Written by Joshua Montefrio, B.S. in Biology IV.
What if there is a rosary more than what a rosary should be?
Traditionally, what we usually know about rosary is that it is a symbol or a figure of devotion and faith that is well represented in the Roman Catholic. It is used for praying and meditation but it can also be used for aesthetic design such as in small altars.
The rosary that we know takes that traditional form, however there exist rosaries that possess a property or more like of an ability that is more than the ordinary. Those rosaries go beyond the spiritual aspect and enter the more supernatural universe. They are believed to have the power or blessing from God and also they are known to be imbued with a charm like qualities or what is locally known as ‘anting-anting’. The form of those rosaries are different having materials that are unorthodox and with specific unconventional qualities.
Christian beliefs of the supernatural world and the spiritual word is integrated into that kind of rosary. It is believed that rosaries as such function as a protection from the evils and evil workings in the world. Devotees would think that those maleficence are workings to inflict spiritual pain and confusion, the rosary would then serve as a weapon to shield and to repel those evils.
Nowadays, modern times mold people to be indifferent and skeptical about the spiritual and supernatural beliefs of the Roman Catholic. They are now masked and hidden away, unappreciated, mocked and laughed at by the society. That’s why to discover and understand the art of such rosaries and the mysteries shrouding it is the center topic of this research.
Buga, Leon, Iloilo is a barangay where most people are Roman Catholics and they are mostly tightly tied with their beliefs. One resident of this town, Randolph T. Baquiano (61 years old), is a maker and a craftsman of the special kind of rosaries. He himself is a devout Catholic and a true believer of their beliefs.
Mr. Baquiano is a member of the Knights of the Holy Cross of Jesus, a group dedicated in protecting people against evil such as demons and witchcrafts. The group also practices spiritual healing which may include that of affliction of evil witchery and a sort of exorcism of the spiritually disturbed (a lighter term used by them, that means possession, to ease worries of the family members of the victim). They are the group that deals mostly of the things that doctors and even priests couldn’t understand. Making of the rosary and other related crafts are part of their work to help people in need to have protection from the evil workings.
The history of the group and the rosary making, as told by Mr. Baquiano, originated way back in the 60’s during the “Christian-Muslim War” in Mindanao. The founder is said to be visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary and was told to build an organization which we now know of as the Knights of the Holy Cross of Jesus. In one of their early days, they started making pendants which are sort of anting-anting and it enable them to survive and ensure that they won’t get caught up in the middle of the war. It gave them a sort of stealth and invincibility. Back then the use of the pendant was of physical means. However today, the organization are now “Christ-centered” and so they are more concerned in spiritual means such as healing and protecting, that’s why the once then pendant now have an attached cross with holy beads inserted inside the string and this becomes now the rosary that they are making today.
The special rosary is composed of 3 significant parts, the loop of beads, the pendant, and the corpus. The loop of beads is composed of five sets of ten beads (called a decade) with one different bead at each interval except between the first and fifth decades, spacer beads are also placed between each decade and that single different bead. The pendant on the other hand is placed between the first and fifth decade with spacers too. The corpus or the figure of Jesus on the cross is accompanied by three beads with a one single different bead spaced by spacers, the corpus and its companion pieces are attached while hanging to the pendant.
The materials used in the rosary, as interviewed from Mr. Baquiano, are different from that of the traditional. While the traditional usually use plastic or metal, even sometimes wood, this particular rosary uses only organic materials with specific qualities, because these qualities are the ones that enable the holy power of the rosary. The material has to be organic as this represents life.
For the beads and spacers, what they use are usually in the family of grasses, being the species of bamboo as the most common material used such as the “bagakay”. However, common as it is, the bamboo that they should use must not have any holes. A bamboo tree usually have a hallow hole inside it, but for the rosary the bamboo should be solid in fill. The reason for this is that, it must be solid so that any evil doings, demons and witchcrafts won’t be able to penetrate you, this represent as one of the properties of the rosary. Not only bamboo, but also all other materials that will be discussed here. The inside shell of the coconut fruit can also be used, as long as it does not have any eyes or holes (“libol”- coconut with no holes), which are present in the common ones. The reason for this is the same for the bamboo.
To make cylindrical beads, the bamboo or the coconut fruit shell is cut into cube pieces of the desired size and then each one is drilled into the center of its base and a fishing line string is passed through the drilled hole. Once every piece is inserted by the string, the pieces are then smoothen by sand paper by running it over the pieces. For spherical beads, two cut cube pieces of desired size are glued together, then they are put inside a beader machine to make them spherical, once done, the center of sphere is drilled and the previous process is repeated.
