Spirit of Edsa Foundation

Statement of Historical Facts on the EDSA Shrine

by: Christopher Carrion

I set up a meeting Mrs. Celia Laurel sometime in 1986-1987 to discuss the idea of Erecting a Shrine honoring in thanksgiving Mama Mary for the peaceful Revolution barely a year after the Marian year 1985. She conveyed that her Plan then was to set up an Ecumenical Place of Worship, which Cardinal Sin disagreed with.

I met with then Fr. Nico Bautista, the parish priest of Magallanes back then and conveyed my idea as well, but this times anxiously supported it and promised to arrange a meeting with Msgr. Josefino “Pepe” Ramirez, the Vical General of the RCAM.

A meeting was arranged with Msgr. Ramirez at the RCAM in Intramuros, who readily supported it with much enthusiasm and promised to schedule a meeting with Cardinal Sin. To our pleasant surprise, Cardinal Sin stepped in unexpectedly in the office of Msgr. Ramirez, which according to Msgr. Ramirez was rarely experienced. I was properly introduced and I briefly conveyed my idea to the good Cardinal. He excitedly approved of it and readily gave me the go-signal to start by creating the Committee on the property. He discussed the possibility of constructing the EDSA Shrine at the corner of Ortigas and EDSA considering that he anticipated that Don Francisco Ortigas would be open to donating a piece of property for this purpose.

We then got Don Francisco Ortigas to donate 1,200 square meters as expected. We then decided we needed a bigger property so planned to as Mr. John Gokongwei if he was willing to donate 3,800 square meters to add to the Ortigas donation, to total 5,000 square meters combined, out of the property he had just purchased for his Robinson complex.

We had written President Cory Aquino to solicit her support in helping us persuade Mr. Gokongwei, but she responded by saying that it wouldn’t be proper for The President to ask, as she now was President of the county and should not show bias to her own faith. She referred me to then Secretary Joe Conception of the Department of Trade and Industry, who simply arranged an appointment for me with Mr. Gokongwei.

Following contract negotiations with Mr. Gokongwei, he only approved to donate 1,000 square meters for the Shrine n the condition that the design would factor in its entrance and exit facing the proposed Robinsons shopping mall.

We met with Architect Bobby Mañosa and relayed the plans, and informed him about the favorable developments and the Cardinal’s approval to proceed with the project, to which he offered his services for free to the Cardinal.

We then formed the Executive Committee as follows:

  1. His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin – Honorary Chairman
  2. Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes – Overall Chairman
  3. Msgr. Josefino S. Ramirez – Vice Chairman
  4. Fr. James Reuter, SJ
  5. Fr. Rodrigo Perez, OSB
  6. Sr. Angelina Fernando, RVM
  7. Mrs. Henrietta T. de Villa
  8. Mrs. Cecile Oppen
  9. Mrs. Josefina Reyes
  10. Don Francisco Ortigas
  11. Mr. Christopher L. Carrion
  12. Arch. Francisco Mañosa
  13. Mr. Oscar Villadolid
  14. Mr. Vic Gutierrez

We held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site with the President and Vice-President in attendance together with former Chief of Staff, General Fidel V. Ramos, Mr. Ortigas and Gokongwei, Architect Mañosa and his wife, Denise, the undersigned and members of the Executive Committee.

We approved the proposal of Fr. Sonny Ramirez to conduct Operation Blue Heart on February 14 to raise funds for the Shrine’s construction as one of the first fund-raising effort of the Finance Sub-Committee, whose members were as follows:

  1. Msgr. Josefino S. Ramirez – Chairperson
  2. Christopher L. Carrion – Co-Chairperson
  3. SEC Chairperson, Rosario Lopez
  4. PCCI President, Victor Lim
  5. Mr. Jesus Cardenas

During the second EDSA Anniversary where June Kiethley and Fr. Reuter were Chairpersons, we had put in place at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas, a booth to receive donations to the EDSA Shrine together with Operation Blue Heart proponents.

We followed this fund raising effort with a very successful fund-raising Cocktail Reception at the Cardinal’s Palace where we had invited the top 50 taipans or captains of industry and raised several millions to the great satisfaction of Cardinal Sin.

As part of the Design Criteria, I conceptualized the incorporation of “people power steps” where the names of “EDSA Heroes”, including the millions of people gratefully recognizing her intercession for a peaceful restoration of our Freedom, would be engraved as a meaningful and effective scheme to raise funds.

In one major Executive Committee meeting called by the Cardinal to address the different artist’s design of our Lady of Peace, I was prepared to advised the Committee that I secured from the Consulate of Portugal their intent to donate a 40-foot statute of Our lady of Fatima for the EDSA Shrine, considering this was the popular presence throughout the four day revolution, but was surprised to hear that the Cardinal had already decided to award the contract to Virginia Ty Navarro. The Cardinal then presented the perspective drawing of the artist. I no longer informed the Committee considering the issue was moot.

During the construction of the statue of Mama Mary as conceptualized by the artist, I had gone to check on the development of the work and took pictures that I had forwarded to the Cardinal. Disappointingly, we found portions of the statue to be disproportionate and not acceptable. Apparently the Cardinal called the artist and asked her to revise and correct her work. The artist later learned the source to be me and since then personally refused to see me.

The Inauguration of the EDSA Shrine was scheduled on December 8, 1989, but the Cardinal called for an emergency meeting earlier to discuss the rescheduling of it in view of the on-going Coup attempt. At which time, President Cory Aquino called to advise that was attending the inauguration coup or no coup and that the original schedule must be followed as planned, in the open air in the open veranda intended for the same Shrine.

The Coup Attempt was quashed a day before the inauguration (December 7) and President Cory Aquino delivered a historical and extemporaneous speech during the successful inaugural of the EDSA Shrine.