Naga City's Peñafrancia Festival is considered as the grandest Marian Celebration in the country. Catholics and Bicolanos from different parts of the world unite in faith in manifesting their sincere devotion to the beloved "Ina" and patroness of Bicol - the Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Celebrated last September 15, 2012, the fluvial procession is the culminating event of the festival as thousands of devotees flock to Naga City, Camarines Sur to join the festivities as the image of Ina was bought back to her shrine, the Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia.
It was a fiesta atmosphere when I arrived in Naga City via an Airphil Express flight. This year marks the festival’s 302nd anniversary. There were a lot of people and the roads were closed for the procession. Me and my friend proceeded to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral where the image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia stayed for a 9-day novena. A mass was being held inside the cathedral when we arrived, we joined the devotees waiting for the image of Ina to be brought out for the fluvial procession.
At around 3:00 PM, the doors of the church were closed in preparation for the Divino Rostro and Ina to be brought out. At 3:30 PM, the image of the Divino Rostro was brought out and was placed at the float and then out of the church's grounds.
A few minutes before 4:00 PM, the image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia was brought out of the church and was placed on the metal carriage float. People started shouting "Viva La Virgen, Viva!" and waved their handkerchiefs. The feeling was truly ecstatic! You could really feel the genuine devotion of the Bicolanos towards Ina. I am at awe as I witness the unparalleled display of the devotees' faith, fervor and profound devotion.
With the help of barefooted voyadores or guardians of Ina, the float was ushered out of the church's grounds.
The procession started at the cathedral passing through the thousands of devotees overflowing the streets waiting for the miraculous image to pass by. It was an inexplicable and enigmatic feeling. It's my first time to attend the festival and I could really feel the reverence of the people to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
The images of the Divino Rostro and the Our Lady of Peñafrancia were then transferred to a barge for the vibrant fluvial procession.
My friend and I went to Panganiban Bridge to wait for the fluvial procession to start. There were already a lot of devotees waiting at the bridge and at the riverbanks. Good thing we were able to get through and we’re able to get a pretty good spot to witness the procession.
It was already 5:30 PM when the fluvial procession passed by the bridge. Again, people shouted to the high heavens "Viva La Virgen! Viva!". Being a catholic, this experience of a religious festival is unforgettable. It was a moving encounter with the miraculous image of "Ina".
No wonder, Marian pilgrims and Bicolanos from all over the world come home to Naga City every September to pay homage to "Ina". It's an experience I will never forget. Viva La Virgen de Peñafrancia!
We ended our day with a nice dinner in one of the restaurants nearby. Then I proceeded to my next destination, Daet, Camarines Norte.
Come and experience Peñafrancia Festival! Airphil Express flies daily to Naga City. Book now at http://airphilexpress.com, follow them on twitter at @airphilexpress or like them on Facebook at facebook.com/airphilexpressph.
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