Special holiday in Naga
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Based on a presidential proclamation of former President Benigno Aquino III issued on 2013, Naga Mayor John Bongat declared Sept. 15, Friday, a special non-working holiday in this city. Bongat cited Presidential Proclamation No. 654, series of 2013, that declares every Friday immediately preceding the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia as a special non-working holiday in the City of Naga. “Considering that the Feast of Our Lady falls this year on Sept. 17, Sunday, the public is advised that September 15, the Friday immediately preceding the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, is the special (non-working) day in the City of Naga being referred to under (Presidential Proclamation No. 654),” the mayor declared in an advisory issued on Sept. 12. The civic-military will be conducted on Friday, the last non-religious activity before the culmination of the religious fiesta in a fluvial procession at the Naga River on Saturday, Sept. 16. According to Allen Reondanga, head of the City Events, Protocol and Public Information Office, there are 697 competing groups in the military parade competition. Compared to last year’s number of participant units of 646, this year sees an increase of 51 groups more competing in the much-anticipated military parade. Reondanga said the military parade competition will last until late in the afternoon from 7 a.m. given the number of participants. For the military units in high school level, he said there 308 participating units; military units in college level, 14;; majorettes in high school and college levels, 142; drum and bugle corps/drum and lyre corps in high school and college levels, 130; and high school and college bands, 14 contingents. Reondanga said joining the “exhibition style” for majorettes comprised 38 groups; drum and bugle corps/drum and lyre corps, 29; band, 9; and CAT fancy drill, 13. The Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia has been given formal recognition by the national government during the time of President Ninoy Aquino with the declaration of Naga City and Camarines Sur as “Pilgrimage Capital of Bicol.” Aquino issued Executive Order No. 33 in 2010 that officially declared the Feast of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia as the “only regional feast in the country” at the time when the devotion was celebrating its 300 years of devotion. Executive Order No. 33 draws from Section 15, Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution the declaration that the “State shall conserve, promote, and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage.” “Beginning every September of every year until mid-October, the City of Naga and the Province of Camarines Sur welcome millions of pilgrims from different parts of the country and the world who participate in the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia,” the executive order added.