Archive for the ‘Penafrancia’ Category

Soup Kitchen Project in Penafrancia Parish

April 5, 2009

To help feed the poor residents of Naga City a group of church-goers of the Penafrancia Shrine bonded together to set up a soup kitchen. The weekly project supported by donations from friends and benefactors started last March 21, 2009 with indigents of Liboton, Penafrancia and San Felipe as recipients.

The humanitarian activity which aims to supplement the nutrition of the poor is spearheaded by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Gerry Hernandez who serves as the spiritual director. Volunteers include Dulce de Guzman as president, Joan Padillo, secretary-treasurer; Helen Juanillo auditor; Capt. Roland Villanueva, Tony and Edna Amparado, Pacing Oriño, Josie Lumangaya, Naty Virata, Eden Agravante, Lolit de Jesus, Mameng Roñosa and Shirley Mendoza, members. (Photo Credit: Princesse_Laya) =0=

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Wowowee, Penafrancia fiesta, & the 229 people injured in the Black Nazarene procession of Quiapo

January 9, 2009

The 13-hour religious parade snaked its way in the city drawing thousands of religious believers to walk in supplication until the revered black icon of Jesus was returned in the Quiapo Church on Friday, January 9, 2009 in Manila. I read there were 229 people who were injured during the procession. I couldn’t help recall the days when such spoiler incidents almost never happened.

As a kid who grew up in Naga City, the Traslacion, a similar feast honoring the Virgin of Penafrancia, was memorably peaceful. Lately however, like the Quiapo spectacle, the traslacion and fluvial procession in Bicol had been getting flak. People had not been as reverential and behaved as before. In September 2008, a rumble, a stone-throwing incident, and hostage-taking emergency in a bus dampened the fiesta in Naga.

Rarely were there scuffles and tramplings that put our limbs at risk in the crowd. That was in the past. Had a melee occured, our parents would have disallowed us into coming close to religious gatherings. We would have stayed at home to pay our private homage to God, in lieu of taking part in a dangerous holiday celebration.

But times have changed. The annual feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo has grown so big—almost unmanageable. The faith-based observance have lost part of its sanctity as people of plural intentions join. In spite of the Catholic clergy’s attempt to make the plebeian celebration a simple pious expression of faith, unintended incidents do happen. The open folk tradition of worship and contrition which borders to idolatry (as critics warned) has been marred by melee in a huge crowd with poor control.

People suffering from hypertensive spells and fainting due to excessive heat are getting more common. Difficulty of breathing from asthma has been reported in a number of weary processionistas. Contusions and abrasions caused by pushing and bare-foot walking have brought people rushing to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) reports of at least 23 people suspected to have suffered a heart attack. Surely, these are distractions which can be avoided. We need to act smart to prevent a full-blown mayhem.

Before the next Black Nazarene procession turns into a wholesale failure of crowd control— as hideous as the Wowowee stampede in February 2006, those who organize these events must devise a better plan. The Catholic clergy needs to modify the observance of the tradition. Nearly a thousand police officers and 300 PNRC volunteers are not enough to cope with the needs of the tight crowd.

In Wowowee, at least 74 innocent lives were lost in a recklessly planned TV extravaganza, most of them, trampled, brushed aside, and forgotten without the benefit of justice. (Photo Credits: Nesty Ocampo; Bobmani34; Nesty Ocampo) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Wowowee & the Temple Stampede in Northern India” Posted by mesiamd at 8/04/2008

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Paradetown Naga: Bugles Blare & the Girls Sashay

October 5, 2008





















Listen to the call of the street. Open your eyes. Feel the movement. Watch the sun and sky. Touch the air. Hear the steps. Smell the scents. Close your cellphone. Listen!

The cacophony of bugles and the blare of a giant microphone, the tinkle of a lyre and the harmony of a native song—there they are passing. In high boots and gaudy costumes, pretty girls with wands on their hands and feathers on their hair, sashaying to the beat of the drums. Shiny stardust on their eyes, they smile. So pleasing and amusing, the awesome spectacle has just begun.—Totie Mesia (Photo Credits: Dan Daz; JerryLimLee)============Penafrancia Parade 2008=============

With Angels Playing, Pitoy Moreno Recreates His Peñafrancia Fiesta in Naga

September 26, 2008

As the excitement of Penafrancia fiesta fades, we have something tantalizing to remember. To be part of the merriment blessed in heaven, in Calauag, Naga City, UP Ibalonian Pitoy Moreno aka Pitmo and his lovely wife Lala Espiritu-Moreno opened their warm and cozy home to friends.

The Morenos successfully pulled through with plenty of help from their two bubbly kids—Ira Nicole, the special 7-year old with a gift of gab who served as Pitoy’s most valuable receptionist. The cute little “miracle girl” whose heart condition called pulmonary stenosis seemed far away, was assisted by her older sister Gwyn Christianne.

