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Church photographed from about 150 meters away

To turn the spotlight on National Heritage Month last May, pop culture collector-exhibitor Danny Dolor gathered singers and musicians for his 14th in a series of sunset serenades—Harana sa Dapit Hapon—and then paid tribute to his friend, Dely Magpayo, by displaying some of her ternos. That’s not all. He pulled out of his trunk of collectibles the covers of Pilipino komiks heroes and heroines including Darna, Dyesebel, and Lapu-Lapu.

The festival of heritage art and music was a sumptuous feast for the senses—eyes, ears, imagination, memory—as well as for the tastebuds: Lunch and merienda of Batangas cuisine and beverages. All of which invited nostalgia to come tiptoeing in: The future will never be this sweet again!

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Painter’s rendering of church on a hill

The setting for Dolor’s triple event was his 12-hectare estate dedicated to the memory of his mother, Soledad, in barrio Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City. Soledad, as the estate is known, was once a sugarcane plantation; today it is her son’s piece of paradise away from the mad scramble of Makati and Manila. On top of a softly curving hill sits the five-year-old parish church of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces. Meters away stands the shrine of St. Joseph. Coming down the gently sloping hill and crossing a swath of freshly trimmed grass—“As soon as the rains come, everything turns green here!” gushed Danny—the visitor is led into what the lord of this   fiefdom calls his Pavilion of Memories. Wall after wall, the two-story building contains murals of old pictures blown up to lifesize, plus a hoard of souvenirs, antique furniture, and more memorabilia. Venetian mirrors, precious porcelain and china, silver spoons, lacy tablecloths, more pictures of the family dating back to 1930, those of Soledad being the most prominent.

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Fr. Toti Mandanas, Danny Dolor, and parish priest Fr. Conrado Castillo in front of holy water font, one of a pair that was Susan Roces’ gift

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Main altar of the five-year-old church

“My mother did not go beyond high school, but with my father as the pharmacist, together they built up Dolor’s Pharmacy, first in downtown Manila Escolta, Azcarraga, Malate—then branched out to Cebu and Davao,” Danny told visitors as they toured the pavilion. Soledad had excellent business sense, and soon owned a chain of savings banks, including the largest in her time. As her investments prospered she went into real estate and became an assemblywoman. Believing in multiplying by sharing her blessings, she donated generally to the Church and clergy, even the military. Camp Soledad of the Army in Quezon province is named after her.

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Nude painting in main house indicates Ladies Room

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Old dining table replete with antique china and silver

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Columns and arches inside Church of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, Lipa City

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How many churches have confessionals that look like this?

Written large on one wall of the Pavilion is her advice on how to correct any perceived mistake after buying property: Just be patient and wait.

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