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Basilica Presents: Luminous Lights

As estimated by this author, the Traslacion turnout was indeed an ocean of people, the local government unit’s organizing committee released the final count reaching close to a million people, almost 950,000. After a very long time, we participated yet again in the procession. It was teeming with people. The throngs of the devotees were at least divided thrice during our walk when the ambulance passed through with emergency patients. The experience was surreal. So very special.

We visited the Bishop Gainza Trade Fair at Robinsons Plaza recently and the products were amazing. The goods done by the people deprived of liberty are creative, artistic, and priceless. And, it is for a good cause, as purchases would support the PDLs. The furniture made of wood, and another local company, made of bamboo sell quality and quaint products. Assorted delicacies, Christmas decorations, handicrafts, jewelry, etc. are also available for clients. As they are only selling for the fiesta it is advisable to ask for business cards.

There are numerous Mall Sales. For one, we visited the Metro Mall just the other day and we were able to buy gears for the fluvial procession at discounted prices. In Robinsons Mall we were able to get a product for half the price. Perhaps, this is the opportune time to buy items for your Christmas gift list. Even partially, because the prices are really marked down.

The Heavy Traffic is expected. Many people just choose to walk instead of taking public transportation. If you reached the Centro or City Center then everything is a fifteen-minute-walk to another destination. If you get tired from strolling then you may also take a rest in Plaza Quince Martires or Plaza Rizal-- both had been declared as part of the Pilgrim Zone. Weather is unpredictable so it is best to bring an umbrella along with you when you accomplish your adventures.

There is an arts and concerts festival at the City Hall grounds. The Cosplay is at the 13th of this month and there are myriad activities that are old and new. There is even a tattoo tent in the area. The Miss Bicolandia winners were chosen and as usual most of the candidates are mixed which is typical of the young women here in the Bicol region. Aside from the Region being the second highest ranker of Spanish Filipinos in the country there are more recent admixtures like Catriona Gray for instance who is a Bicolana of Scottish Descent, a Miss Universe 2018 winner.

Reunions here and there and everywhere. Social Media posts are inundated with old friends, schoolmates, family and relatives, getting together for the fiesta. It is great to reconnect with special people in our life. We reminisce about the good old times, the nostalgic memories, the anecdotes, the bloopers and blunders, the special common bond we have becomes even much stronger. We laugh at the past, our mistakes, and now we can laugh at ourselves. They shaped us to who we are, the learned lessons brought us our successes. And, they are part of our present and moving forward to our future. Life is like that. It is people-centered. We find God in them.

The Sidewalk Market stretches as long as the streets and avenues of the City. They sell items that are the most affordable of them all. In Latin Spanish they are called Tiangue which means booth or stall. Or a small market. It is closely similar to the Latin Spanish of market which is Palenque. The Castilian Spanish of it is mercado which is still used by Bicolanos calling the market as mercado publico. As you go along bargain hunting above you would be the banderitas or buntings. This side of the festivities reminds us that truly the Spanish culture had been imprinted in our religious traditions. It is a fiesta. A party or put simply, a grand celebration.

There are Masses and Novenas and Religious Souvenirs, and moreover, the Porta Mariae Museum is now opened with an entrance fee of 50Php. This is the main objective of the festival, of course, it is a pilgrimage. When the fluvial procession happens this Saturday there is something to look forward to in the main event.

An insider’s tip reveals that the Basilica Minore will be in full radiance in the Mass. The interiors will be all aglow with brand new lights installed. That would be another gift or legacy of Archbishop Tirona. If you meet the great Archbishop in person, you would see his jolly and bright charism. He has a smiling face and a hearty laugh. He is not definitely gloomy but rather he has a sunny personality. He asked the head of the Basilica Minore to brighten up the church because it is “medyo madilim.” Finally, the dark times of the pandemic will be outshone by the faith of the devotees, both literally and figuratively.


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