Naga starts novena for ‘Ina’
NAGA CITY—The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, believed to have started in 1710, continues to draw devotees as the nine-day religious fiesta kicked off with the “traslacion” procession here on Friday.
Mayor John Bongat said the city was expecting more than a million devotees to join the novena and other activities from Sept. 8 to 17.
As a yearly occasion, the Peñafrancia fiesta starts with the traslacion or the transfer of the image of “Ina” from the old Peñafrancia shrine to the Metropolitan Naga Cathedral to accommodate devotees.
It is known to be one of the biggest Marian processions in Asia, traditionally and strictly participated in by male devotees called “voyadores.”
Ernie Tatualla, a third year theology student from Virac town in Catanduanes province and a three-time voyador, said his day started at 3 a.m. for the dawn procession.
He said about 30 seminarians joined this year’s traslacion.
At the end of the novena, the image will be taken to its permanent home at the basilica minore in a colorful fluvial procession along Naga River.
SPO2 Tobias Bongon, city police spokesperson, said the Bicol police office sent 1,300 personnel to ensure peace and order during the religious event.
He said the number of peacekeeping forces here could reach 3,000 after the military sent soldiers for the Peñafrancia feast.
A 10-day gun ban in the city was implemented on Friday while serving and drinking liquor along the procession route was prohibited.
Bongon said the police encouraged participants in the religious activities to avoid bringing backpacks and refrain from wearing hooded garments that would conceal their faces.
Allen Reondanga, chief of the Naga City Events, Protocol and Public Information Office, said some 200 members of communication groups, more than 600 traffic volunteers and 21 ambulances were deployed in the city to assist devotees. —JUAN ESCANDOR JR. AND REY ANTHONY OSTRIA
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