Location: Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
History of the Congregation (excerpts from Congregation for Women in Spanish Philippines)
This is a Spanish Monastery which is recorded to be the first founded monastery for women in Asia wayback 1621 by a 66-year old Mother Jeronima and seven other volunteers coming from Spain thru the command of the Franciscan provincial congregation from Sevilla, Spain. They left Spain in May 1620 and after a year and three months of voyage on a galleon ship, these religious pioneers arrived in Manila on August 5, 1621.
A monastery is a structure where the nuns or monks live in total seclusion from the outside word and they live in simplicity. They cannot be seen by the public and it is simply like they are hiding from the rest of the world. That is what we call monastic life. This is a congregation whom Blessed Mother Jeronima was founded in the Philippines. The deprived bachelors who were left by twenty Spanish maidens due to their entry to the congregation two months after its inauguration in the Philippines had motioned for strong resistance and they filed a motion to authorities to stop it but Mother Jeronima has been favored by the King of Spain to continue her work.
The congregation also gained criticism when it did not accept Filipinas applying for admission since they were not admitted being labelled as Indios. By that time, this royal foundation was specifically created for highly religious Spanish women and daughters of the conquistadors who cannot marry properly. It was such a silent prohibition imposed by what they call then a sublime Spanish institution like this congregation. However, when the governing Spaniards sold the Philippine colony to the Americans in 1898, Filipina applicants had been admitted already to the congregation and the first Filipina Poor Clare in the twentieth century was Madre Sor Concordia de San Francisco, OSC (1886-1959). She was born as Concordia Lopez y Gonzalez in San Nicolas, Cebu. Receiving investiture in 1906, she professed simple vows in 1907 and solemn vows in 1910.
My Personal Encounter with the Monastery
Poor Clares monasteries can be found all throughout the Philippines and, in fact, Calbayog City, where I came from, has one. Thus, I am familiar of what monastic life is. The second one which I came across was the Monasterio de Tarlac, a side trip when I had my Mount Bungkol Baka Climb. Relating these experiences, I got interested of visiting Monasterio de Sta. Clara de Manila, considering that it is just accessible within Metro Manila. Thus, I decided to have this visit a reality in the afternoon of July 31, 2016. Being there, sent something different to my senses. I can feel my feet is touching a holy ground and I need to be saintly in my actions while I was there. Taking pictures just became secondary. What I wanted then was a meditative moment.
Well, while approaching the monastery, I got amazed because there were a few vendors which were selling eggs. I did not bother to ask how does each pack costs. What struck my attention is the explanation of the color coding. Let me write it again for you these codes, below:
|Red||Goodluck for travel and work|
|Pink||For lovelife and for family|
|Blue||For studies and for board examination|
|Green||For financial abundance|
|Yellow||For thanksgiving, weather, health, all-occasions & general intentions|
These eggs are offered when you drop your requests or intention. I did not try this thing actually because by that time, I have nothing really in particular to ask God what I wanted. Though, as I have been watching everybody even kids writing their own intentions with pencils provided, I was able to write mine, too. Something specific and of course, something secret to reveal with. I even read the leaflets about Mother Jeronima.
After writing your petitions or intentions, you will fall in line to drop them on a hole along the wall. From the wall I learned some announcements or reminders there as follows:
Blessing Time: 7:00 A.M. to 12:00 Noon and 2:00 to 3:30 P.M.
Mass Schedule: Monday to Saturday - 6:00 A.M. and Sunday - 6:30 A.M. and 5:30 P.M.
Sisters' Prayer Time: 11:00 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. and.thus, all requests and offerings are requested just to left with the receptionist
Announcement: That all petitions are dropped in the petition box together with donation, if there is any.
After dropping all petitions and donations, believers can go the other end of the hall to offer some prayers with Saint Clare. In this same hall, there is a full-size picture of Mother Jeromina.
Of course, in a Catholic tradition, the lighting of candles if petitions have been asked always follow. Thus, there is a specific place where candles are lighted. These small red candles are already available.
Having had much time since I was waiting for the 5:30 P.M. Mass, I roamed around to observe the believer around. And I went back near the gate to get a vantage point of the wishing fountain. In here, coins are being thrown to it. I can see that before they throw the coins, they utter something. Maybe, they are silently uttering their petitions.
Visitors bringing with them their vehicles need not to worry because there is enough space for parking space and you will be assisted by the guard to put things in proper order.
The best thing I did in the monastery was when I waited for the Sunday mass at 5:30 P.M. when I arrived there at 3:20 P.M. It was such a solemn mass. The choir was just so heavenly. The readings were read by solemn readers. This is an experience which really wanted to do it again. To attend mass in the monastery.
HOW TO GO THERE
Going to the monastery is so convenient when someone commutes as there is an LRT2 with station in Katipunan. Coming from Recto Avenue where the LRT2 station is the starting point and followed by the station of: Legarda, Pureza, V Mapa, J. Ruiz, Gilmore, Betty Go, Cubao, Anonas and finally to the Katipunan Station for P25 only.