Grassroots Devotion

Most fiestas in the Philippines has taken on a very commercial tone with pageants, diskoral, perya as standard activities on top of the usual novena, mass service and procession. A classic example is the Sinulog in Cebu City although the pre-parade activities are usually very solemn.

I had the opportunity to join the sakay sakay (fluvial procession) in Naga to honor Mother Mary, it's an old story that i wrote about almost a year ago. nothing changed much, the Lady is taken from her home in Barangay Tuyan and brought to the sea where it boards a boat and sets off to the port of the Poblacion in Naga City where they go on a procession to the main church. 

The reverse happens and they end up in Tuyan parish church where they also hold another procession. For those that are not familiar with the story, the image of the Lady was found on top of a floating plank off the coast of Tuyan where the natives brought it in and enshrined it in a small chapel. At one point, the priest feared for the safety of the antique and decided to send it off to the main church in the Poblacion.

When Tuyan had their own church built and declared as a parish, the main Poblacion church sent it back to its original home in Tuyan where it became a tradition to send the Lady on an annual trip to visit her adopted home in the Poblacion - thus the story of the fluvial procession.

through the years, the festival has gotten popular with more boats joining the fluvial procession. on the down side, the mark of commercialization has started with a diskoral and perya that seeks to capture the market for people who want to gamble, dance and spend a bit. 

the boats are not spared with a number of them carrying teenagers shouting at the top of their lungs the standard cry of "Viva Viva Mahal na Birhen" in between gulps of beer.

Despite this, there is still a very deep devotion to the Lady if you get the chance to witness the procession in Tuyan or in Naga Poblacion. My skin literally crawls and i get goosebumps when i see the sea of faces turned towards the Lady in supplication and prayers for the Lady's intercession and help in petitioning her Son, Jesus Christ for redemption and favors. For a moment, the commercial celebration is forgotten as people remember the real reason for the fiesta.

Viva Mahal na Birhen! Viva Jesus!


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