The sculptor, Jose “Jojo” Barcena, Jr, poses with Sitti Maryam: Our Lady of Compassion at Roxas Avenue. Taken last 27 June 2017, after the sculpture’s blessing. Photo by Aivy Rose Villarba.

By Aivy Rose N. Villarba

The new sculpture in Roxas Avenue, Davao City, named the Sitti Maryam: Our Lady of Compassion, has become a head turner since it was unveiled.

The 12-feet sculpture made of metal and cement was created by Jose “Jojo” Barcena, Jr, artist born and raised in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Barcena said he created the sculpture in memory of the victims of the Roxas Night Market blast last 2 September 2016 which claimed 15 lives and left 67 injured.

“This is to give hope to the people in a form of sculpture,” he said.

Barcena explained Mary is looking at the bomb site, her left hand pierces through her chest. This is a reminder of the scars of the incident. The right hand of Mary venerates the victims of the blast.

“Kung nawalan tayo ng anak at ng mahal sa buhay, this can be very painful for a mother (It is very painful especially for a mother to lose a child and a loved one),” he said.

However, he also reminded that death is part of life. “Let us accept the pain, move on and work again, may pag-asa pa (there is hope),” he said.

The sculptor added that the whole composition is similar to a piece of cloth like the one surrounding the Our Lady of Compassion.

“Naniniwala ako na tayong mga Pilipino ay parang hibla ng tela na kailangan buuin. Kung mapunit man, let us try to weave again (I believe that we Filipinos are like the thread in the cloth that needs to be united. Even if it is torn, let us try to weave again),” he said.

Barcena said even if they are not believers, the people may see the sculpture as a symbol of our Inang Bayan (Motherland).

“We are capable of doing good things. Let us be catalysts for change for our country. Let us be united again. Let us turn our scars into stars,” he said.

The sculptor invites the people to visit the memorial in Roxas Avenue.

“I invite them na pumunta sila dito [Roxas Avenue] at pakiramdaman ang aking gawa at ‘yun ang magdidikta kung ano talaga ang laman ng puso nila (I invite them to go to Roxas Avenue. Look at the sculpture, feel it and it will reveal what is truly in their hearts),” Barcena ended.

BLESSING. Fr. Ulysses Cabayao, SJ  blesses the Sitti Maryam: Our Lady of Compassion statue. Photo by Aivy Rose Villarba.

Our Lady of Compassion statue, which took 5-days to finish by the sculptor, was blessed and unveiled to the public last 27 June 2017.

Members of the Roxas Market Vendors Association, Task Force Davao, and the Ateneo community gathered and dined at the Rodriguez Hall, Community Center of the First Companions, Ateneo de Davao University after the blessing.