Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Viva La Virgen! Ina 300, Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia

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One festival that I am most fascinated of is the Feast of our Lady of Peñafrancia or fondly known as Ina by the locals. This image is one of the most popular images of Mary. Her festivity is celebrated every month of September at Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Like the Black Nazarene (Nazareno) of Quiapo, thousands or even millions of devotees all over the country gather to celebrate the festivity. I was lucky enough to be able to cover Her 300 years of devotion. Highlights include the image’s translacion, novenas, and fluvial procession.

For more photos of the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, pls. visit my Facebook album by clicking this link Viva La Virgen! Ina 300.

Translacion – The festivities will always start with the Translacion procession. The image of Ina and the Divino Rostro are mounted on their sphere-like carroza (resembling to a big disco ball), pulled by barefooted male devotees known as voyadores from the basilica minore to the cathedral. Passing through the main streets of the city, the procession will usually lasts for hours. This remarkable tradition marks the start of the novena to Ina. Thousands or even millions of devotees pay homage to the miraculous patron of the Bicol Regions. Men and women gather and join the translacion procession.

Fluvial Procession – At the end of the novena to Ina, a fluvial procession will be held, voyaging the stretch of the Bicol River back to the basilica minore. The images will be ridden in a pagoda accompanied by faithful men, where thousands of voyadores row, pulling the pagoda (the pagoda is not machine-operated) along the river. It was believed that having a lady on board will cause chaos and misfortune. Devotees find their spot and wait patiently for the images to pass by, prepared to shout “VIVA LA VIRGEN!” to high heavens. Upon reaching the basilica, a solemn mass will be offered. The basilica grounds are flooded with devotees each holding a candle for Ina. The basilica grounds resembles to a field of stars.

This was indeed an experience I will never forget. I couldn’t help but shed tears because of the solemnity of the event. Traditions that have been drawn from the deep devotions are simply remarkable. I maybe a Manileño but I could never deny my Bicolandia roots.


Do not forget to visit the churches of Ina. The Peñafrancia Church (the original home of Ina), The Basilica Minore (currently the home of Ina) and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Just in front of the cathedral is the Porta Mariae-a structure constructed in commemoration of the tercentenary of the devotion to Ina. The second floor of the Porta Mariae has a small museum. You may also want to visit the Peñafrancia Musem (not in the picture) just near the Peñafrancia Church.

Travel and Coverage Tips:
- You can get to Naga via Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific. Or you may opt to engage yourself in a long trip via major bus lines. My preference will always be Cagsawa Bus Tours with terminals at Cubao (beside Ali Mall), Ermita (near Robinsons Manila), and Alabang. Bus fare, P750-P800.
- Book your accommodation, flights, and bus tickets early. Our Lady of Peñafrancia has millions of devotees. Even bus lines are fully booked during this festival.
- The parish only releases limited no. of IDs for non-media people. You can check the availability and procedures by contcating the person-in-charge.
- For journalists and photographers, always find and sturdy spot to take pictures esp. during the translacion and fluvial procession. The crowd tend to be balistic during these activities.
- For more information, you can visit the basilica site by clicking this link, http://penafrancia.net/

Listen to the Peñafrancia Hymn, press play!

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