Meet the holy vestment maker of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for 2021

Jeff Fernando, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2021 12:04 PM

Meet the holy vestment maker of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for 2021 1
Designer Noel Arriola Jr. poses beside the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is wearing his creation

MANILA -- The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated every July 16. For the millions of Catholics in the Philippines, it's the perfect time to offer prayers in churches dedicated to this title of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

One of the more popular ones is the canonically crowned image in San Sebastian Church in Manila. This year, the holy image is wearing a hand-painted, vintage-styled vestment created by local designer Noel Arriola Jr. of Sta Maria, Laguna.

In a virtual interview, Arriola said lyrics from a song offered to Our Lady of Mount Carmel served as his inspiration for the song. The lyrics go: "Flower of Carmel, blossoming vine."

"Makikita niyo po na ang naging dibuho sa damit ng Birhen ay mga gumagapang na halaman na may mga bulaklak na puti na sumisimbulo sa kalinisan ni Maria," he said. 

Meet the holy vestment maker of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for 2021 2
A closer look at Arriola's design

According to Arriola, he volunteered to make a vestment for the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to express gratitude for all the blessings he has received amid the pandemic.

"Kahit ngayong pandemic, di kami pinabayaan ng Panginoon sa pamamagitan ng Birhen," he said.

The designer said putting together the same vestment was also affected by the global health crisis. 
"Seriously, it takes 5 days only to finish the dress po. Pero I have given one and a half months preparation para sa paggawa ng damit. Mental breakdowns and uncertain circumstances due to COVID-19 -- naging positive po ang Papa ko at isang kapatid -- ang nakapagpabagal po sa pagbi-visualize ng damit," he admitted. 

"Estudyante ako at may modules po kami na ginagawa na sumabay pa, kaya natagalan po ako. Sa awa ng Diyos, natapos ko ang damit sa oras," he added.

Coming up with a creation worthy of the Blessed Mother amid the pandemic was a challenge, according to Arriola. But his undying devotion for the Virgin Mary became his source of inspiration.

"My devotion to the Virgen del Carmen traces back when I was a child, my Lola po was the one who introduced me," he said, adding that his devotion continued in school. 

"Ang laging dasal ko po sa Virgen ay maging maayos po ang buhay naming buong pamilya at mga kaibigan ko, maging healthy lang po kami, at matapos na po ang pandemya. At higit sa lahat, patuloy kaming kaawaan ng Panginoon," he added. 

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