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Patapos 1

By: Amy A. Arguelles

Alay sa Mahal na Birhen Procession has always been an annual religious event for the people at Rizal Medical Center. This year was quite different though as it was no less than our Hospital Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Edgar M. Dolina, who chaired the 2017 Alay sa Mahal na Birhen Committee with the Finance Division as well as the Hospital Operations and Patients Support Division (HOPSD) spearheading as Hermanos and Hermanas for the month-long activities. During the first organizational meeting of the committee, the budget and the date for the Patapos –Alay sa Mahal na Birhen were discussed. The committee concurred that the procession was to transpire on the 26th of May 2017. It was also agreed that a total of twenty-four (24) Queens were to grace this year’s big event.  Eight (8) Queens to be selected from the Medical Division, seven (7) Queens coming from the Nursing Division and the last nine (9) Queens in the order of procession to be chosen from the Finance Division and HOPSD. Huh, 24 Queens! That’s a lot of Queens for a procession! As HR Head, I knew in my heart that in my turf, the HRD, I had a handful of beautiful millennials, albeit shy, whom I could have easily included in the list of nine (9) Queens; however, I opted to involve only one of them.

 Reyna Elena

Then, it was that time to pick the name for the Reyna Elena, the last one in the order of procession, the Queen of all Queens. Oh my! The Committee members who were present in the meeting mentioned my name. Suddenly, I felt like all the blood had rushed to my face making it quite red to show my favorite color. I argued though, “I am too old for that. Since the time I assumed this position as head of HRD in May 2014, I have been turning down the offer.”  Fr. Dolina brushed my argument aside and explained that a Reyna Elena should be a mother… and recited what seemed to me at the time a sermon that I could no longer recall because I was so jittery about that Reyna Elena thing!  My “No” was eventually out-voted by the committee members present in that meeting.   Like any other event, the planning for this year’s procession was met with challenges.  One example of these challenges was when we were only informed that our budget was slashed after a series of meetings for planning the event had already taken place. Another challenge was when the date of the procession switched over a couple of times. Initially, it was planned for the 26th of May as mentioned earlier but It was then rescheduled on the 30th of May due to schedule conflicts.  The procession was finally set to happen on the 31st of May due to the wisdom of Fr Dolina who declared that the procession should be held on the last day of May. It actually made sense because the Patapos – Alay sa Mahal na Birhen was the culmination of the month-long activities of religious devotion to Mama Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It was not after all a mere fashion show as emphasized by Fr Dolina.

I had intended to file a Special Privilege Leave on the 31st of May 2017 but things did not turn out as I had previously planned. I had to honor my commitment to report for work and attend to a special event at RMC in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has always been my succor throughout my adult life. I have always believed in her powerful intercession in my life. Oh, just an interesting bit of trivia, my two daughters have Maria as their first names. On the day of the procession, I had no issues whatsoever as everything went smoothly starting with the rosary recitation at 2:00 pm at the RMC chapel which was participated by a group of highly enthusiastic RMC Queens.  These handful of Queens, while at the chapel, were all in full bloom just like flowers in their beautiful gowns. As I looked at them, I was suddenly transported back in time to a point not long ago when they were being interviewed  by the RMC-Personnel Selection Board. I just smiled because they had morphed into beautiful ladies before my very eyes in their stately attires. Queenly, indeed.  The Holy Mass was then celebrated at 2:30 pm and it was during Fr Dolina’s homily that I had learned of his intention to use this year’s religious devotion to Mama Mary as a petition to prevent the scary “Big One” from coming to our beloved Philippines. At 3:30 pm, the procession commenced and throughout the parade, I felt appreciated as I took note of the approving looks of the people who saw me as RMC’s Reyna Elena for the year 2017.  The procession was finally brought to an end at around 4:30 pm with a flower offering to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was tiring to parade in gown as I was not getting any younger, I guess; however, it was all worth it. It was worth foregoing my Special Privilege Leave on the 31st of May 2017 to celebrate my 14th Wedding Anniversary because Fr Dolina was able to bless and pray for me and my husband, including our two daughters, who were at the procession taking turns to shield me from the heat of the sun.