By Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM

[Oil in Canvas: Blanco Family Mural at St Vincent SchoolofTheology]

The marker was read by Fr. Roland Tuazon, the Dean of SVST: "Since the Spanish missionaries arrived in 1862, the Vincentians (Padres Paules) have been engaged in training the clergy and leaders of the Philippines. Their dedication to this mission helped establish the local Church. Continuing this legacy of providing integral formation for lay and religious leaders to become evangelizers of the poor, St. Vincent School of Theology was founded in 1985, just before the country’s experience of the EDSA People Power Revolt. SVST journeys in synodality with the People of God, prophetically witnessing to God’s presence, compassion and love in society by doing Christian Theology and Praxis from and to the Margins."

The Blanco family of Angono has been good friends of the CMs from the Vincentian Hills Seminary in Angono, Rizal. We have been always welcome to their home with the kindest hospitality by their late father, the great painter, Jose "Pitok" Blanco, and their late mother, Nanay Loring Blanco — when most of the siblings were still young. Peter Paul, the youngest, was still a young boy then, serving as sacristan when I was assigned in Angono. He is now a professor of philosophy at SVST. It is our great honor to have this family of great painters immortalize this relationship with the Vincentian charism in the mural entitled "Prusisyon ng Samabayanan" as the CMs celebrate the 150th Anniversary as a Province in the Philippines (1872 - 2022).

At its unveiling, Peter Paul explained the painting. There are three parts of the mural and in each part is "the face of Jesus".

1. From the leftmost part, during the blessing of SVST by Cardinal Sin, in 1986, we see the face of Jesus in their midst - reminiscent of a famous Vincentian painting by Kurt Welther, "St. Vincent at the Table of the Poor" (cf.

2. In the middle of the mural is the Eucharistic table where Jesus finds himself among the kariton children. This scene immortalizes what actually happened during one SVST "Christmas at the Margins" (2015) together with kariton families in the Quezon City area. To experience the life of a kariton family, students and faculty were divided into different groups and we had to accompany each family in their daily work of collecting garbage in different places. At the end of the day, we gathered them at SVST and celebrated the Mass and had a little party with them. I asked the children during the homily "Where was Jesus born?" They all spontaneously answered in chorus: "sa kariton po!" The kariton that housed the statues of Mary, Jesus and Joseph was there between them and the Eucharistic table.

3. In the rightmost part of the mural, Peter Paul continues, are people from all walks of life — religious, lay, clergy — all members of the people of God — in solidarity with the poor and in procession to the Kingdom of God. The logs and drift wood on the upper part of the mural were those which met our eyes in Batangan, General Nakar, Quezon when we went there after the flash flood in 2004. This event actually formed part of the re-founding story and communal memory of SVST.

In November of 2004, Infanta, General Nakar and Real, Quezon were flooded and submerged in water, some under the rubbles of landslides. We were supposed to have our traditional Christmas party like we all used to do, kris-kringle, "manito-manita" and all. But the student body and the whole community decided to cancel it. We gathered all resources that we can muster, and the whole SVST community went overnight to Batangan, General Nakar and Real, Quezon to be with the victims of the calamity. We had to carry the goods on foot crossing mountains and rivers because the roads were not passable by transportation. I can still remember that we celebrated their first Mass after the flood on top of people's graves together with the surviving families. Below us were the bodies of their loved ones buried under the landslides. After the Mass, we blessed the makeshift graves by the shorelines. This was a start of SVST's summer mission program and the rehabilitation project in Batangan.

From then on, SVST never celebrated Christmas just among ourselves. It would always be Christmas at the margins.

Then Peter Paul Perez Blanco reflected: "In the third part, Jesus is among the people themselves" as they move in procession in solidarity with the poor towards God's kingdom.

4. Characteristic of some Blanco paintings, many of the faces in the painting are familiar faces; they have been part of the story of the SVST community. Of course, not all faces can be accommodated. But the ones here represent all those who passed through St. Vincent School of Theology.

A little footnote to the mural: somewhere in the lower left of the painting, a poor old man whom the family knows carries the statue of San Clemente, the patron saint of Angono. This is the Blanco family input: in their consciousness, the Vincentians as they have known them, have their roots in their local Angono by the hill.

Our thanks to our friends — the members of the Blanco family (Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, Jan, Gay and Paul) — who worked hard and contributed all their creativity to finish this mural, and to all our donors, alumni and friends of SVST! Salamat at mabuhay po kayo!

You can visit the mural at the SVST lobby.

Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM
Adamson University