and could not find any trace of the church on the site. The people gave countless interpretations of the mystery, but everybody agreed that the Lady did not want her throne at any other place except at the spot she indicated, in her appearance several decades ago.

The enthusiasm of the inhabitants and the pilgrims became even more ardent after the disappearance of the Baloquin church. Everyone was more convinced that the vision was true, that it was divine land and more could hinder it. Hence, plans were laid out to build a larger and stronger church made of bricks to replace the small rundown chapel.


A very devout Spanish caballero and member of the Dominican Third Order, Don Gaspar Gamboa and his wife Dona Agatha Yangta promised to shoulder whatever cost the construction would incur. In the same year, the construction was started. Many laborers were hired but there were others who volunteered their services. As others baked clay for the bricks, others would carry the finished materials to the construction site where they were placed on the planned area. After many days of work, it became a magnificent edifice. The natives and especially the pilgrims were delighted at the new home of the Blessed Mother.

The façade of the church gaped with three big doors. Above each of these were three huge wooden windows that gave enough light and color to the choir left. To the left, a soaring cylindrical tower of monumental beauty was built, of solid stones.


Simultaneously with the construction of the new church, Don Gaspar built a big chapel of bricks near the Baloquin river. This was not to replace the church that mysteriously disappeared, but as a place for the image since all penitential processions of the pilgrims traditionally started from this point. Not a trace of this church can be found today; each stone and brick has been carried away by pilgrims who treasured relics and souvenirs of this visit to the ever watchful Virgin of Manaoag.


A very devout Spanish caballero and member of the Dominican Third Order, Don Gaspar Gamboa and his wife Dona Agatha Yangta promised to shoulder whatever cost the construction would incur. In the same year, the construction was started. Many laborers were hired but there were others who volunteered their services. As others baked clay for the bricks, others would carry the finished materials to the construction site where they were placed on the planned area. After many days of work, it became a magnificent edifice. The natives and especially the pilgrims were delighted at the new home of the Blessed Mother.

The façade of the church gaped with three big doors. Above each of these were three huge wooden windows that gave enough light and color to the choir left. To the left, a soaring cylindrical tower of monumental beauty was built, of solid stones.


Don Gaspar, the chief patron of new church, signed the perpetual document turning over the edifice and the Baloquin chapel to the Dominican Province of the Holy Rosary.


Having taken possession and care of the sanctuary church, the Dominican fathers started renovating the interior. Rosary images were installed to enhance the splendor of the interior, and a thick wall was built to the divide the nave in order to give room to a spacious sacristy. The remodeling took 30 years to finish but the real artistic touch was yet to follow.


Huge columns were erected at the sides of the chapel of Our Lady. Each one supported a medallion representing each one of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Also, in addition that year, the Lady was enthroned in a case gilded with solid silver.


Four successive earthquakes so weakened the structure and it crumbled to pieces. After that catastrophe, a makeshift shelter inside the remaining walls was built for our Lady so the congregation and pilgrims could continue their devotions to her and they despite the inconveniences.


No immediate effort was made to rebuild the church, instead a huge bell weighing 2,000 kilos was purchased.


The parish priest made a study of materials and they decided that corrugated galvanized iron was a better roof than tiles. But hardly had the roof been placed, when together intense earthquake struck and damage the church. The soaring tower cracked from the top bottom and was condemned as hazard. It was manually torn down and its bells were lowered down. For a long period of time the bells stayed under the trees behind the church, exposed to the elements.


Fr. Hilario del Campo commenced the restoration of damage portions of the church. Wanting to make sturdier and larger structure, he made deep drilling at the transepts ad filled these with concrete. The four huge columns that support the dome of the present church rest on the 10-meter foundation which he laid. Repair and restoring work had gone for a decade and was nearing completion when every new addition buckled down.

To provide shelter for Our Lady of the Rosary and a repository of the sacred vessels including the silver altar, a small bamboo chapel was built at the site of the church by making use of the old rubbles. Huge reinforcing columns, 3 meters in diameter were built to reinforce the walls.


When the wings and roofing were blowing, the thick walls were already standing and roofing it has started. The work, however, was badly hampered by the revolution. The priests hid themselves from the insurgents and the laborers were outlawed.


Inevitably, the Spanish priests were captured and brought to Manila as detainees. But before that, Fr. Jose Puente, O.P. was able to smuggle to image of our Lady from Manaoag to Dagupan for safekeeping.

