By Paulo DS. Papa
NAGA CITY--- P/Supt. Venerando F. Ramirez of the Naga City Police Office (NCPO) explained that military and police personnel have to wear their foot crushing combat shoes during the annual Traslacion procession to prevent wayward and undisciplined ‘voyadores’ from getting near the images of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Penafrancia and maintain order in the kilometer-long foot procession.
“Voyadores,” many of whom are reeking with liquor because it had become a practice among all-male bearers of the two revered images to drink alcohol before joining the procession, are too eager to touch or get nearer the images to ask for blessings or simply thank them for favors received that oftentimes result to a rowdy procession.
History tells us that a chapel of the Virgin of Penafrancia was built along the river bank at the foot of Mt. Isarog (which is now Barangay San Felipe) in a bid to invite the mountain people to come in prayer and be converted into Christianity, which thus started the devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
In no time at all, word spread about the miraculous and gracious lady such that the people in the ‘visita’, the old Spanish version of today’s downtown Naga, then known as Nueva Caceres, earnestly requested that the image be brought to the Naga Cathedral for them to pray and ask for her intercession through a 9-day novena.
To bring the image to the ‘visita’ where the cathedral is located, the priest at the chapel had to ask the barefooted mountain men to bring her image to the cathedral. The devotion to the Divino Rostro came a few years later.
Naga oldtimers frown that marshalling military men in the procession does not sit well with a long held tradition of barefoot men carrying on their shoulders and pulling forward her ‘andas’, or carriage, during the procession. Besides, the presence of uniformed men surrounding the image in the procession seemed to make the religious event a ‘strongly militarized’ occasion.