Thursday, October 16, 2014

LA NAVAL 2014: A Vow Made and Fulfilled

Besamanto, Oct. 10, 2014
There are lots of reasons why I should say that my fifth La Naval is more exciting and memorable than the past four. I always mentioned in the former posts that each La Naval, though containing the same program, and focused on the same Virgin of the Holy Rosary, has a distinct character which makes it unique every year.

This year, despite the heavy rains during the novena days, crowds still poured in during the Festivities, showing their resiliency when it comes to their love for the Blessed Mother. Rain or shine, the devotees continued to visit Our Lady in her Shrine at Quezon City, to bring up to her their prayers and needs, and to thank her for answered intentions.

The vow of our forefathers was once again fulfilled in this year's festivities, and nothing stopped the Filipino in showing their devotion to her, not even the rain which poured out during the festivities.

Personally, this year was a lot more challenging for me. Though I already experienced last year the long travel from Malabon to QC and back, my ongoing battle with TB made it hard for me to go on. There was even a chance that I almost had a physical breakdown. But despite all these, I'm confident that Our Lady helped me move on and continue this little sacrifice.

True enough, Our Lady is true to her word.


The Queen's Enthronement, Oct. 02, 2014
With the Brothers singing Salve Regina, the image of Our Lady was brought from the Camarin to her Main Altar. This, while thunders were ringing in the skies. It was like, the whole of heaven was joining us in praising God through Mary.

At this point, I raised some intentions to Mary, which I entrusted to her care. In the past, I entrusted many things to her which she answered fruitfully; I know these intentions I have at hand would certainly be answered, even if I'm unworthy to be answered at all.

I literally went into a 'kasunduan' with Nanay, of which I asked for a sign that my prayers will be granted. I believe that she will grant my prayers, as I promised that I will fulfill my yearly duty of coming to her Novena and Feast celebrations.


Photo by Iah Rafael
As the devotees continue to visit her during the Novena Days, different lay groups were invited to lead them in praying the Novena to Our Lady. This included Mukha Ad, which gave me and my friends a chance to lead on the Fifth Day of the Novena (Oct. 07). It was a wonderful experience, though we were altogether scared at first. By Divine Grace, we were able to complete the Holy Rosary, and lead the novena smoothly.

Like last year, I was once again invited to share my simple thoughts in the Radio Coverage of the Festivities which was aired over DZME. It focused on the Role of Mary as Inang Layko, Ina ng Layko. It featured different Dominican Brothers and lay guests.

Aside from Mao and many others,
Eldrick, my spiritual brother, accompanied me
during this year's La Naval.
But what made it so special? For me, it was the grace of meeting and reconciling with people whom I hadn't been in good terms with in the past. Despite the fall I had recently, I was able to stand up again and continue as if nothing happened. This, with Mary by my side. I know She planned everything, and guided me on what to do. Really, I was at home.

I was also able to strengthen up friendships with some people I already know in the past. There's Eldrick, who became my 'spiritual brother' during the Festivities. There was Mao who became my buddy during the Novena days. There was Ate Myrna who was among my kind buddies, not only during the Novena days but also every time I'm at Santo Domingo, and there was Ms. Sim, my CL Coordinator who saw her first visit to Santo Domingo as an answer to whatever she's asking for.

I also remember the old lady which sat with us during the Novena days. For how many years, she was delighted with our little voices in honor of Our Lady. She recounted to us her young experiences as devotee of the Santo Rosario, from the Intramuros days, to her transfer to UST, and now at her present Shrine in QC. I personally considered her as a treasure of the devotion, and I always remember her in my prayers.


Photo by Eldrick Nolasco
Drawing close to her during the Besamanto nights, I captured each moment, praying the Rosary and having an intimate conversation with my Mother. The tears flowed from my eyes, as well as those who come to her aid, signified each sigh and need, with the assurance that the Queen of Heaven is listening, and is doing ways to grant each prayer.