The flight of the image from Manaoag to Dagupan was no less heroic than the earlier trials. Fr. Puente knew that this attempts, cannot be kept secret from the people and that the sooner or later the insurgents would know about it. He was sure that there as an attempt to capture the image and him with it. He also knew that he could rely on no one except on his faith in the Divine Providence.

He loaded the image in a carabao-cart and started for Dagupan. On the way, simple peasant men volunteered to accompany him. Armed with bolos, fought the insurgents who staged an ambush. Not a few of them sacrificed their lives in that battle.

Finally, the Lady reached Dagupan as if in exile. She took shelter in Dagupan Church. Every now and then news would leak that the insurgents would ransack the church and divest it of its precious ornaments and sacred vessels. But every time these plots became known, pios laymen, especially the Dominican teriaries would secretly bring the image to their homes. Here, the Lady who is the refuge of sinners became a refugee from sinners.

May 10, 1898

The ravaging insurgents ransacked the makeshift chapel in Manaoag and divested it of the treasures that were still housed there. After having looted the church of its valuables, the insurgents burned it down.

Looting of the churches was the order of the day during this period. the insurgents were in bad need of metals to cast the cannons, firearms and ammunitions. Even the vicar general of Vigan Fr. Gregorio Aglipay, made several circular letters admonishing and ordering Catholic Parish priest to hand over to the military at the Jefature in Dagupan the much needed metals from their churches ”for the sake of God and country.”


The Philippines church suffered a lot during the Filipino-Spanish American War. Parochial churches in Pangasinan that were manned by Spanish Dominicans were left without shepherds. A wave of nationalism brought about demands that these churches be turned over to Filipino clergy.

During those bad times, an exemplary and saintly priest came to the succor of the abandoned flock in Manaoag, he was Fr. Mariano Pacis. He built a small convent and a bible chaper where the scattered flock could gather to fulfill their religious obligations and to pray for better times. It was probably because of this that Manaoag was saved from holocaust of the insurrection.

The war ended with the Treaty of Paris. The Spanish priests were again permitted to return to their former post. But with all the raging agitation for the Filipination of Parishers, the Spanish Dominicans refused to return to Pangasinan. However, the Bishop of Nueva Segovia, initiated there return at least to their first establishment in Pangasinan. Finally they accede to the pleas of high ecclesiastical authority, but instead of Binalatongan (now San Carlos City ) they chose the Sanctuary of Manaoag which was donated to the province of the Holy Rosary with inalienable rights.


The Dominican Provincial sent there priest to Manaoag, namely; Fr. Cipriano Pampliegs, Mariano Revilla and Jose Bartolo. They were delighted to find Fr. Pacis in his small convent. Since they could not as yet stay in the old convent because it was occupied by the members of the American Armed Forces, the four priests stayed together in Fr. Pacis’ convent-hut.

January 16, 1902

After the Americans moved out, the priests were not able to settle in their own house.

Times were bleak and uncertain for the priest. The hangover of anti-Spanish feelings was still around. But for them, a mission has to be done, in particular to care for the Sanctuary of Our Lady. So as soon as they had settled down they set out to roof the unfinished church. But at the outset, they left the wings of the transepts untouched because of financial difficulties. The covering of the whole church was finally finished in 1906, although much remained to be down in the interior.

Improvement of the interior of the church continued. Every day after mass, sharp at atto hirpings of chisels and hammer filled the interior of the church as workmen etched on the intricate design of the main altar, the niche and the throne of the Blessed Virgin. In 1909 when the church was again fit to be the home of the Heavenly Mother, its image in Dagupan was brought home and enthroned in her own shrine.



All major works on the church were completed between the years 1911 and 1920 except the belfry and the wings of the transports. The restoration of the Blessed Virgin to her original home in the Sanctuary Church however brought in more devotees and pilgrims. In gratitude for favors received they poured in their hard-earned centavos and niches. In this manner, funds were raised to purchase a nickel-plated carriage plated on which her image during processions. This also enables the Dominican Father to finish the work on the colossal dome in 1913. It was in this manner that devotees of May, the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary who themselves built the present church. As it stands today, it measures 89 meters long and 13.5 meters wide. The transept measures 53.50 meters long and 15.10 meters wide. The dome is 35 meters high. The belfry is 40 meters high.


The Sanctuary Church of Manaoag was awarded the Merit of Recognition by the Philippines Historical Research and Makers Committee through its Chairman Walter Robb and Fr. Miguel Selga, S.J. the historical marker was affixed to the church’s wall near the main door in March that year. The marker reads:

“Administration since 1605 by the Dominicans, the first church of wood lasted a century. The second one which was of stone was built through the generosity of Gaspar and Agatha, and inaugurated in 1720. In 1733 it was donated to the Dominican Corporation, but was destroyed by the earthquake of 1892. The Provincial church, built of wood, was burned during the insurrection of 1898. The reconstruction of the present church began in 1991 with the return of the Dominicans."

