Where there is Christ, there is a promise of eternity
Guided by its vision to be one of the primary movers in providing a dignified and decent final resting place for Filipinos, Eternal Gardens has been distinct among its counterparts not only because of the quality of memorial services they offer, but also, and more importantly, because of the sanctity and “divinity” it exudes to its stakeholders. The reason for this is none other than the statue that towers over each of its memorial parks—the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
The Story of Christ’s Transfiguration
The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ appears to be one of the most prominent events during the Messiah’s earthly stint, as written in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36. It occurred when Jesus and three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, climbed up the mountain to pray. They initially thought that Jesus, as the “Messiah,” came to the world to overrule non-believers and conquer all kingdoms, establishing His own. Jesus, through His immaculate way, showed how He is the Answer to God’s promise.
His disciples were fascinated with how Jesus transformed—His face shone like the brightest sun, and His clothes glistened. During His transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared beside Jesus as representations of the Law and the Prophets, respectively, professing Jesus as the living “Torah”, the complete Word of God. At that moment, the disciples witnessed the promised Kingdom of the Lord embodied in flesh exuded by Christ. Jesus transfigured was foretelling of what was about to happen in His impending demise—a symbol of salvation, forgiveness, and His resurrection that rules over any earthly vision of kingdom conquered or possible bloodshed among nations.
Jesus’ Transfiguration, Eternalized
Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua thought of immortalizing the miraculous scene in his memorial parks, picking the right person for the job: National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon V. Abueva. Also known as the Father of Modern Filipino Sculpture, and the youngest recipient of the National Artist Award in age 46, Abueva was tapped by the Founder because of his deep religious faith that aligned with the company’s.
Aside from designing it, Abueva also crafted the first statue of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ found in the maiden branch of Eternal Gardens in Baesa. The statue itself measures 33 feet in height, symbolizing Jesus’ 33 years of ministry on earth. It rests atop a 12-foot pedestal, which stands for the 12 apostles that Jesus had.
Later on, Abueva also made the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ statues for the Eternal Gardens branches in Cabanatuan City and Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Aside from Dean Abueva, other notable Filipino sculptors were privileged to shape the image of Christ transfigured after Abueva’s original design: Amado Castrillo for Dagupan branch in 1983, Biñan in 1984, Balagtas, Batangas City in 1986, Lipa City in 1992, Naga City in 2000; and Conrado F. Balubayan for Cagayan de Oro (the first park in Mindanao) and Cabuyao City, Laguna in 2018.
Today, the 11 parks of Eternal Gardens across the country feature the statue of Jesus’ Transfiguration as one of the remarkable landmarks that remind the faithful of the Lord’s promise of salvation and resurrection; that after a life of passion is a life of eternal destination in His paradise.
Tradition and Devotion
The annual observance of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on August 6 was introduced into the Roman calendar by Pope Calixtus III in 1457 to commemorate the victory over the Turks in Belgrade. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Five Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, and one of which is the Transfiguration.
The devotion of Eternal Gardens to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ does not end with the building of statues in its branches. The company has also made it its lifelong advocacy to propagate the devotion of Filipinos to the miraculous event in the life of Jesus by celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration every 6th of August. On this special day each year, Holy Masses are celebrated at the parks, or sponsored by the branch in their respective parishes. The mass celebrations also serve as thanksgiving for the anniversary of the company, which is on August 11.
This annual tradition of Eternal Gardens subscribes to the mission of the Founder and his company to be an instrument of promoting the message of salvation and God’s promise of an eternal life that awaits us as we live faithfully within His mighty presence and guidance. It stands as a reminder that a land that resides within God’s grace is a blessed soil of transfiguration and eternal salvation.