Bicolanos celebrate Penafrancia fiesta and 10th founding anniversary

MILAN,Italy– The Bicolanos in Milan celebratedly recently its 2-in1 event;  the Penafrancia fiesta and 10th founding anniversary of Bicol Saro Association.

The double celebration was jam-packed by members of different Filipino communities here.

A fluvial procession at the man-made Naviglio Grande river marked the start of the event.

Fr. Emil Santos, the Filipino chaplain of the Filipino Community of San Lorenzo headed the procession.

The image of the Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia whom the Bicolanos call “Ina” (mother) was loaded at a roofed boat and was paraded at the stretch of the river as early as 8.30 in the morning.

As early as 8:00 o’clock in the morning, devotees flocked at the bank of Naviglio Grande river to ensure place of the 52- seater boat.

Signora Theresa, an Italian devotee of the Virgin Mary said that it was her second time to join the fluvial procession.  She was invited by her Bicolana friend to the occasion.

Although she was the only non-Filipino to have joined the procession, she explained that religion has no boundaries.  It does not matter where one believer came from to worship the blessed Virgin Mary.

She added that she was born in the city of Pompei in Napoli where the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary is found and which become a place for Catholic  pilgrimages.

Devotees prayed the holy rosary during the fluvial procession. 

After the holy rosary, Fr. Emil Santos, the Filipino Chaplain of the Filipino Community of San Lorenzo asked the Bicolanos from Naga City or those who have personal encounter with the deceased former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo to testify on the humble mayor’s kindness.

It was the first time that the Bicol region celebrated  Penafrancia fiesta without Robredo who was a true-blue devotee of “Ina”.

Bicol Saro’s 10th year

At the same time the  Bicolanos were celebrating the feast of Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia,  the Bicol Saro Association also celebrated its 10th year as an organization.

The second part of the double-celebration was formally opened by a Holy Mass celebrated by  Fr. Emil Santos and was attended by hundreds.

The program prepared by the association made the whole afternoon lively and enjoyable.

Folkdances like Pantumina and  remixed folk-modern dances encouraged some attendees to dance to the tune without leaving their place.

Raffle draws of tickets sold at Euro2.50 each were also conducted to make the event both beneficial to those who came and for the organization to raise funds.

Raymundo Carlet, one of the organization’s advisers said, Bicol Saro was already registered to the Milan’s city government as a non-profit organization.

Bicol Saro’s President Romy Mesina pushed the registration so that the organization may enjoy benefits from the city government’s integration programs.

Legitimate members of the group now also receive some benefits like financial assistance in-case a family member of first degree dies, Carlet added.

The advisers, officers and active members of the organization are optimistic that the group will become bigger and stronger.  (by: Zita Baron)