Naga prepares for 2022 Peñafrancia festivities
By Jason B. Neola
Aside from ensuring that Naga City’s alert level 1 status is maintained, the city government is readying preparations that are intended to achieve a successful celebration this year of what is known as Asia’s biggest Marian festival.
Mayor Nelson Legacion has already instructed the heads of the different departments, offices, and units to actively participate in the planning, organizing, and management of various religious and civic activities with the Archdiocese of Caceres and other private and public entities.
The fiesta celebration in September this year,will be the 312th year of devotion to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
He said that although there is no detection yet of Covid-19 BA.4 Omicron sub-variant in the city, the implementation of different health and safety protocols must be continued.
“We have to be more compliant with what the health authorities wanted us to do,” the mayor said as he also told a press briefing on Wednesday, May 25, that the city government is waiting for new guidelines from the Department of Health that will help the city to strategize its actions against Covid-19.
The Peñafrancia festival that draws more than a million devotees, pilgrims, and tourists to the city every year was last celebrated in 2019, three months before the first case of Covid-19 in the Philippines was discovered in December 2019 or six months before the entire island of Luzon was declared under lockdown in March 2020.
In case the city’s alert level 1 status remains until September, Legacion said that it will be safe and tolerable for everyone, vaccinated or not, to witness or participate in the regional military parade, the civic parade, voyadores festival, the traslacion and fluvial processions, and many other events during the fiesta. “But not when the city is on a higher alert level,” he added.
Councilor Sonny Rañola said that the executive committee of the Miss Bicolandia Beauty Pageant, which he chairs in previous years, can be convened anytime once the city mayor has directed him to pursue the conduct of the most prestigious pageant in the Bicol region.
The city mayor hopes that Naga’s current alert level status will remain as it will be good to the local economy much more if the city will achieve the normalcy it has been working on with DOH.
Mario Villanueva, president of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that “the Peñafrancia holiday, which is the center of tourism in Bicol, brings in around 1 million to 1.7 million visitors to Naga City, a big help for the local business industry to further stimulate the local economy.”