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CULTURAL | The Christmas Gift of the Divine Mercy

The Divine Mercy Logo

DEVOUT Roman Catholics are familiar with the image of Jesus raising his right hand in blessing and pointing his left hand on the Sacred Heart from which flow two rays with symbolic meanings for the blood of Jesus and that which justifies the soul.  The total image is a symbol of charity, forgiveness and love of God referred to as the “Fountain of Mercy.”  This famous original image of Jesus with the message “I Trust in You” was drawn by the Polish artist of the Realism Movement, Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, in 1934 upon the request and direction of St. Maria Faustyna Kowalska (1905-1938), a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic.  She wrote in her diary that Jesus told her, “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.  I also promise victory over enemies already here on earth especially at the hour of death.  I, Myself, will defend it as My own glory.”  Her apparitions of Jesus was the inspiration of the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy. Worshippers of the Divine Mercy commemorate the Hour of Mercy at 3:00 p.m. which, according to St. Faustyna Kowalska’s diary, is the time of the death of Jesus.

Divine Mercy Exec. Comm. with Rev. Fr. Amado Arroyo

     The Divine Mercy Movement in Davao, on the other hand, started in September, 1987, with the vision, passion, patience and love for the devotion of the devoutly religious woman named Maria Celina Javellana-Ilagan.  She was fondly called Tita Inday by people who knew her and loved her.  Tita Inday singlehandedly planted the seeds of devotion to the Divine Mercy all over Mindanao.  The gentle and charming Ilongga provided the blueprint for a Mindanao-wide Divine Mercy organization to institutionalize the movement and ensure the  continuity of the propagation of the devotion not only in Mindanao but also covering the Visayas region as well.

Purita Arsenia “Joji” Ilagan-Bian

     Upon Tita Inday’s passing in 2017, she appointed the respected Ilongga

teacher/businesswoman/alajera, Emilia Sorongon vda. de Sitjar, as her successor.  Under tita Emilia’s able leadership and stewardship, the Divine Mercy devotion grew in all the vicariates and parishes in the Davao and Samal Archdiocese.  This year, tita Emilia has turned over the responsibility of leadership and stewardship of the Divine Mercy communities in Mindanao to the late founder’s beloved daughter, Purita Arsenia “Joji” Ilagan-Bian.  Yes, no less than Davao’s respected and well-loved icon for education, business, fashion and diplomacy.

Emilia Sorongon vda. de Sitjar

     “I am humbled and blessed with this great opportunity.  This is quite different from the usual leadership positions I have had in the past since this is a leadership legacy.    This is special for me since I am serving the Lord of the Divine Mercy Himself.  It is truly a challenge as my term starts during the Covid pandemic.  I need to plan and strategize well in order to revitalize the organization and its members.  And yes, familiarize everyone with the new technology.  It’s truly challenging to be a part of the global network of the Divine Mercy Apostolates which spans from the Philippines, Asia and the World Apostolic Congress of Mercy,” disclosed Joji Ilagan-Bian.


Founder of the Divine Mercy-Mindanao, Ma. Celina Javellana-Ilagan

  “Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate the birth our Lord of Mercy.  It is also a time of reflection and a magical time for children and families.  This year, the Divine Mercy Apostolate Archdiocese of Davao is launching the ‘My Gift of Mercy.’ It is the perfect gift that you can give to your friends and love ones. ‘My Gift of Mercy’ is an opportunity to invite family members and friends to encounter anew the merciful love of the Lord.  Proceeds from the sales of this special gift item will help support the Apostolates in the corporal works of the Divine Mercy in different parishes,” revealed Joji Ilagan-Bian over merienda at Rekado with the attendance of tita Emilia Sitjar, Divine Mercy Treasurer/Cortess Printing Press proprietor Edna Ramirez, Emilia’s Jewellery’s Emil S. Sitjar, Rekado/Patok sa Manok/Mr. & Mrs. B’s loving owner Lena Benedicto, and myself as invited guest. 

Gift of Mercy by Manuel Montoya

       “This ‘Gift of Mercy’ is a limited edition Plate No. 006/750 Season 1 painting of the Davao-born artist, Manuel ‘Boy’ Montoya. This is his first issue in the collection produced on porcelain plates as commissioned by the Divine Mercy Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Davao.  Montoya took a course in Art Studies at London’s International Correspondence School. Montoya’s artworks reflect influences from European Impressionism to Japanese Art Modern. Montoya’s Divine Mercy artwork of a harvest scene done in clear, bright colours will match any style of interior design,” assures tita Emilia S. Sitjar. The ‘Gift of Mercy’ comes in a special box ready for gift-giving.

     The ‘Gift of Mercy’ is available by order through Joji Ilagan Bian (c/o Abbie 09083349006) or Emila Sitjar (c/o Jojo 09355556360).  You can also send a message to the Divine Mercy Apostolate Davao (official page).



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