A religious art gallery is how many would describe the parks of Eternal Gardens. Marked by a collection of religious icons, each park exhibits Filipino culture and reverence to Christianity. The towering statue of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is easily distinguished as a landmark wherever an Eternal Gardens park is found. Not only is it very noticeable due to its height, its artistic value and the excellence of the company that it has been symbolizing for 38 years also make it distinct and a true masterpiece.
No less than National Artist for Visual Arts Dean Napoleon V. Abueva designed the Transfiguration and executed three out of the eight images that now loom over the company’s branches. These are the ones in the pioneering branch in Baesa, Caloocan; in Eternal Gardens Cabanatuan, and in Eternal Gardens Santa Rosa, Laguna. Each version was crafted to perfection by the masterful hands of the national artist himself.
The five other statues in Eternal Gardens Dagupan City; Biñan, Laguna, and in the cities of Batangas, Lipa, and Naga were executed by other talented Filipino artists, such as Florante “Boy” Caedo and Amado Castrillo.
Aside from the Transfiguration, other religious images can be found at Eternal Gardens Memorial Parks. Among these is the Brown Madonna or Kayumangging Ina. This piece of art depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Filipina mother carrying the infant Jesus and clad in our native baro’t saya. A work of Caedo, a small scale replica of the image was presented by company founder and chairman emeritus Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua in the Vatican to Saint Pope John Paul II in 1985.
The first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, is also being honored in most of the Eternal Gardens Memorial Parks. The martyr was killed in Japan in the 17th century for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
A masterpiece of Castrillo that was inspired by the Pieta can be found at Eternal Gardens Biñan. Called Dalamhati or Sorrowing Mother, it shows the Blessed Virgin Mary embracing her son Jesus on the cross. The image has now become the symbol of Eternal Crematory, a sister company of Eternal Gardens.
When the company began its expansion to the key provinces of Luzon, it also started the tradition of honoring the patron or patroness of the city or town that hosts each park. Plazas adorned with the images of the holy men and women were built in the park to pay them homage.
Eternal Gardens Dagupan dedicated a plaza to Our Lady of Manaoag, the city’s patroness. The image of Our Lady that adorns the plaza was a work of Castrillo. The same branch honors Mother Ignacia Del Espiritu Santo, foundress of the Religious of the Virgin Mary congregation and another Filipino on her way to sainthood. A plaza in her honor can also be found in Eternal Gardens Batangas.
The image of the Infant Jesus, more popularly known among Filipinos as the Sto Niño, has a plaza in Eternal Gardens Batangas, where it is the patron, in Eternal Gardens Lipa, and in Eternal Gardens Naga. A symbol of purity of heart, the Sto. Niño is one of the most venerated images of Christ in the country.
In Eternal Gardens Lipa a plaza in honor of Mary Mediatrix can be found as she is the patroness of the Lipeños. The branch in Naga City, on the other hand, is home to a plaza that honors Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the miraculous image of the Blessed Mother to whom the Nagueños are deeply devoted.
The patron of Holy Souls, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, graces a plaza in Eternal Gardens Cabanatuan. An image of the patron, to whom the Cabanatueños are devoted, was made by the sons of Castrillo, namely Ronald, Jonell, and Sandro, and now adorns the plaza dedicated to him.
A ninth statue of the Transfiguration was inaugurated at Eternal Gardens Concepcion, Batangas City in August 2013. In the same year, the branch’s first plaza was blessed in honor of the Immaculate Conception. The beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother, which is the centerpiece of the plaza, is a creation of Conrado F. Balubayan.
In June 2014, another Plaza of the Sto. Niño was inaugurated, this time at Eternal Gardens Santa Rosa. The beautiful image of the child Jesus, which is also a masterpiece of Balubayan, is the second piece of religious art to be installed at the branch and the very first plaza inside the park.
The 10th Transfiguration image was unveiled at Greenhills Park, Cagayan de Oro City, officially bringing the company’s symbol of excellence to Mindanao. Another work of Balubayan, this statue was the first to be rendered in concrete and to rise outside Luzon.
Truly, Eternal Gardens Memorial Park is more than just a final resting place for our dearly departed. It is also a place of tranquility for the living with its serene ambiance. As the company continues to grow, it also continues to be a preserver of Filipino culture with its growing collection of religious art pieces that make it a cut above the rest.