Two years ago, the news of the stolen jewelry from the Birhen sa Regla or Nuestra Señora Virgen De Regla church came just months after our last visit. I remember that there were so many jewelry pinned to the image during that time. Those donated jewelry only represent the thousands if not millions of answered prayers credited to the Lady of the Rule. It is nice to note that miracles – big or small – have strengthened the Oponganons veneration to the patroness of Lapu-Lapu (formerly Opon).
When the image of the Nazarene was burned, it turned black – the reason why it is called Black Nazarene today. The story of the Birhen sa Regla’s color is however different. The virgin is black as the devotion to the lady was started by St. Augustine who was the bishop of Hippo in Northern Africa.
You might be asking why Our Lady of the Rule was translated Birhen sa Regla when Regla is translated as menstrual period. It was explained that regla rather refers to rule or order because menstrual period follows a rule of dates.
Like Snr. Sto. Nino, Birhen sa Regla gave hope to the hopeless. A miracle that dates back in the 90s happened to Maria Ramos who suffered terrible seizures caused by cerebral palsy. When she was brought to Birhen sa Regla church, Ramos crawled up and kissed the statue. There and then, she stood up without any help and walked out of the door.
Lapu-Lapu residents also believe that the city’s patron saint spared them from super typhoon Yolanda.
The annual fiesta celebration of Opon in honor of Birhen sa Regla is equally extravagant as Sinulog. Devotees also join in the annual procession where they walk about three kilometers under the sun.
It turns out that even the social media became a way for the devotees of the Birhen sa Regla to give their wishes and send their prayers to the lady. When the Lapu Lapu City Facebook page posted a photo of the image, it immediately became some sort of ‘virtual panagkot site’.