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Peñafrancia Pilgrimage Phenomenon

Just imagine 950,000 for the Traslacion and 1.5 million for the second Traslacion and Fluvial Procession. Yes, they are estimates but the burgeoning population during those times do not lie. Pilgrims, devotees, guests, tourists, and, balikbayans-- whatever category they belong --all came to witness the most gargantuan Marian Pilgrimage in Asia.

Saint Pope John Paul the second was always pleasantly surprised to see the ocean of people whenever he visited the Philippines in his lifetime. Unlike Europe or Northern America the crowd turn-out would always be millions upon millions when he came here that would only be as numerous as the countries he visited in South America.

Like most nations in Latin America, the people who considered themselves belonging to a range below the poverty line in the Philippines are the wide base of the pyramidal society. Europe has lovely Churches and Basilicas but churchgoers are declining in numbers. In Northern America, many Catholic faithful are in turmoil with Religious issues such as Divorce and Abortion.

Religion provides a canopy to believers. There is a sense of leaving it all up to a Supernatural Being or a God. In Catholicism, the penitent regard it as God’s will. We have a Living Savior that would make all our sufferings substantial-- albeit even redemptive suffering. There is a sunshine after a storm. There is triumph after trials and tribulations. Amid all the challenges that life hurls at us, we are safe in Ina’s loving embrace.

Community becomes closer and tighter. Well-knit family, relatives, and friends are all the more jubilant in this special occasion. Connections are rekindled in reunions and gatherings. There is a sharing of blessings most felt in feasts. The meals no matter how simple or grand were considered Soul Food. Gifts from our Great Provider. Divine Providence.

As years go by, the devotion to Our Lady and her Son becomes much more profound. It gains a foothold. It becomes more meaningful. Remember when we were young, we participated in the Religious traditions because we had to or they were obligatory. As schoolchildren we were expected to participate in the processions and to queue in going to the altar to touch the Manto of Ina. However, nowadays as adults we accomplish traditions voluntarily or wholeheartedly.

It is interesting to note that pilgrims go beyond the usual obligations. Many become voyadores and members of organizations that have significance to the September Festival. There are boat rowers that escort the Pagoda. And there are protectors of the Image like members of the Cofradia de San Jose. The participation lasts as long as the legs could walk, as long as the arms could carry, as long as the hands could pray, and as long as the lips could sing, could say, and could shout, “Viva!”

If you think and reflect about it, no woman could really be called Ina without a child or children. There are some Images of Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus. Among them is the Our Lady of Peñafrancia. We remember as schoolchildren we were tasked to draw the Image by hand. We had an easy time executing that artistic undertaking. We only had to draw a pyramid and draw two small ovals as the face of Ina and baby Jesus. Then we drew the crown and the Manto. She is lovely.

Similarly, when we drew the Majestic Mount Mayon there is not much difficulty. Her almost perfect conical peak becomes a well-deserved title as a Daragang Magayon or to say that in English is beautiful maiden. The volcano is a natural phenomenon. Both are in Bicolandia, the Bikol people are blessed indeed.

Ultimately, Our Ina is a Supernatural phenomenon. Why? There are many miracles attributed to her intercession. Healings from cancer, and many other seemingly incurable illnesses had been documented. Ina and El Divino Rostro are the great equalizer. The lowly and the mighty kneel before their Images. In their eyes, we are all equal. In their hearts, we are all their children.

Any topic recommendation or just want to say hello? Send a message to: Email: | And, please do subscribe @jameszcarpio on YouTube. Thank You. May you be inspired by The Holy Spirit and God Bless!


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