I first came to Sto. Domingo Church when I was just a child. My parents when they were still together as a couple were very much devoted to Our Lady of Manaoag. I grew up looking at the beautiful face of the Virgin Mary holding Her the Infant Jesus. In a way, it was my parent's devotion that started my love for Our Lady. One day when I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I saw a news paper article saying that the Lady of Manaoag will visit the Shrine in Quezon City. I was thrilled and immediately asked my father if we could drive from our home in Taytay, Rizal and visit Our Lady. My father was equally excited and willingly drove his excited child to Sto. Domingo Church. I remember how excited I was as I walked down the side corridor of the church towards the church's right wing. There I saw Our Lady of Manaoag... I don’t remember what I prayed for, but it was a special moment for me. It was easily the highlight of the year for a child to meet the Queen of Heaven.
Many years after, when I was twenty-five, I was planning to get married but things where not that easy unfortunately. I moved to Caloocan with my boyfriend's family, it was a very hard decision for me to move in with them but I had no choice at that time. I was very happy because I was with the man that I love, but our life seemed hard and complicated. My only strength that time: The Rosary.
There were no nearby churches so we usually don’t go to church at Sundays... One day, I was alone in the house (my then boyfriend doesn't want me to work and preferred that I stay at home,) I was looking at a map of Metro Manila and saw that Sto. Domingo is just a ride away. I was thrilled and felt like crying recalling my first memory of the church. It was perfect timing, I felt vulnerable and weak and strangely in very complicated situation to say the least. I spoke to my then boyfriend and asked if we could go that coming Sunday, he agreed.
Saturday night, I had a weird dream: I saw what looked like a painting of a forest... In the middle, a clearing, like a road of some sort... I could have easily walked through but a muddy and dirty, swamp like thing was on the way.. So obviously I could not pass, although I did not see myself in the dream... I was then surprised to see flowers growing in that muddy-swamp-like thing blocking my way... I can still remember those flowers and what it looked like. Like it was last night's dream! Pardon me, but what it looked like shall remain a secret because it might lose its sweetness again.
I woke up and told my then boyfriend... I did not know what it meant, but I honestly thought it was something positive. Like a sign of hope... It was in my mind the whole day. Then it was time to go to church... I remember that scene when I was a child, and I honestly felt that same excitement just thinking I will be meeting Our Lady of La Naval. I remember watching Her Coronation on television. I stepped inside that same side altar, but there I saw not Our Lady of Manaoag but La Naval. My heart was beating so fast, like I was approaching Elizabeth Windsor's throne.
We sat on the front pews so we could look at Our Lady up close. Then it happened: Like a lightning, it came suddenly, I saw the flowers in my dream again, only this time it was in Our Lady's foot. I was shocked and could not concentrate the whole time. I immediately told my boyfriend and he of course believed me. I was in total amazement! I looked at Our Lady and thanked Her for that dream, for that sign. Perhaps a sign or a personal message telling me that She could still remember that excited child who visited Her many years before. A message that probably said that She was expecting my return. A sign that She was aware of my then present condition.
I felt loved. Loved by Our Lady. I knew it, the dream was a sign of hope that no matter what, She will be there for me. The forest clearing was there waiting for me, I just had to hold on to Her and trust Her during the times of trouble and pain. It was a promise from Her.
We visited Her a few more times, then in one significant visit, when the mass was over and after kissing Her mantle, I looked back and bid Her farewell. I studied Her delicate face and the "DREAM" flowers and suddenly felt sad. Like She was telling me that it would be the last time that I would see her for a long time. I knew it in my heart that it will come true. AND IT DID!
A few days later, we moved to Mandaluyong and there She fulfilled Her promise to deliver me from my burden. The muddy swamp was dark and dirty and sad, a reflection of my past situation. But Our Lady chose to show mercy and delivered me through Our Lord's help. I am now in Bacolod, twenty-seven years old and living that "forest clearing" in my dream.
This is a humble story of Our Lady's often sweet messages to Her children. That we are not alone, that we are children of The Queen.
VIVA LA NAVAL!