Thursday, September 20, 2007

Naga Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia Fluvial Parade - MDP Travelogue

The Human Walrus and The Sexy Nomad are back!!! It's been a long while since they last traveled together...

When we did our Bicol Tour, I told myself that never again shall I travel the same road unless we take the plane going to Donsol to go swimming with the butandings. It's just that the roads were so circuitous and Peter really made Rave (our Revo) fly that my heart went out the window and I had instant heart attacks every few kilometers!  But as the cliche goes... "Never say never".

 After 6 long hours on the road, we finally made it to Michelle's house...

And a huge table of breakfast was waiting for us! Yipee!
Last weekend, September 15-16, 2007, Michelle invited our MDP (Management Development program) team to come to their hometown in Naga and witness the devotees' celebration of the Feast of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia as they celebrate its 297th year. Despite the rainy weather and the fact that we still haven't submitted our final thesis for MDP, we decided to go (Jason, Belen, Michelle and her cousin Gener, myself and sore eyed Peter). Reji didn't go with us for fear that he might not have enough time to finish his paper (nerd!). Peter had reservations since we'd be stuck inside the Hi-Ace for a couple of hours and we might get sore eyes too. But Michelle didn't want to hear any of it. She's such a Momma and she wants all her kids to go! Period. And so we did (This is also the reason why we missed seeing Avenue Q, that day, huhuhu. We hope to get tickets for another Saturday though.), with Peter donning his shades the whole time. Oh,  all expenses are already paid by the way. Thanks to Momma Mich.
A little videoke time before heading to the procession by the river...
 The extrovert in Peter took over...He easily made friends with Michelle's relatives despite his sore eyes... 
As I was saying, despite the bad weather,  hundreds, or maybe even thousands of devotees flocked to the religious image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia during the annual procession from the Peñafrancia Basilica to the Naga Cathedral in Naga City on Sept. 15, 2007, signaling the start of nine days of prayers. This is not your usual Quiapo type of procession where people risk their lives being squashed amidst the multitude of devotees... they risk their lives getting drowned along the river where a lot of bangkas filled with people, line up , one after another , pulling each other forward until  they get to deliver the so-called rebulto in its proper destination and in one piece.   The massive procession which dates back to 1885 is a way of thanksgiving for what the devotees believed to be the miraculous power of Our Lady of Peñafrancia which traces its roots to the town of Peñafrancia in Spain.
We hung out in Dak's (Michelle's friend from Ateneo batch 2000) ancestral house as we were waiting for the fluvial parade which can be seen from their backyard...
I want me some of these native ornaments too!
More food was served as we wait for the procession...

  Footage of the actual fluvial parade

This is the view from Dak's backyard. Nice huh?

Speaking of miracles, Michelle's elder sister told us a story quite the contrary. Years ago, a day before Martial Law was declared during the time of Ferdinand Marcos, the old bridge where the procession was held, collapsed, as well as its cable wires, drowning and electrocuting a thousand devotees. They believed that  it could have been a foreshadowing of what was about to come. True enough, the very next day, Martial  Law was declared and our country was never the same again. Freaky huh? I wonder if that happened on a Friday the 13th? Hehehe.

L-R: Jason, Belen, Me, Michelle, Daks
Moreover, a couple of years back, as they were celebrating this annual festival, the statue of Our Lady of Peñafrancia got stripped off of its clothes due to the rowdy crowd of devotees gathered around it. It took several priests, each taking his turn, to cover the image of the Lady until they reached Naga Cathedral. Two months afterwards, the very same spot of the procession got flooded and a lot of people died, lost their livestock and source of living. They believed that this was the Lady's way of punishing them for such a failed feast. Whatever it was, Our Lady of Peñafrancia does have its mysterious quirks. We're just happy to have arrived home safely and in one piece considering that our driver for that trip drove pretty fast.



Anyway, after the procession, we all headed to Naga Cathedral on foot since it was so traffic and it was so difficult to hail a tricycle. The walk took around 5-10 minutes I think, after which, we still managed to take pictures of the majestic church as my group mates heard mass (Peter and I are agnostic that way). Then after an hour, we all headed to our inn, took a shower and changed clothes before heading back to Michelle's house  for dinner. Everyone feasted on stuffed crabs. I told them to take it easy but they were so stubborn. So you know what happened next? Peter had indigestion, Jason's cholesterol rose, Belen couldn't breathe due to her allergic reaction to crabs so I made her eat tons of chocolates, and Michelle was...actually, she was pretty ok. Hehehe. We were supposed to watch old Murphy Brown DVDs all evening. But after we had a few rounds of beer and and wine, we called it a night.

The next day, everyone woke up early to prepare for our trip to Isarog Hot and Cold Springs. Michelle's family went with us this time and we had a blast! Aside from the terrific picnic lunch they served, the sights were just so amazing! Going to the tourist spot, we passed by a lush forest along this road that went winding downwards.  And in no time at all, we were there! The first thing I noticed was this:

But of course I didn't try drinking it. Hehehe. Who knows if it's really safe?  Going to the hot springs was no feat. There were signs everywhere so visitors wouldn't get lost. 

We stayed in one of the cottages that was for rent for only P200. We deposited our stuff  there and off we went exploring the rest of the place...

Need I say more? On our way back to the inn, we bought some pasalubong like shirts and delicacies. We got back to Manila around 2 am, just enough to nap then go to work early Monday morning. I miss this kind of life. So I scheduled our upcoming trips already. Watch out for more of the Sexy Nomad and the Human Walrus these coming months. Now that MDP is over (and I hope my work wouldn't be too demanding afterwards), I am free to travel again!!! Weee!

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