2 M devotees, VP Leni join Peñafrancia’s grand fluvial procession » Manila Bulletin News

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By Ruel Saldico

Patroness of Bicolandia — The pagoda bearing the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia makes its way along the Naga River back to her home, the Minor Basilica of Peñafrancia, on Saturday afternoon. (Czar Dancel)

Naga City, Camarines Sur — No less than two million Catholics traveled near and far to join or witness Bicolandia’s biggest Marian celebration – the Our Lady of Peñafrancia’s fluvial procession – in this city last Saturday.

Waving white handkerchiefs, the devotees to the Lady – endearingly called “Ina” – either set out in boats, boarded the “pagoda” (barge), or lined up on the riverside and bridges shouting “Viva La Virgen!” and “El Divino Rostro!”

The grand fluvial parade started with the exit of the image of the Divino Rostro (Holy Face of Christ), followed by the image of the “Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia,” from the Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral a little past 3 p.m. Saturday.

With no untoward incidents, both revered images were successfully placed onto the pagoda for the fluvial procession that brought Inang Peñafrancia – the Patroness of Bicol – back to her home at the Peñafrancia Minor Basilica via the Naga River.

Choppers of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) that flew overhead dropped confetti throughout the religious activity, much to the pleasure of the faithful led by Archbishop of Caceres Rolando Octavus Joven Tria Tirona.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat lauded all those who took part in maintaining peace and order, security, and ease to the event participants and visitors.

Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo was also present along with her staff to join the pilgrims.

“Mula bata pa ako hanggang ngayon, talaga nandito ako mula sa umpisa hanggang sa huli (Since I was a child, I’d been here for this event from start to end),” Robredo said while watching and waving her white hanky from the riverbank.

Aside from thanksgiving and a prayer for her family, Robredo said she asked Ina to “protect our country amid the challenges that we now face.”

“Much as Ina stands as a unifying force in Bicol, may we as a nation find it in our hearts to focus on our common goals, especially to lift our kababayans from poverty,” she said in her Facebook post.

In her weekly radio program “BISErbisyong Leni” yesterday, Robredo described Ina as “very miraculous” for the sick people. (With a report from Raymund F. Antonio)

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