The versatile duo wowed their guests with child tales and beautiful music to share. Brimming with earnestness and less-often seen bravado, the two lovely sisters had their musical instruments busy. Like pros from a concert stage, they played violin, marimba, bongus, and piano in front of their admiring guests.


In God’s grace and time, it was clear: the excellent food on the table was more than enough to savor and celebrate. Lala had all the herbs and essences all over the kitchen to add taste to the cuisine. It must be a creation of the true mother of the house from Nabua, Camarines Sur, whose people are well-known for their homestyle cooking, kindness, and hospitable nature.

If famous couturier Pitoy Moreno of Manila wove exquisite clothes which delighted the fashion sense in most of us, our own Pitoy, the civil engineer (with all the bells and whistles that go with it) gave true meaning to hospitality.

With his lovely and tireless wife, the good-humored supermom and entrepreneur from Rinconada, Pitoy was just the right guy to prove that friendships and good times do last—something he must have learned for spending time as OFW away from his loving family when he worked in Brunei, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and lately in far Kasakhstan.

Whether Ibalonians Imelda Caballes, Dan Daz, Benny Rayco, Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Mighty Baylon Jovy Mijares or Albert Molina, were present, it must be great to remember them all with Pitoy’s pretty angels who stood guard and played to bring out the zing for this year’s most memorable Penafrancia fiesta. =0=


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Like swans cruising in a lake, the majorettes enthrall crowds in a Naga parade

September 24, 2008


The parades in Naga City can’t be more spectacular without the stunning baton twirlers (aka majorettes) who strut with the blare of loud horns and the cadence of the drums. In their colorful costumes, they look like hybrids of the most exciting girls that roam the earth. They remind us of vivacious cheerers in a basketball game, the ballet dancers in a theatre, the contestants of a beauty contest and the gentle swans cruising in a lake.

Looking at their gaudy dresses and long spotless legs seems like watching the fantasia in a ballet production of Swan Lake. The girls pictured here remind me of Anna Pavlova, the legendary Russian dancer in the early 1900’s best known for her ballet interpretations of Camille Saint Saen’s “Dying Swan.” Pavlova enthralled crowds of her movements that was artistic and well-received in her time. The dance specially choreographed for her by Michel Fokine was such a part of her persona so that at her deathbed, Pavlova requested to be buried in her feathered gossamer swan costume.

In pictures sent by UP Ibalon’s Fatima Edna Balaquiao of the 2008 Penafrancia Fiesta Parade (plus old ones by Colnago & Molibok) the same swans of the ballet stage are somehow recreated by the pretty majorettes on the street. With their batons and the Chinese-inspired umbrellas, a similar soft feeling of elegance and grace must have beheld the on-lookers. The dazzling girls surely made Naga as captivating as ever. Photo Credits: Fatima Edna Balaquiao/Colnago/Moliboks=0=

Part II: The Colgante Bridge Tragedy of 1972

September 21, 2008

Part II: The Colgante Bridge Tragedy of 1972

by Totie Mesia and Mariso Ocampo

Desiring to help, many jumped instinctively into the river. With prodding from Naga Policeman Delfin Platon who heroically calmed the frantic crowd, they fished out bodies and survivors until they got lame tired, way beyond exhaustion. Muscle cramps and fatigue overtook the shivering rescuers who got relief from ablutions of “oil of wintergreen,” a liquid balm given by nameless people in the crowd.

The injuries were as apparent as the telltale signs of drowning after the Colgante Bridge collapse. Electrical burns made victim recognition hard. Grimy detritus from river trash messed-up some victims’ bloodied faces whose fingers, in cadaveric flexion, looked as if they were in prayer. With rigor mortis, the bodies, were hastily covered by wet newspapers. Many on-lookers cried. Overwhelmed by the horrific scene, others threw up in the shadows of a black sky.


It’s the religious faith of those who perished in Colgante that sets them apart from those who died violently in car crashes, ship wrecks, fraternity hazings, or those needlessly trampled upon by the Wowowee crowd. The Colgante deaths remind the people of commercialism that has invaded the Penafrancia celebration. Business and religious faith seemed to have bonded together more closely in every fiesta raising questions whether this should be.

The Colgante tragedy which claimed the lives of about 140 people was quickly brushed aside from public attention when martial law was declared 4 days after by Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972. The span where the gruesome deaths occurred should be aptly called “Faith Bridge,” in memory of those who died paying respects to the Virgin. Thirty-six years after the Colgante bridge collapse and 27 years after Ina vanished and returned, Bikol keeps a blurry recall and record of the events.


How many really died? Do we have a complete list of them who perished and suffered injuries in Colgante’s fall on September 16, 1972? Was there anyone made to answer for breach of duty? Were victims compensated at all, identified and given decent burials? Was there closure in every victim’s family?

