“I love you when you bow in your mosque,
kneel in your temple,
pray in your church.
For you and I are sons of religion,
and it is the spirit.”
~ Khalil Gibran
Around 3PM, I rode the MRT train from Santolan Station all the way to its last stop in Recto, Manila. Strolled my way to Quiapo, then took a jeepney ride to Pier and alighted near the Department of Immigration building. The road was completely blocked to private and public vehicles and only people were allowed to walk through the historic walled city. Few steps further, I found myself standing in front of the restored Ayuntamiento, among the thick volume of crowd, waiting for the 100 carrozas to float by. Although I spent countless evenings of Holy Wednesdays, Good Fridays and dawns of Easter Sundays watching Catholic saint-processions with my family in Marikina City and considering I used to be a part of an all-boys-choir in Marikina Catholic School, who used to sing in First Friday Masses, Living Rosary and other religious activities in school during my growing up years, attending the longest procession devoted to the Blessed Virgin entirely, was something new to me. It was my first time to attend and witness the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila that, correct me if I’m wrong, is an annual event held every first Sunday of December.
01 December 2013, Sunday, Intramuros, Manila. It was drizzling when I arrived within the vicinity of Manila Cathedral but the mild downpour miraculously stopped around 5PM, so timely for the start of the Grand Marian Procession for this year. Armed with my long black umbrella, I took a few shots of the first few carrozas on queue. Most of them came from nearby parishes in Metro Manila, to as far as Northern, Central and Southern Luzon, with few that came from provinces in the South.
La Familia De La Virgen Maria.
I saw groups of people with gadgets that could take photos swarming around one of the carrozas that was literally filled with colorful and attractive flowers; mostly Ecuadorean roses in various hues. Not long after, I joined the bystanders and faithfuls who were in awe at San Jose and his float. It was the grandest I’ve seen!
Roses in various colors & other blooms, mirrors, faux trees & crystals adorned San Jose’s carroza.
Within 4 hours of watching the procession, at times I whispered prayers to the Lord and to His Blessed Mother, whose many images passed me by, I was totally amazed and proud of the Filipino faith. Each Marian icon was accompanied and ushered by parish priest/s, sacristans, some with nuns, marching bands, a few came with Boy scouts, folk dancers and young and old ones who were dressed in their Sunday’s best and traditional Filipino attires, volume of parishioners and Marian devotees from the town or city the image came from.
Every expression of Filipino devotion to the Virgin Mary was unique. Some paraded in solemnity, complete with recitation of the Holy Rosary; some were barefooted, others attended in uniform shirts; while some devotees were amazingly cheerful, vocal and loud in professing their love to the Virgin Mary, with singing, waving of handkerchiefs, dancing, particularly the people from Pakil, Laguna who ushered Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba, people from Candaba, Pampanga who brought Nuestra Senora de la Merced and the people from San Mateo, Rizal who accompanied Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu.
Of all the Marian images I saw, I was moved and grounded as a Filipino when the carroza of Ina Poon Bato from Zambales passed by and I saw it was accompanied by Aetas, our indigenous brothers and sisters.
Image of St. Andrew or locally known as San Andres was brought in from Catanduanes, Bicol.
From Cainta, Rizal, Mahal Na Ina Ng Kaliwanagan or the Our Lady of Light.
Something new to me was the image of Mother Mary as Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China for the Chinese Catholic community. It was my first time to see such gracious image.
As mentioned, one of the images of the Blessed Mother that paraded with numerous devotees and parishioners was the Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal. The energy of the people clapping, singing, waving their flags and hankerchiefs, cheering for the Blessed Mother was beyond inspiring!
*There were 100 carrozas in this Grand Marian Procession and please forgive me if this blog post only features less than half of them, a few without names of Our Lady. I’m so sorry as I tried my best to capture the signages from each carroza, however, I only did as much for 4 hours (5PM-9PM) of standing and taking amateur photos for me to share on this site. I’ll appreciate if readers could identify those Marian images on this post without labels. Also, some of the photos turned out to be blurred that I chose not to post. The other Marian images were :
- Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas,
- Nuestra Senora de la Merced, Candaba, Pampanga,
- Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City,
- Nuestra Senora de Barangay,
- Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario de Malabon,
- Our Lady of Piat,
- La Naval de Manila,
- Our Lady of Orani,
- Nuestra Senora de la Soledad de Nueva Ecija,
- Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Cebu,
- and many more that I failed to list down and capture. Again, my apologies.
For four hours, my focus from challenges of daily living was deviated to something more meaningful; something peaceful. This religious activity truly defined what Filipino Marian devotion is to me.
On December 8, Happy Feast Day of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception!
Please pray for us.