Studio tours head fulfills dream of becoming a 'camarero'

By Rae Ducut, ABS-CBN Corporate Communications

Posted at Apr 18 2014 01:47 PM | Updated as of Apr 19 2014 01:43 AM

When he was a kid, ABS-CBN Studio Tours head Onel Velarde would go around their barangay and neighboring barangays during Holy Week, in the heat of the afternoon, to see how the statues of saints and carrozas were being prepared for the procession.

Now an adult, Onel doesn’t do that anymore, and he has no reason to. Last year, Onel had his own statue of Sta. Juana de Cuza built and became a camarero (steward of a religious image) in his hometown, Polangui, Albay. He even designed Sta. Juana’s dresses.

“I’ve always been fascinated by religious images. My grandmother influenced me. She was a devout Catholic and she would take me with her to Church activities,” Onel said.

When the parish priest in Polangui encouraged families to contribute to the Holy Week procession by having their own santos made, Onel, a devout Catholic himself, saw it as an opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream.

After consulting his priest friends and considering recommendations from online forums, Onel ultimately selected Sta. Juana de Cuza because of her inspiring life story.

Sta. Juana was the wife of Cuza, the head steward of King Herod Antipas. Sta. Juana showed unrelenting faith in Jesus and provided funds and supplies in support of His ministry.

“She was only mentioned once in the Bible, but I chose her because despite her husband’s position in society, even when she was wealthy and was a member of the nobility at that time, she still chose to follow Jesus. She supported Jesus’ ministry and donated money out of her own pocket,” Onel said.

Onel had the statue made in Paete, Laguna, and was very hands-on during its creation process, from deciding on how Sta. Juana should look like, to getting the material for her hair, and buying the fabrics for her clothing.

In February 2013, Sta. Juana was blessed at the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church in Polangui.

“If you think about it, I would have made a significant contribution if I just donated the money to the Church, but it helped draw people to the procession and the Church. Filipinos are very visual. Kailangan may pang-enganyo. And I’m glad that my family is part of that,” Onel said.

Onel even created a Facebook page for Sta. Juana and had a prayer book made for her. At the moment, the novena is already being translated to Bicolano by a friend.

Since he became a camarero, Onel’s family has somehow become more united, as relatives volunteered and became more involved in the preparation of Sta. Juana’s carroza for the Holy Week procession.

Onel said, “It encourages me to be humble and be more sensitive to people. I shouldn’t just be good at taking care of the santo or designing her clothes, but also at setting an example as a good Christian.”

(This article was published on e-Frequency last April 11, 2014)