Advisory: Keep refreshing as we update this post.
Naga city.- Images of the Our Lady of the Virgin of Peña de Francia and the Divino Rostro will be returned to their permanent home at the Basilica Minore in barangay Balatas. The almost solemn procession via a circuituous route that traces the street of Elias Angeles to the waiting specially constructed Naga river barge. just opposite the city public market. From there, the images will sail up the Bicol river tributary, which is almost parallel to the avenue named after the Virgin’s original mountainous place of discovery in Spain, centuries earlier.
Peñafrancia Fluvial- Venerated Catholic Images of the Virgin and the Divino Rostro Comes Back to the Basilica
12:48 PM: Mass at the Naga Cathedral has just ended. Since the venerated images were transferred from the Basica Minore last Friday, regular novena masses were held at the Naga Cathedral for nine days. Today, continuous masses are held. Another mass is being celebrated right after the last one has ended.
It should be noted that at exactly 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the last mass should have been finished. It will signal the start of the penitential procession and fluvial event once the images are transferred to their individual “andas” or carriages.
From the landing site, where the images will be transferred from the carriage to the barge, the fluvial route will pass under major bridges that span across the Naga river which include Panganiban, Colgante and Magsaysay.
Last year, Naga city has been officially declared a “Pilgrim City” under Presidential Proclamation number 33 of 2010 because of the unfolding events of the tercentenary celebration. Bicol is the only region of the Philippines with a regional religious devotion.
2:38 PM. As the religious observance reaches the summit of celebration this afternoon, people from all walks of life, devotees, enthusiasts and tourists mingle about the streets of Naga, particularly at the cathedral grounds. Mass is being held inside the full-packed church today, more people stay and wait outside.
Today officially closes the year-long Tercentenary celebration of the Bicolano devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia, acknowledged patroness of the Catholics in the Bicol region. This years theme is: ”Monstrate esse filium” (You may all show that you are worthy sons and daughters of Ina).
Like in previous years’ Traslacion and Fluvial celebrations, the images used during the week-long festivities could only be the replicas. The “originals” are usually kept safe. One reason for this was due to the “old” age and the effects of the elements.
3:38 PM. The Divino Rostro (DV) was placed on the carriage already and all set to start the procession. Instead of the usual 3:00 PM start, the procession begins at 4 pm due one more mass was celebrated to accommodate the throng of devotees.
4:14 PM. While the image of the Virgin awaits transfer to the carriage, the Divino Rostro has been rolling on the street for a while now. Inside the cathedral, people were given chance to go near the image. Some even wiped their kerchiefs on the image “feet.”
4:23 PM. Priests carried the image of the Virgin from the altar and mounted to the waiting carriage. Immediately the procession started. Like the past years, priest are on board the carriage to catch kerchiefs thrown by devotees and rubbed on the image then thrown back to the sea of people.
4:44 PM. Ever since the adoption of the new “andas” the procession of imgaes became faster and efficient unlike previous years when voyadores were carrying the images. About this time, it will less than 20 mintues for the Divino Rostro to get to the landing where the barge was waiting.
5:09 PM. Quite interesting and a good wait. The waiting barge, in almost glowing white early on docked and ready at the landing area. The Divino Rostro was first firmly installed occupying the front area. The barge can accomodate from between 180 to 200 persons. Almost all Diocese under the See of Caceres are given spot(s) and represented at the barge.
But what makes the carriage of the Virgin wander left and right on its journey towards the landing was the uncontrolled efforts of some men who would try to board the carriage.
5:34 PM. The Virgin now on board the barge. The “vancuerna” is not motorized. Hundreds of small boats are tied to the barge which eventually pull the water craft forward. The Bicolano fervor and faith on the Virgin of Peñafrancia is unwavering. As the Pagoda passes onlookers, many wave whhite kerchiefs. both sides of the river bank, candles were lighted. A continuous recitation of the rosary was maintained with strategic locations mounted with loud speakers for the purpose.
5:50 PM. The Naga river is a shallow tributary of the Bicol river. before the festivities, volunteer organizations, civic groups, a contingent of the Philippine Army, band together in cleaning the waterways of water lilies and dumped garbage. Naga, like all cities and municipalities of the country, has no effective garbage disposal system. Residents throw their refuse on the river.
6:11 PM. The slow course in movement or flow of the barge definitely caused by low water level, noticeably near around the Colgante bridge. The long line of boats pulling the craft had to compensate. By this time, dark has started to engulf the fluvial parade. The lighted candles by the river banks greatly enhances a dramatic atmosphere yet on the event.
6:10 PM. Few minutes from now and the fluvial procession will make its way under the last bridge, the Magsaysay.
7:05 PM. Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi will celebrate the mass at the Dome by the Basilica Minore. Six bishops of the archdiocese are expected to join the celebration of the mass.
Happy Fiesta Naga city and Bicolandia. Satuya gabos, where ever there’s a Bicolano. Maogmang ka-fiestahan. Viva La Virgen de Peñafrancia!!! Viva El Divino Rostro!!!
Photos by our Tony Abalayan, Jr.