Since Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Philippines, the Filipino community also has a great devotion to the Virgin. So it was a great honor for Filipino dancers and a singer to be featured at the annual “Las Mañanitas” celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The only hurdle for Monette De Guzman, the Filipina singer invited to sing during the event? She had never sung in Spanish before.

“I thought I’d be singing in Tagalog, but they said it would be in Spanish,” De Guzman said. “So without even knowing what to sing, and wondering will I be able to memorize in Spanish, I just said yes, just like Mary said.”

To prepare for singing two songs — “Ave Maria” and “Adiós, Oh Virgen” — De Guzman found the Spanish lyrics, then reached out to some of the Hispanic musicians at her church for help.

But to go even further, she translated the lyrics into English, so she could understand what she was singing.

“So I’d be able to put emotion,” she said.

As she belted out both songs, swaying with the background music provided by mariachis, De Guzman couldn’t help but think of her own devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“She’s like my first mother,” De Guzman said. “I even pray to her and talk to her first even before I talk to my mom because I can talk to her anytime. She inspires me when it comes to faith because it’s really hard to say yes to something you’re not sure of.

“Knowing that Mary, because of her yes, it benefitted all of us.”

A resident of Northridge and a cantor at three churches — Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Northridge, St. Genevieve Church in Panorama City, and Our Lady of Peace Church in North Hills — De Guzman was thrilled to bring the Filipino heart, soul, and spirit into the event, but also to emphasize the universality of Mary.

“I really feel that Mary is the mother of everyone, not just Filipinos,” she said. “I think it’s the start of something really beautiful that we’re embracing different ways of practicing our faith and showing our love to mother Mary.”