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Groups pray for victims of 1972 Colgante Bridge tragedy

By Myrna Bermudo

Gone but not forgotten.

On the first Friday of September, for more than two decades now, various charismatic groups from Bicol gather and walk in a hushed procession from the Basilica Minore towards the Colgante bridge to pray for those who perished in the Colgante bridge tragedy in 1972 on the 16th of September.

Called “perdon” procession, members of the charismatic groups walk, some barefooted, along the streets of Naga, bringing the images of Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Peñafrancia. On 2 September, first Friday of the month this year, they stopped by the Colgante bridge at 12:00 midnight to pray for the poor souls of those who perished in the tragedy. Fr. Misael E. Quindo, parish priest of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish, led the requiem prayer.

Boats connected to each other by a rope, pull the “pagoda” at the Bula river during the fluvial procession to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in the Parish of Our Lady of Magdalene in Bula, Camarines Sur, imitating the yearly fluvial procession in Naga river. Voyadores, rowed their boats together with members of their family men and women, boys and girls. Pre- pandemic and during the pandemic, when big gatherings were not allowed, parishes in the Archdiocese of Caceres were encouraged to celebrate their Peñafrancia fiesta in their locality. Thus, there is “Pagsungko ni Ina”, “Traslacion” procession and “pagsakay” or fluvial procession for parishes in the coastal areas. (MSB) photo credits: john francis bustamante uvero

Every year, these prayer groups remember the tragedy which claimed the lives of 138 devotees after the bridge collapsed. It happened during the Fluvial procession where the images of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Peñafrancia were being brought back to the Peñafrancia Shrine through the Naga River.

This year is the 23rd “Alay ki Ina” gathering. It was held last September 2 at the Basilica Minore. It is a yearly gathering of Bicol Regional Charismatic groups at the Peñafrancia Basilica for an overnight vigil.

“Alay ki Ina,” a yearly religious tradition that has been kept for more than two decades, aims to pray for a safe and peaceful Peñafrancia Fiesta celebration, safety of the pilgrims and most especially, to pray for the souls of those who perished during the 1972 tragedy.

The vigil, which occurs on the first Friday of September, always begins with a concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration.

Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, presided the Mass to commence the vigil. In his homily, he challenged the members of various charismatic groups to develop a divine intimacy with God just like the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“God resides in our hearts. In our “Alay ki Ina” let us offer our heart, a heart open enough to receive the love of God. Divine intimacy is closeness with God. Mary is the model of intimacy. Once we are intimate with God, let us offer our hands in reaching out towards the poor and those in need,” said Bishop Tirona.

Fr. Darius Romualdo, the Director of the OREMOS, Office of Religious Movements and Organization in Caceres, acknowledged the presence and thanked and representatives of various charismatic groups from the different parts of Bicol.

Neo Catechumenate, Familia, OLPHM, Sacred Heart Charismatic, Adonai’s Love, Verbum Vitae, Crusaders of the Holy Face of Jesus , CRC, LFCC and Brothers for Christ are just some of those who participated in the vigil called “Alay ki Ina.”

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