Legend of Virgen delos Desamparados

This is a story of how the Nuestra Senora Virgen Delos Desamparados became the sacred saint of Malapascua.

Nuestra Senora Virgen Delos Desamparados of Peregina
Nuestra Senora Virgen Delos Desamparados of Peregina by Vegabajadigital


A long time ago, during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, the Malapascua people were baptized Catholic. And as time passed by, it became a habit for the people to utter prayers to God every dawn and late afternoon. They have no saint to praise during the worship, what they have is only the creed of the rosary.

In the year 1881, in Tapahan, a small village of Malapascua lived sisters called Aquirina and Balbina Monteclar. They were the grandchildren of Francisco Bruces, who was the known salt maker on the island. Aquirina and Balbina were tasked by their grandfather to fetch firewood for drying the salt. So early in the morning, they headed to the shore to gather dry, light driftwood. As they came home, Francisco directly put the woods on fire and then went on, making salt. Before the day ends, Francisco always goes to clean the fireplace. To his surprise, he saw one piece of wood that was not turned into ashes. He paid no attention to it and simply threw it away.

The next day, his grandchildren fetch wood again. Francisco also does the same routine as a salt maker. Then later that afternoon, as he cleaned the fireplace, he saw the same wood that was not burned. He thought about his grandchildren, that maybe they were the ones who placed the wood back in the fireplace. He picked it up and threw it away again.

On the third day, the same thing happened so he scolded his grandchildren and instructed them never to take wet wood because it cannot be burned. And he threw the wood again.

On the fourth day, as he was cleaning the fireplace, to his big surprise the wood was still there. He could not think of any other possibility of why it is always coming back. He took the wood and closely examined it. He was shocked because he visualized a face of a woman carved on the wood. And he then decided to keep it.

Because of Francisco’s discovery of the image of the woman’s face carved on the wood, he placed it on the altar every time they do a novena. As that went on, Francisco’s neighbors were puzzled why they always hear a beautiful voice of a woman singing in Francisco’s house when in fact there is no such person in their house who can sing with such a beautiful voice. Francisco told them about the story of the wood. And then, the people asked Francisco if they can make the wood as the village’s sacred image, and he agreed.

The people of Malapascua kept on praying and making novena with the wood on the altar. Then one day, a mysterious old man from Balamban joined their worship and offered a new novena book which is entitled, “The Novena of Nuestra Virgen Delos Desamparados”. Until then, they used the same book for worship.

Virgen Delos Desamparados

The year 1907, a man from Tapilon called Rufo Dubiin requested to bring the sacred wood to Cebu in order for it to be baptized. On their travel, an unexpected storm approached them in the middle of the sea. The strong wind pushed their vessel far from where they should be heading (Daanbantayan). That time they don’t have enough diesel to travel that far so, they utter a prayer and asked help from the sacred image and called it “Virgen de Los Desamparados”. Their prayers were heard and the wind blew in another direction, drifting them back to Daanbantayan.

On May 11, 1907, father Inocentes Maga baptized the wood as a holy image of “Virgen Delos Desamparados”. Then from now on, it became the holy saint of the people of Malapascua Island. Malapascua Island celebrates its annual fiesta every May 11th and 12th as a thanksgiving to the so-called patroness.

The story was told by Aquirina Monteclar Duarte, a local of Malapascua Island.

Lanch Alimaida – Dive Society
Story Writer / Base Leader

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