The role of the Bicolano youth in the Marian devotion

by Margret Villa-Real Basmayor

The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the most widespread Marian devotion. Celebrated annually in the month of September during the Peñafrancia festival in Naga City, it is also one of the most popular religious festivals in the Philippines.

The devotion to “Ina,” which is one of the oldest Marian devotions in the Philippines, first came to Naga City in the 18th century through Miguel Robles de Covarrubias. However, even if it has been around for such a long time, the devotion has not faded through the ages. Until today, it is as strong as ever, and is kept that way by Ina’s devotees.

Through time, the devotion to Ina has become a tradition in the Bicolano culture. Bicolanos pray daily for blessings, guidance, and protection through the intercession of Ina. Every Bicolano, including the youth, observe this tradition. In fact, the youth play an important role in the devotion.

The youth comprise a huge fraction of the number of people who participate in the events during the Peñafrancia festival. Young people actively participate in the Traslacion, parades, processions, and other events. They serve as inspirations and motivations to their peers and elders, because they possess a strong faith even if they are young. Many young people also form religious groups, actively participate in the youth ministry of their parishes, serve as lectors or choir members, and organize and participate in religious youth events and conferences, as a way of showing their love for Ina.

One of the youth events which centers on the devotion for Ina is the Marian Youth Congress (MYC), which is an event held in Naga City during the Peñafrancia festival. Thousands of young devotees
flock from all over Bicol to participate in this annual event. The MYC is an overnight event filled
with music, dancing, and interactive activities for the youth, which is aimed to strengthen bonds between Marian devotees, and at the same time, their devotion to Ina.

This year, the MYC was held in the Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum last September 12-13 from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. Activities included talks, a mass, film viewing, dancing with animators, and a concert, where several bands played religious music.

Truly, age cannot be considered a hindrance in spreading the devotion. Through the creativity of the youth combined with the strength of their faith, the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia has become
not only a religious custom, but also a colorful tradition that shows the culture of the Bicolano people. Through the efforts of the youth and their consistency in spreading the devotion, surely, it will go on for years to come.
Margret is a first year BSIT student at Ateneo de Naga University.