Filipino community to build shrine at Grotto
Filipino community to build shrine at Grotto
More than 100 leaders of the Filipino community in Oregon and supporters gathered last month at the conference center of the Grotto in Northeast Portland for the official launching of Dambana: The Filipino Faith Shrine.

The shrine is a collaboration between the Filipino community of Oregon and the Grotto, the National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, in Portland.

It will be built on the upper gardens and feature the image of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus), as well as the Blessed Mother and San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, as all three are symbols of the community’s cultural affinity with these intercessors. Dambana — the Tagalog word for shrine or altar — is envisioned as a sanctuary that blends Filipino faith and culture. It is a symbol of the community’s unity and dedication, and will serve as a legacy to future generations.

“This is our Filipino dream in Oregon – to build the Dambana, as a testament to our strong and involved community, grounded in its faith and values, and dedicated to serving each other,” says Pia de Leon, one of the organizers of the project.

Although the Grotto is a Catholic shrine, it was created as “…a place for all peoples of the earth,” dedicated to the peace of humanity. Today, the Grotto remains a place of peace and quiet reflection for all people, regardless of religious orientation. Few metropolitan areas have such a botanical garden that is open to everyone. The 63-acre site welcomes more than 240,000 visitors of all faiths each year.

“And now, we [Filipinos] have been invited and are grateful for the opportunity to stake our permanent place to gather and worship,” says Dolly Pangan-Specht, fundraising chair for the project.

“It takes more than a team of dedicated volunteer organizers to realize this mission,” she says. “More than the practical goal of raising $50,000 for construction costs, the important focus is the unity that this will bring about, because we firmly believe that when we come together in this, money will follow.

“We are counting on the support of all Filipinos not just in Oregon, because this is, after all, a national shrine,” she says.

Construction, which will be undertaken by A.C. Schommer and Sons, will begin in May. The Dambana is scheduled for unveiling and dedication on Sept. 28, during the Eucharistic celebration of the feast day of San Lorenzo Ruiz, now on its 12th anniversary. This tradition has become a major annual Portland event that draws Filipinos from all over Oregon and Washington and continues to strengthen the community.