EDITORIAL | Viva la Virgen!

A jovial mood fills the heart of Bicol every September, not because it is the start of one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world, but because it gathers people in an awe-inspiring and internationally-famous Marian festival in honor of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia.

Simultaneously religious and cultural, the festival is not only a celebration of faith but also of Bikolnon identity.

It only takes a cursory look at the list of activities—ranging beauty pageants to art exhibits to culinary events—to know this is the case.

Arguably, this impossibility to separate faith and culture from each other is because it is part of our belief that we can and should honor our beloved Ina in all and any way we can.

Thus, both the parade and the procession, the pageant and the penitential mass, are, in our view, forms of prayer, both informed our long-held beliefs and our overflowing devotion to the Blessed Mother that permeates all aspects of our lives.

This is perhaps what makes the Peñafrancia fiesta a unique celebration, a definite standout among all the Marian festivals the world over.

This is why pilgrims and tourists come to Naga City to experience this exceptional display.

This is why Bicolanos from other parts of the region and the globe, join in the festivity while in their own localities.

Happy fiesta, Bicolandia! Viva la Virgen!