Before closing the beaded loop, the pendant is made sure to be inserted too in the loop. There are different types of pendant, there is this what they call as loaded pendant and the normal pendant. For the normal pendant the wood of a tree is used. “Lignom Tree” is the most popular to use as this tree is believed to be the tree used to create the cross where Jesus was crucified, this add to the properties of the rosary. Another normal pendant is what they call as the “Koronahan”, it is the node of a bamboo tree which has thorns around it. It is called “Koronahan” as it resembles the thorny crown worn to Jesus, this symbolizes the passion of Christ. The loaded pendant on the other hand, as hinted by the word ‘loaded’ means that, the pendant is a sort of an enclosed space, from two concave pieces glued together, with different materials loaded into it. There are three most common materials loaded inside the pendant. The first one is the“bangkil” or the canine tooth, or the “dila” or the tongue of the lightning, named as they are based on their shapes. Next is the crystal which is a meteorite believed to have come from the moon, they believe that a meteorite is not a rock but a crystal. Lastly, the powder or “pulbura” used for the mortar cannon. The powder is believed to release spiritual heat which represents the holy fire of God. These loaded materials add to the property of the rosary.
The design of the pendants emulate that of the symbol from the Holy Name of Jesus Christ Save Us.
The pendants are drilled on each side so the string can pass through, and drilled one on the underside for the attachment of the corpus and its companion pieces.
There are different kinds of woods that they can also use to make the beads, the pendant and the corpus. Wood from tree such as the “Paway Tree” which could only be used if it is found near a falls in a rocky mountain, the other one is the “Sinukuan Tree”, any tree that is thriving in solitary in a place that no other plants could grow near its vicinity. Another kind of tree is what they call as the “Lusot”, this tree results when a part of a certain tree goes through the body of another tree, the part of the tree that has gone through is the “Lusot” and that’s the material used to make part of the rosary. There are also different types of “Lusot” there is the “lusot sa sanga” or through the branches, “lusot sa lawas” through the body, “lusot sa gamut” or through the roots, and “sad-sad na lusot” or through the whole tree from its base to the top.
The aesthetic design for this kind of rosary is just as it is, there is no other embellishment done, it is all natural with the exception of course of the fishing line string. Different combinations of wood and other materials can be made and the process of combination is not really based on what material is necessary to make it look good but instead what material is necessary to make it effective. The materials chosen for a rosary is based on the use of those materials for the total property of the rosary.
The materials used are already weird as it is, but that’s not all the requirement the materials must have for it to be used to make an effective rosary that possesses power. In one story of Mr. Baquiano, he said that, the members of the organization have this special kind of ability wherein that they can see and sense things normal people would not be able to see and sense. He explained that every thing and being in the world emits weak vibration. Strong vibrations are emitted only by the evil doers (negative vibration,) and by people like them (positive vibration). People like Mr. Baquiano are able to see and harness that vibrations and use it to repel evil doers as vibrations coming from them are heat that comes from God. Evil doers are able to see and harness that vibrations too and they use it to cause suffering and pain to the other people, but when they sense the positive vibrations they would turn away as they would feel the heat coming from it. Not only they, have the vibrations, certain objects too emit vibrations, and those objects that under God’s blessing emits the strongest vibrations. The materials used for the rosary should not only have met the qualities it needs, it should also have the strong vibrations. The knights are able to detect the vibration of the materials and only materials that have strong vibrations are the ones they use to make the rosary, and that is basically the power of rosary, its vibrations protect you. The “Lusot” wood for instance, they do not choose any “Lusot” wood they see, they would only choose those that have the strong vibrations. The 3 loaded materials in the pendant are used because they are like catalyst in intensifying more of the vibrations of the rosary.
Mr. Baquiano had a hard time explaining as the stories may sound ludicrous but one thing he made clear is that things such as “aswang”, “mang-iiwit”, “mangbabarang” and “babaylan” are real and they exist for one thing only, to cause physical and most especially spiritual pain. They attack the spiritual aspect of the people and make them suffer. He said that while people are active in churches, active in strengthening their faith, those evil doers are also active in doing their thing to afflict. That is why the Knights are there to be the soldiers of God fighting this kind of war and protecting the people from the evil workings. The rosary the make is just like a shield that protects the people that is why they keep on making these and they won’t stop until evil is wiped from the Earth. It is a good thing that in this side of battle we don’t even see, there are these guardians that are willing to help.
The rosaries made by Mr. Baquiano are all for free, because their group believes that blessings and protection from God is not for sale, they are for free and all people have the right to receive them.
In our society today acceptance of this kind of story needs to have proof and the eyes that witness, otherwise it will just be beliefs and a laughing stock by the crowd. But those who truly believe, this is a boost in faith, people may become more dedicated in their religion, in believing, people may be drawn more towards God, and what breeds faith in God? – Charity, love, goodwill, good people, and that’s what the world needs now, good people.
This art should at least be recognized in this society, this is not just a hocus pocus craft but it is a symbol of faith. The making of rosary is masked now by modernism, this art should be preserved as this is part of the many unique aspects of the Roman Catholic, and this is part of their belief and religion. The mysteries shrouding the rosary help us become aware of the supernatural aspect in the society, this will help us be more conscious in our environment and with whom we are having in conversation. We must welcome this beliefs as these are also part of the rich culture of the country.