I remember what happened on the Last Night of the Besamanto, when I and Eldrick were almost able to enter the Baldachino and touch Our Lady. We can get ahead of all the devotees and have a special chance to touch our Lady. But then, I said "no." I returned to my senses and saw myself unworthy.

That night ended up in tears, because of dismay that I did not grab the chance, but most of all, because of my pride which ate up the real devotee in me. I felt worthless, like I am not that simple devotee anymore. I asked forgiveness from Nanay because of what I did. I prayed for more consideration, that she would be more patient with me.

Little did I know that that was only Nanay's test for me for something greater which will happen in just a few days.


Photo from Manila Bulletin
The rain won't stop Our Lady. That happened during the Procession last October 12. Before the 3:00 PM Mass, the rain fell so immensely that it lasted for two hours. It was near-impossible that the procession would push through, but then everyone knelt down and prayed the Rosary. Praying the traditional fifteen decades, every devotee hoped that the skies would be clear again. Like the miracle of 2011 which I personally witnessed, the whole congregation prayed that history would repeat itself.

And yes, it did. The procession started at 5:00 PM, and Our Lady was ushered into the streets 30 minutes later. It was still drizzling, but we believed that it's more of a blessing on those who braved the rains.

With some of my co-'Guardias de Honor.'
Photo by Bro. Jun Banaag, OP
On my third year as a Guardia de Honor, I was given the chance of maneuvering the Carozza Triunfal along with my Guardia friends. One of the former Guardias decided to give himself a break, so he decided to give his post to me for the time being. It was really hard to do this task, considering my health problems, but then I know that Mary is there to protect me from any harm. Joining me and Mao is Renz, my close friend and collaborator in the AMOC. This actually was my graduation gift for him, which he would always treasure all throughout his life.

Returning to her Shrine, thousands of devotees were waiting, with their handkerchiefs and petals ready to welcome the Queen. With Bro. Jun Banaag leading the crowd, everyone shouted, Mabuhay! with thundering claps louder than the rain a few hours ago. We went on smiling in gratitude, because we had another year fulfilled as Guardias de Honor.

Upon reaching the Shrine, Our Lady went on to fulfill my request - our kasunduan. My friends were already going up towards the Sanctuary and they invited me to join them I hesitated at first, but a certain force led my feet to walk towards the altar and beside Nanay's throne. As she was ushered towards the Baldachino, she went slowly by where I was standing. Thus, I was able to touch and kiss her manto, just before she entered the Baldachino.

With that kiss, I was able to thank her personally for the past five years of love and care she showed for me, and for the many more years to come. I'm still grappling for words which could describe this wonderful experience. I know that Our Lady is in-charge of my present struggle, that She would grant whatever I ask. This I believe in, with a kiss of gratitude.


My companion rosary touched to the hands
of Our Lady of La Naval, Oct. 04, 2014
This is how I see this year's festivities, with everything that transpired in its duration. Mary is true to her word, she would always be faithful even if we are unworthy, or run away from her love. It may take a little sacrifice on our part, but we all know that once we fulfill our love and devotion to Her, she will take care of everything.

Some might have visited La Naval for the sake of its aesthetic value or historical taste, but then for the simple devotee - religious, priest or lay - the purpose of coming is simply to thank Nanay for everything she granted, or to ask for help in any need. The tears shed, would never go in vain; every prayer said would never go unheard.

I may have returned to my usual routine of returning to Santo Domingo on a weekly basis, as before, but I know that wherever I may be, wherever my feet take me, I know that Nanay is by my side, that she would always fulfill her vow, that I have the task of doing my part of our 'kasunduan' - that is, to spread her devotion and love to everyone!


After the Enthronement, October 02, 2014

*** Unless credited, all photos used here are personal property. I allow
public sharing of these photos with proper citation.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I am Glad that I have met you kuya, and also I am thankful that Our Lady and especially the Lord planned this to happen, that you will become part of my Family and especially you will become my GREATEST BROTHER that I will met. Thank you for being a Kind and Great Kuya to me :') always remember kuya that I am always here for you :)))) -Eldrick