"Viva La Virgen"
Alexander Andalajao
Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City


THE USUAL: Most of the year, I see the image of Our Lady of La Naval inside her enclosure at the left side of the altar of the Sto. Domingo Church when I am facing said altar. I believe the glass container is used to preserve and protect her and all the jewels that make her and her son more beautiful. There's a pair of stairs that leads up to the back of the containment where I can get near her to kneel and whisper a prayer.

THE SPECIAL: As her feast day approaches, her image was taken out and replaced by a cloth-like banner. An elevated structure was being constructed in the center of the altar which was to house her. The rosary was recited everyday at 5:30pm before the 6pm mass.

ENTHRONEMENT: It was a weekday afternoon. A small procession was coming from the hall on the left side of the church. Shouts of rejoicing bursted when the image became visible to the people attending the event. Cameras clicked away specially when she was traversing the center aisle. Amid the flashes, I saw a hand touch the cloth of the Virgin. Such a sensible faithful to recognize the rarity of the opportunity.

BESO MANTO: It was scheduled at 7pm on both Oct. 7 and 8, but I didn't know what it was. I was able to make it at the latter date, a Friday. It started at 8pm after the mass. It was like a meet-and-greet the Virgin, which was elevatored down the structure. Two lines were formed at the center aisle. The number of those advancing to the altar was policed by some seminarians. I was at the back of the line, at least at that time, because I took some pictures. Two pews, with a seminarian each, were at the end. I gave my rosary to one, who placed it inside a white cloth, rubbed it against the Virgin's white garment, and then placed it beside me. I had kneeled at one pew, kissed a medallion and was praying. (Others were handing the seminarians handkerchiefs or small towels.) I kissed again the medallion, took my rosary and got up. Exiting down the altar, I was given by some seminarians a "La Naval" brochure, a "How to pray the Rosary" brochure and a multi-colored rosary. As I passed the halls, I saw the images of the saints in their carriages. There were more than 20 saints, 2 vacant carriages, and only Padre Pio's carriage had flowers at that time.  I took their pictures, amazed at their faces, clothings and colors. While leaving thru the main doors, I noticed that there was still a pair of lines towards the Mother.

FEAST DAY: It had been raining the previous days, hard specially during the afternoons. But this day, Oct. 10, the weather was just perfect. (Last night, I saw some religous promoting the event in channel 4.) One by one, the saints were introduced with a brief biography and taken out of the church. The grand procession started at Sto. Domingo Avenue, passed thru 2 predominantly residential streets before turning towards Quezon Avenue. A police mobile car guided it. At the front were a few seminarians, with the lead carrying a cross, followed by the Knights of Columbus with 2 boys carrying their banner, and then, the carriage of the first saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz. There was a band in white uniform, contingents from Letran, UST and other schools, priests, nuns and the devotees and faithful numbering a few thousand, holding a candle, praying the rosary, carrying their baby, rolling their wheelchair. The images of the saints were paraded outside the church. The Virgin was brought inside and elevatored to her platform. A prayer was led by a child actor studying at Angelicum College and a mass followed.

(*I am not sure if they were seminarians or were already priests.)

This photo was taken at the instant the Virgin was at the top of the structure after its elevator/platform reached its summit. The kids/schoolchildren went up the top of the backrest to witness it unobstructed. This shows the personal dedication and collective devotion of us Filipinos, no matter what age, to our saints and school patrons, but most specially to the Blessed Mother, Nuetra SeƱora del Santisimo Rosario.

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