Monday, September 8, 2014

Peñafrancia Festival Fluvial Procession in Naga City

The feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is celebrated by millions of Filipino Roman Catholics in the City of Naga, Camarines Sur province, on the third Saturday and Sunday of September. A nine-day novena is offered to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia starting on the second Friday of September. On the first day of the novena, the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is transferred from the Penafrancia Shrine to the Naga Cathedral in a procession (the Traslacion) attended by many devotees. On the ninth day of the novena, the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia will returned to the Basilica Minore in a Fluvial Procession.

vendor selling candles along the banks of Naga River

Last year, we were able to attend the Penafrancia Fluvial Procession in Naga City. As we expected, it will be attended by many devotees and pilgrims. We arrived at Naga City on the day of the fluvial procession. We left Legazpi City at noon time to make it on time for the start of the fluvial procession at 3:00pm. We were advised by the Naga City Tourism Office that spectators are longer allowed to watch the procession from the city's bridges so we chose a spot along the river where the procession will pass through.

male devotees paddling their boats 

By 3:00pm families start to line the banks of Naga River. Some houses along river have opened their gates to welcome devotees to their backyards, to have a closer view of the pagoda carrying the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. It was a very solemn, community-oriented procession. Everyone was carrying a candle waiting in anticipation for the passing of the pagoda. Here are short clips of the fluvial procession showing male devotees paddling their boats that pull the ropes attached to the pagoda.

Devotees and pilgrims were shouting Viva La Virgen as the procession of boats pass by. As the afternoon sky started to get dark, candles held by the devotees illuminated the banks of the river. Their praises get louder and louder as the pagoda carrying the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia gets nearer.

As the pagoda passed by, devotees waved their handkerchiefs as they shouted Viva La Virgen, in their faith that their hopes and prayers, through the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, will be answered.

The pagoda carries the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro (the Holy Face). The image is escorted by bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Caceres and an all-male group of devotees. On board the pagoda are police escorts provided by the city government to ensure safety and order inside the pagoda.

The fluvial procession will continue until it crosses under Magsaysay Bridge and will end at the Basilica Minore where the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia will again be enshrined. A Pontifical Mass will follow the fluvial procession. The Solemnity of Our Lady of Peñafrancia will be celebrated on Sunday following the fluvial procession.

Attending the Peñafrancia Festival Fluvial Procession was indeed a very spiritually enriching experience for Filipino Roman Catholics. This annual celebration demonstrates the faith and devotion of the Bicolanos to their beloved patroness. This faith binds them together as a people, united in prayer.

Schedule of Peñafrancia Festival Fluvial Procession 2014
This year's fluvial procession is scheduled on September 20, 2014 (third Saturday of September). The procession will start at 3:00pm starting from the Naga Cathedral and will end at Basilica Minore.

How to get to Naga City
Several airlines serve a number of flights everyday between Manila and Naga. Flights take less than an hour. Bus liners also have several trips everyday from Cubao and Pasay to Naga City. Land travel takes about 10 hours. Alternatively, pilgrims and visitors can take a flight to Legazpi City in Albay province (one hour). From the Legazpi Grand Terminal in Legazpi City, there are vans and buses bound to Naga City (2-3 hours). Vans will drop the passengers at the Naga City Transport Terminal beside SM Naga. The terminal is just three blocks away from Naga River where the fluvial procession will be held. We found our spot along Balintawak Street. There are also spots along Elias Angeles Street, Blumentritt Street, Dayangdang Street and Penafrancia Avenue. See map below for reference.

Green Pin: Naga Cathedral
Red Pin: Basilica Minore
Green Lines: Procession on the street
Blue Line: Route of the Fluvial Procession
Blue Bus: Naga City Transportation Terminal

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