If Marketing has its 4Ps (or is it 5 now?), Bicolanos have their 4Ps as well. The 4Ps of the Bicolanos stand for PNR Trains, Pili Nut, Penafrancia and Pinangat. I have my blog statistics to prove that these were the four key words that generated a lot of traffic. For this article, I will be writing on our Lady of Penafrancia or Ina, the patroness of the Bicol region.
September is a special month for Bicolanos as Ina’s feast day falls on the third Sunday of September which also coincides with the fiesta of Naga City. The festivities commence on the second Friday of September with the image of the virgin and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are transferred, hence the term Traslacion, from the Penafrancia Basilica to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral by barefoot male voyadores or devotees. While at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, the faithful start the Novenario, a nine-day novena prayer in honor of Our Lady of Penafrancia. The celebration is capped with a fluvial procession at the Naga River on the ninth day of the novena bringing back the image to the Basilica for the Pontifical Mass. While only men can participate in the Traslacion and fluvial procession, women devotees on the other hand have their own procession around the Basilica.
Why is the Virgin of Penafrancia very much venerated by the Bicolanos? From Penafrancia.net, the virgin was so miraculous and have cured a lot of people since the time the image was made in 1710. A Spanish priest, Miguel de Cobarrubias, had the image sculpted using santol wood. Fr. Miguel was himself a sickly child and he attributed his healing from the Penafrancia. News of the miracles reached many places and people began trooping to pray and ask intercession for a cure.