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City of Naga, Bicol, Philippines : Today is  July 12, 2024

Fluvial Procession Highlights Festival

After the Traslacion on September 9, anticipation is high for the Fluvial Procession.  

A foot procession, to begin after the 2:00pm Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, will bring the images of the Divino Rostro and of Our Lady of Peñafrancia to the Reina del Bikol (Danlugan) at the east side of Tabuco Bridge, Naga City.   

According to Fr. Juan Pablo Z. Carpio, Vice Rector of the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore, medical frontliners have been invited to board the pagoda. They will come from the parishes of the Archdiocese of Caceres and the six suffragan dioceses of Legazpi, Sorsogon, Masbate, Daet, Virac and Libmanan.

In 2019, the last fluvial procession, representatives of the youth sector rode the pagoda in keeping with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines designation of 2019 as Year of the Youth.  The tradition of inviting a particular sector to the fluvial procession was introduced by Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD.

This year, the Archdiocese of Caceres invited Most Rev. Jose Colin M. Bagaforo, D.D., Bishop of Kidapawan, to join the fluvial procession. He will board the pagoda, according to Fr. Gerome N. Pelagio, secretary to the Archbishop of Caceres.

Bp. Bagaforo is the Chairman of Episcopal Commission on Social Action Justice and Peace, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The commission, commonly known as NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action), is the national Caritas of the Philippines, a member organization of the Caritas Internacionales, a worldwide confederation of Catholic charities.

Fr. Pelagio revealed that Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose F. Advincula, Jr, D.D. will preside over the Mass at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore, after the fluvial procession.  Cardinal Advincula was the archbishop of his native Capiz when he was elevated as cardinal in 2020. A canon lawyer, he was appointed Archbishop of Manila in 2021, succeeding Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle.

“The Archdiocese holds Cardinal Advincula in high esteem. As a member of the College of Cardinals, he is eligible to vote in a conclave to elect the next pope,” Fr. Pelagio explained. 

Another guest of the Archdiocese is Bishop Oscar Jaime L. Florencia, of the Military Ordinariate. He will say Mass on September 16 at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. The ordinariate is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction responsible for Catholics in the Philippine armed forces, the police, and coast guard. ­­­

“Inviting bishops and priests to our celebration is one way of sharing our experience of the devotion,” Fr. Pelagio added. “But while they help devotees bring the devotion to the head level, so devotees can understand better the various expressions of faith, bishops and priests are also inspired by the devotion of the people. The strong faith of the people strengthens the clergy.”

Such was the experience of Fr. Enrico Paglinawan who got a glimpse of the devotion of a voyador.  He was one of the priests tasked to guard the andas (carriage) of the Divino Rostro.

Fr. Paglinawan recalled how a man climbed the andas. “He asked politely if he would be given the chance to stay as he was praying for his father. When he was again reprimanded to get off, he replied, pwede pong dai ako maghali ta dai man po baga ako nagpapasaway (May I stay? I am not causing any trouble.),” Fr. Paglinawan added. “He prayed sincerely to the Holy Face of Jesus.”

Prior to the procession, the Joint Operations Center composed of Church and civil authorities repeatedly said that only Cofradia de San Jose members who registered and attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar would be allowed to carry the andas.  Police and military personnel were also deployed as human barricade in an attempt to prevent people from climbing the andas. Wearing of face masks was required, but most voyadores did not comply.

Similar to the pre-pandemic Traslacion, thousands of voyadores pushed and pulled each other as they clawed their way towards the images of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Penafrancia.  Another familiar sight along the procession’s route were the rows of eye-catching banderitas of the Naga City government’s corporate sponsors which include telecommunications networks, a food chain, and a beer company.

The Traslacion was opened by the ceriales, altar servers bearing the processional cross and candlestick. Ahead of the image of the Divino Rostro, schools and organizations walked to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, heeding the call for a solemn procession. According to Fr. Glenn Ruiz, Director of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, out of 173 listed participating groups, 82 were present.

Julma M. Narvadaez

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