The river deaths could have been avoided if the people didn’t crowd the bridge beyond its capacity to hold. Those in charge in the maintenance and safety could have known better. Perhaps if Colgante didn’t collapse, we wouldn’t be resigned in finding solace in “forgiving and forgetting” and invoking “God’s will.”

There could be loud merry shouts trailing “Viva la Virgen!” as the voyadores passed without thinking of the intransigent mysterious lady who rode the boat. The people could have safely stood on the bridge and prayed without fear of a great fall. And faith would still be there for God and the revered Virgin.-0-

Grand Penafrancia Fiesta 2008 in Liberty Park, New Jersey

September 21, 2008

As the breeze of the coming fall season filled the air and the bright summer sun brought joy and cheers to a throng of enthusiastic devotees, the feast of Bicolandia’s patroness, Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia (Ina) and the Divino Rostro (Divine Face) was successfully commemorated on Saturday, September 20, 2008. Ending the nine-day prayers in Ina’s honor, the celebration was held in a new venue at the CRRNJ Terminal Building, Liberty State Park, 1 Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ, USA.

Sparked with a colorful fluvial procession and rosary recitation, the event was followed by a solemn concelebrated mass officiated by Bicolano priests headed by Msgr. Jeremias B. Rebanal. With Ina’s message of unity and love, Msgr. Rebanal underscored the continued intercessions of God’s Mother venerated by Bicolanos for centuries.

In keeping with Ina’s celebrations worldwide, the Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA) of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut under the leadership of Virgie Jacobson and in cooperation with the Bicolandia Association of the Eastern Seaboard made sure the event was meaningful and memorable. The festivity was capped with a grand reunion and salo-salo followed by a brief, but exciting cultural program emceed by Fiorel Salvo and Erlinda Requejo-Arellano.

The occasion was highlighted by kurumustahan and pabiristohan—the renewal of friendships and hospitality expressed among kababayans. Notable followers of Ina who helped in making the day a success were Peng Pena, Thelma Silerio, Fe Manibay, Lulu Menor, Genevieve del Rosario, Adela Quisumbing, Amado Cabaero, Chi, Tong and JL Pilar, Nancy Candenilla, Tessie Maghacut, Tita Esquivel, Annie B. Santos, Roselyn Sapalico, Vic Idava, Lydia Mendez, Jun Torrente, Josefina Surban, Laida Centeno, Nelly Asis, Gloria Salen, Claire Pormento, Melodina Cabaero, Dolly Zagada, Chito & Cora Velasco, Efred Zagada, Norma Rivera, Edmund Arellano, Tony Rojano, Nicol Miraflores, Myrla Rueda, Francia Banzuela, Lily Cantuba, Rudy Alcantara, Zeny Prado, Moises & Linda Sia, Carmen Oliver, Rebecca Dorosan, Victoria Datar, Boy Pangan, Bert Celera, Dina Briones, Jojo Borja, Clemenia Rueda-Cayetano, Ely Mabeza, Lourdes Rada-Madrid, Diety Avila, Lita Ferrer, Celeste Reside, Sylvia Kurt, Josie & Allen Nidea, Aida Ragragio, Raquel Ragragio, Aida Santiago, Lillian Villafuerte, Ato & Susie Enojado, Bodjie Amador, Rene & Lily Villegas, among many others.

A brief historical profile of OLPDA was prepared by Ben A. Silerio who recalled the organization was started in 1990 by Lulu M. Menor and Lita L. Pena. Since then, leaders who keep the group strong include Erlinda R. Arellano, Marfo T. Manibay, Ben A. Silerio, Liliana F. Lacap, Gidget C. Revilleza, Josephine A. Mendoza, and Virgie C. Jacobson. =0=




The loss and return of the Virgin of Penafrancia & the Colgante Bridge tragedy

September 19, 2008


Part I: The Loss and Return of Our Lady of Penafrancia
by Totie Mesia and Mariso Ocampo
Posted by mesiamd at 9/19/2008

Bicolanos like the rest of the Filipinos are supposed to be happy people. We shun gloom, when it relates to the Penafrancia celebration. A diet of ginota’an na gulay, chili, and doses of wicked weather make our fiestas more fun. For each favor we ask the Virgin, we have a positive answer to hope for.

It was in 1981, nine years after the Colgante Bridge collapse that Ina’s image vanished. Carted away by burglars to the distress of the people, Ina’s icon became an object of a nationwide hunt. Prayers were said by the entire nation for the return of the old ebony image which could fetch a good sum as Imelda Marcos’ jewels from antique dealers like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Reports of malevolent portents and explicable signs occupied us, superstitious Bicolanos. But it wasn’t until unrelenting torrential rains flooded Manila that the image reappeared.

