Nuestra Señora de Salvacion celebrates 100th year as parish

ANOTHER BICOLANO DEVOTION. Voyadores carry the image of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion during the maritime procession off the waters of Tiwi, Albay where tens of thousands of devotees flock to pay homage to the miraculous Virgin.(Rhaydz b. Barcia)

TIWI, ALBAY---The 100th year commemoration of Our Lady of Salvacion Parish in Barangay Joroan in this town reminisces the past even as it celebrates a strong devotion of faith, love and unity among the Bicolanos from all walks of life, Bishop Joel C. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said.

“Look back at the past and give thanks. We’re revisiting the story how it developed into parish. Numerous stories were told about the image of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion focusing on strong devotion not only of the Bicolanos but also of Filipinos elsewhere to the miraculous mother,” the prelate said in his homily.

The Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Salvación, also known as Our Lady of Light, was built within a 16-hectare lot in the uphill village of Joroan -- a place in Albay popularly known for the miraculous image, a patroness of the Diocese of Legazpi.

The devotion to Our Lady of Salvation is said to be equally popular to Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City because of the numerous reported miracles and witnessed through her powerful intercession.

Looking back, the image of Ina was stolen in October 1992, or 27 years ago from Joroan Shrine after the typhoon, Fr. Lyndon F. Balubar who is presently assigned at the parish, said.

According to Fr. Balubar, Bishop Jose Sorra, the 4th Bishop of the Doicese of Legazpi, took his post sans the heavenly patroness of the Diocese of Legazpi.

But, to everyone’s surprise, the blessed icon was returned on September 8, 1993, which was the birthday of the Blessed Virgin.

“The thief got sick. So he just returned the image to then parish priest of Our Lady of Edsa Shrine, Msgr. Socrates Villages, who is now the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan,” Balubar narrated. As the monsignor received the icon, he immediately contacted Reverend Nestor Carino, a Bicolano who was then the secretary general of CBCP, knowing that the latter was well aware of the missing 243-year old image, Balubar said.

“Indeed, it was Bishop Carino who identified that the returned image was that of the stolen image of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion,” the priest said.

Two feast days

The devotees of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion de Joroan celebrates two feasts days; the Parochial Fiesta every July 2 and the Diocesan Fiesta every third Saturday of August. Every year, during the month of August until September tens of thousands of pilgrims flock to the Joroan Shrine to pay homage to Ina.

Last weekend, Nuestra Señora de Salvacion once again reunited with the two other images San Antonio de Padua in Buhi town and Nuestra Señora de Soledad of Barangay Tambo, also in Buhi.

As the story has it, the three images were carved out from the same kalpe (citrus) tree. They were first reunited in 2016 during the 240th devotion of our Lady of Salvacion and on Saturday during the centennial celebration of Joroan parish.

It was a festive day for the pilgrims, specifically for the people of Joroan who fondly tag the tree images as siblings as they were carved out from the same tree.

Together, they were borne in a motorcade and a maritime procession from Tiwi town to Barangays Sogod and Mayong, then back to Joroan shrine.

The story of the statue of Our Lady of Salvation and the Marian devotion began in 1770, when a certain haciendero -- Don Silverio Arcilla – directed a tenant named Mariano Dacuba in one of his vast estates in Joroan then known as Cagnipa to chop off a giant citrus tree.

Mariano was surprised to notice that after several hours that the kalpe log was chopped off, its leaves did not wither but remained fresh as if the cut-off torso of the tree was still alive.

When he informed his landlord Don Arcilla about it, and the latter consulted with the friar of Buhi town about Mariano’s discovery.

The friar immediately called a sculptor named Bagacumba and asked him to carve a holy image out of the chopped off log.

Due to its large size, the sculptor was able to carve three images, which are now the ”Nuestra Señora de Salvacion based in Joroan; San Antonio de Padua in nearby Buhi town in Camarines Sur; and the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad based in Barangay Tambo, also in Buhi town.

BICOL PRELATES. Legazpi Bishop Joel Z. Baylon leads the 100th year celebration of Joroan Shrine in Tiwi Albay, home of the 243 years old miraculous image of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion. With him are bishops emeritus Jose Sorra and Lucilo Quiambao and other Bicol priests. RHAYDZ B. BARCIA