The massive three tier colorful structure built atop three boats started its engine and slowly, it sailed around the Bocaue River as the townspeople looked on, cheered and paid their devotion to the Mahal na Poon sa Krus sa Wawa. After 21 years since a tragedy happened in 1993, the Pagoda sa Bocaue sailed again.
July 6 found me in Bocaue, leaving Makati before the break of dawn and meeting with a Facebook friend, Bryan, who invited me. I’ve long heard about the Pagoda, back when I was still in college and have always been curious about this religious festivity.
The early morning light cast wonderfully on the facade of the Bocaue Church, aging so well for more than a hundred years with its main plaza filled with people, costumed dancers and devotees waiting for the procession. It was also hot and humid as streams of sweat wet my shirt. We walked to an area of a narrow street to wait for the procession to pass.
The heat was unbearable. Yet, when the costumed dancers sashayed their way, we lost no time in pointing our cameras. There we’re students in traditional Muslim attire, sagalas in long dresses and well composed hair garbed in Spanish era Philippine elite wear. And just as I’ve lost count of the several contingents that past our way, I caught a glimpse of the Mahal na Poon sa Krus sa Wawa, atop its processional carroza.
It was in the 19th century, during a typhoon that this big wooden cross was washed ashore in the town of Bocaue. Said to be the cross from an earlier church, the townspeople took and venerated it ever since. It has been an annual fluvial procession until 1993 happened and 300 perished when the pagoda sunk, overloaded with devotees.
The Mahal na Poon sa Krus ng Wawa made its way from the church to the banks of the Bocaue River where it was enthroned atop the Pagoda. Slowly, it sailed with several motorized boats following it. For the next few hours till night, the Krus will go around the river, taken to the streets and processioned followed by the devotees drenching wet in festival mood.