“What’s important is she’s back,” we were told. Although it was a crime to snatch the Virgin’s image, few seemed to know who took it. Punishing the robber(s) wasn’t a priority as some rumors flew that Imelda Marcos was involved.

The sight of bare-footed devotees piously walking the image back to her church brought home the popular message of “forgive and forget” which remained a core value of many us. Forgiving and putting aside foul memories of the theft were easy justifications of not doing anything to prosecute a crime. It stood on the way of bringing justice and closure to those who had been wronged.

“My son died looking for Ina,“ said Salvacion C. Neola of Naga City a few years before she passed away. Like everyone else, Neola, a widow and fervent Penafrancia devotee didn’t insist who was behind Ina’s disappearance> Her son Reynaldo, a Naga City policeman, met his death; his companions were seriously wounded searching for the icon. With little clarity to what really happened, we seemed to have lost a footnote of history and a chance to punish the crime.

Today, the Colgante tragedy where scores died while watching the Penafrancia river procession is an old tale just like the enigma of Ina’s disappearance. We recall the frenzy stirred by the bridge crashing down the river, the victims trapped in the pile of fractured timber resting on severed body parts in the water. More than a hundred drowned deep in the dark riverbed, making recovery and recognition difficult.

As told by Rufo Tuy Jr, the popular DZRB radio announcer, some met their demise when the bridge’s live electrical wirings snapped. As lights went dead, hysterical moms who heard of the tragedy acted like agitated hens, panicked by the immensity of the tragedy. Displayed in a local radio station for relatives to identify, piles of bodies of those who drowned and were crushed by the rushing crowd in stampede scared them. (to be continued…Part II: The Colgante Bridge Tragedy of 1972...) =0=

Penafrancia Fiesta 2008 in Charleston, South Carolina

September 17, 2008

The Bicol Association of Charleston Penafrancia celebration starts with 9 days of novena observed every Saturday from July 19 to September 13, 2008. The prayers are said at the Immaculate Conception Church, Charleston, South Carolina.

Highlighting the novena is a community dinner, get-together, singing and dancing. Honoring the Virgin of Penafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol, everyone is invited to the todo-todo cha-cha,boogie dances are performed by adults, children and guests, mostly with roots from Bicol, Philippines.

Schedule of Festivities:

September 19, 2008 (Friday), the Bicol Association of Charleston prepares the venue of the fiesta at the Navy Recreation Center at Monch Corner, SC.

September 20, 2008 (Saturday):
8:30-9:30 AM Holy mass at the Immaculate Conception Church, Goose Creek SC with Fr. Liam Panganiban
10;00-11;00 AM
Our Lady of Penafrancia is transported to Short Stay, Monch Corner, SC
11:00 – 2:00 PM
Grand Luncheon in the Convention Center for more than 500 devotees
2:15- 3:00 PM
Recitation of the Rosary and Fluvial Procession
3:00-4:00 PM
Eucharistic Mass Celebration with Msgr. Simon Peter Ignacio, Retired Commander US Navy Chaplain (Virac, Catanduanes); Fr. Noel Tria Parochial Vicar of the Blessed Sacrament Church, Charleston, SC (Naga City); Fr Tria of Savannah, Georgia; and The Bicol Choir
4:00-6:00 PM
Cultural Program featuring special presentations and surprise numbers; Maharlika Dance Troupe from Fayetteville, North Carolina and the Bicol Dancing Lolas
6–10;00 PM
Dinner at the Convention Center followed by social hour .

September 21, 2008 (Sunday)
11:00-12:30 PM Thanksgiving Holy Mass followed by concluding Lunch Fiesta.

Officers of the Bicol Association of Charleston, South Carolina
Steering Committee Chairman President: Joceline Losa-Masauding
Liturgical Coordinators: Sally de los Reyes-Ani, Cindy Mesia-Dacanay and Faye Espano
Program and Entertainment; Jerome Bien and Nancy Samson
Food & Mess Line: Sam Coquia, Loy Espano, Joe Dacanay, Bert Salvatierra, Art Artuz, and Manny Ani=0=

Ugly incidents spoil start of Penafrancia Fiesta 2008

September 15, 2008


A rumble among a group of teenagers during the traslacion, a rock-throwing incident, a devotee suffering a heart attack, and a deranged man firing gunshots, later arrested, as he took school children hostage in a chartered bus from La Consolacion Academy prompted Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi to seek more security measures as the fiesta starts. (www.cbcpnews.com)

As part of the crowd control being readied, Church authorities, veering away from tradition to keep peace and order, are considering to disallow the people from carrying the image of the Virgin of Penafrancia. The ugly incidents may be interpreted as signs of modern influences in the traditionally faith-based celebration affected by present-day commercialism and secularism. =0=