Catholic Sentinel photos by Sammi Massey
The Dambana shrine is located at the Grotto.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Sammi Massey
The Dambana shrine is located at the Grotto.
The tails of Filipino lanterns swayed in a tree by the chapel at The Grotto in Northeast Portland as Oregon Filipinos worshipped in celebration of their community.

Archbishop Emeritus John Vlazny dedicated the Filipino Dambana (Tagalog for altar) Shrine in September 2008. Since then it has served as a beacon of the Oregon and Southwest Washington Filipino community. The Dambana Festival began with a living rosary comprised of believers of all ages.

Father Francisco Bringuela celebrated Mass, which included hymns well known to American Catholics as well as Filipino songs in Tagalog. The homily meditated on the Dambana Shrine as a symbol of the reign of God in the lives of Filipino community members. Father Bringuela noted during his homily that, "as the Filipino community in Portland, we are fortunate to have the Dambana."

The Dambana shrine is located in the upper gardens of the Grotto near Polish and Lithuanian shrines. It embodies a Filipino flair both in architectural form and in the saints the shrine commemorates. The shrine takes the shape of a salakót, or the traditional hat for Filipino women. Three saints dear to the Filipino community—San Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila, protomartyr of the Philippines; the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the Santo Niño de Cebú — sit atop bamboo pillars inside of the shrine. During the festival, a large bouquet of flowers and a colorful Filipino lantern at the shrine marked the occasion.

“The Dambana has successfully bound us together as a community of faithful,” Father Bringuela said.