Tag Archives: Catholic Philippines

#333 Peñafrancia Festival

River procession during the Penafrancia Festival

Tens of thousands of pilgrims, devotees, tourists come to Naga City, Bicol province, Philippines every September for a nine-day festivities in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol, endearingly addressed by Bicolanos as “Ina” (Filipino for ‘mother’).

The festivities begin with the famous Traslacion procession during which the images of the Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are brought by barefooted male voyadores from the Basilica through the main streets of the city to the Cathedral. This procession, which usually lasts for four hours attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country.  A colorful fluvial procession is also one of the highlights, with thousands gathering by the river banks to witness the river crossing.

The devotion started 300 years ago, in 1710, when Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias had an image carved, a chapel built and processions held in honor of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Peñafrancia due to the many favors he received through the help of the Virgin. Since then the devotion has grew and has even reached abroad. Devotees’ accounts of healing and favors received through her intercession helped spread the devotion. 2010 marks the festival’s 300th year.

Long live Philippine Festivals!

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#313 Magsingal Church & Belfry

Magsingal Church Belfry

The Magsingal Church (San Guillermo Church) in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur province, northern Luzon, is among the region’s treasured Baroque Catholic churches. Magsingal Church became a parish 1676. The church itself is dedicated to St. William the Hermit. It is famous for its wooden altar, a very intricately-carved gold and green retablo,  which is still in use. The facade of the church is wonderfully preserved but the belfry is the church’s main attraction. 

Beside the church is a rectory (also built in 1676) which was converted as a branch of the National Museum. The rectory’s strong foundation of bricks, lime and stone withstood disastrous calamities like fire, typhoons and earthquakes. The rectory was also used as a school building during the early American regime. During the Japanese occupation, the museum served as an interment for the residents of Magsingal who were punished for the murder of a Japanese captain. (Source: Various Internet postings)

Long live Baroque Philippine churches!

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#263 Black Nazarene Festival

Mass of Black Nazarene devotees near Quiapo Church, Manila

On January 9 a huge procession would take place every year in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene. In terms of numbers it is by far the single biggest religious festival in the whole Philippines and the epicentre of the celebration is in Quiapo Church in the heart of downtown Manila.

This religious festival is both fun and unnerving to watch since a tremendously huge crowd of people, mostly men, usually show up on bare feet to show their devotion and penitence. For the whole day this mass of people would struggle to pull the carriage inch by inch in a slow procession of the Black Nazarene statue to Quiapo Church. Devotees believe that to touch the statue on this day would heal them of diseases.

Every year, when the Black Nazarene parade occurs, the center of Manila is virtually inaccessible to motor traffic. Hundreds of devotees faint or pass out due to the heat emanating from the pack of pressed bodies surrounding Quiapo Church and the adjacent square.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ brought by Augustinian Recollect friars to the Philippines on May 31, 1606 from Mexico. An Aztec carpenter reportedly carved the statue, which is now enshrined in the minor basilica of Quiapo. Devotees to the Black Nazarene usually flock to church on Fridays to pay their devotions.

Long live Philippine festivals!

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#199 Dinagyang Festival

Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo City Wikipedia photo

The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog in Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan

The Dinagyang is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis, the original settlers in the island. The festival began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

 The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival. (From: Wikipedia)

Long live Pinoy festivals!

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#70 San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church is known as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the Philippines. One of the few churches that survived fires, earthquakes and the World War 2 in Manila, the San Agustin is a landmark in Intramuros, the city’s old Spanish district.

This 17th century Spanish Baroque church has survived a British invasion in 1762, an American attack in 1898 and the Japanese and American liberation war in 1945. The very first San Agustin Church was the first religious structure constructed by the Spaniards on the island of Luzon. Made of bamboo and nipa, the church was completed in 1571, but destroyed by fire in December. Succeeding incidents of fire and earthquakes prompted the Augustinians decided to rebuild the church using stone, andconstruction began in 1586.

The facade is unassuming but it has notable baroque touches, particularly the ornate carvings on its wooden doors. The church courtyard is decorated by several granite sculptures of lions, which had been gifted by Chinese converts to Catholicism. The Cathedral is popular for weddings and the lovely churchyard is often used for wedding receptions.

Much of the church has been restored and a wing now serves as a museum of church artefacts, relics, and religious paintings from all over the Philippines. In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period which were designated by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

 Mabuhay ang San Agustin Church!

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#43 Manila Cathedral

The Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Manila, is one of the city’s iconic Catholic basilicas. The current building is the sixth in the basilica’s 400-year history after having been destroyed by natural disasters, fires , earthquakes and war bomdardment.

The current structure standing was completed in 1958 after American forces carpet-bombed Manila particularly Intramuros, the Sapnish walled city where the Manila Cathedral is located. The first cathedral built by Spanish priests in 1582 was made of nipa and bamboo. It was damaged by a typhoon in 1582 and razed by fire in 1583. Subsequent buildings were made of stone but natural disasters such as the earthquakes of 1645 and 1863, and more recently the bombing of Manila in 1945 reduced the magnificient old cathedral to rubble.

An favorite wedding venue of Manila celebrities and the elite, the Manila Cathedral is also the resting place of the Manila’s archibishops including Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin. The Cathedral was also the venue for the wake and requiem mass for former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, who died on August 1, 2009.  Aquino’s funeral broke protocol when  Aquino’s remains was allowed to lie in state at the Cathedral, making her the first woman to be interred in the basilica.

Mabuhay ang Manila Cathedral!

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