April 21, 1926

The image of the Nuestra Señora de Manaoag, famous throughout Pangasinan, was preserved in Dagupan during the revolution, and then taken back to the Sanctuary by the people of Manaoag where it was solemnly crowned in the presence of thousands of faithful, by Mons, Guillermo Piani, Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines.

April 14, 1937

The plaque was solemnly unveiled by the member of the committees of the Historical Commission with the customary church pageantry. The main speech was delivered by the Bishop of Pangasinan, Msgr. Cesar Guerrero and the response was given by Fr. Basilio Martin, O.P. curator of the Santuary. That day also coincided with the traditional fiesta of Our Lady hence a huge crowd witnessed the occasion.


The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of the country during the WW II did not spare the Sanctuary church from ravages of war. During the initial stages the priests themselves went in hiding and so, for the time, the church was closed. When fighting stopped and an uncertain place returned, the church was once more. However, due to the difficulty of travel and restriction imposed on the movement of the people by the occupation forces, pilgrimages stopped. The priests came out from hiding and performed services for the few dared attend services.

It was during the liberation period that the church suffered slight damages. Gen. Mc Arthur’s forces landed in nearby San Fabian and from there, they conducted an intense bombing and bombardment of big buildings in the surrounding towns which were suspected housing enemy troops. Eyewitnesses recall how one plane dropped four bombs intended for the church. One cell through the church’s roof but did not explode. In that trial, a religious brother was killed. He was rushing to the church to secure the Image of the Virgin when the bombs fell and exploded.


The end of the war ushered peace and prosperity. The church was repaired and scars of war were patched up. The pilgrims returned in even greater numbers, presumably to see their Blessed Mother again, and to offer prayers of the thanksgiving for having been spared. For those who suffered misfortunes, they came to seek consolation from the “CALLING VIRGIN. ”

Immediately after the liberation, a school was opened beside the church to cater to the youth who have been shut off from school during the war. In no time, the school population exerted pressure on the convent. They crowded the corridors and halls. It soon became apparent that a new residence for the priest was needed.


Work started on the convent and the belfry. In 2 years both structures were finished and in 1954, the Marian Year, they were inaugurated.


Since then, many more changes and improvements have been introduced in line with the principles and concepts laid down by Vatican II. During the period of experimentation on Liturgical Renewal, an elevated wooden platform was built over the people. The Blessed Sacrament was placed on a ledge built into the left forward column of the dome.

May 1973

The church again suffered minor misfortune. Times were hard and there was great demand for antiques. These motivated the person or persons who might have robbed the Blessed Lady of her Golden Crown and her pendant cross. The crown which has never been recovered was ages-old and the pendant cross used to be pectoral cross of the bishop-saint of Vietnam and the blessed Geronimo Hermosilla. The crown has since been replaced through generous donation of the faithful.


Today, the sanctuary-Church is under the administration and care of Filipino Dominicans. It was turned over to Rev. Fr. Crispin Marqueses, O.P. as the first prior. He, however, did not stay long in his post due to illness. A year after he was replaced by Rev. Reynaldo Adalid, O.P.

Since the assumption to the office, Fr. Adalid has introduced many improvements with an eye for aesthetic beauty. He replaced the rotten wooden platform of the Sanctuary with an octagonal granolithic marble dais. Decorative electric chandeliers were hung above the presbytery. He also installed and excellent sound system to suit the church’s acoustics. This enhances better communications with the faithful on the word of God during the mass.

Other important additions are the Yamaha organ, a bamboo symphony and a home for the boys who serve as choir of the church. The old pipe organ also been repaired. As of this date, the rotting ceiling above the altar has been replaced and painted.

The interior, the façade and the belfry have been given a new coat of paint. A civic action team of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is doing the face-lifting, courtesy of General Jose Racundo, in close coordination with Gen. Abraham Mangonon, General Abaya and Major Iglesias. Materials are purchased from cash donations of devotees and patrons of the Manaoag Virgin and her Shrine.


"Son, I want a church built here in my honor. My children shall receive many favors in this place."


Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag
Manaoag, Pangasinan, Philippines
Contact No. (075) 529-0132;
Fax (075) 529-0508
Contact No. (075) 529-0249

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