LOOKBACK: How the Bocaue River Festival Came Back Around From Tragedy
Gari Sy Rivera | July 01, 2020
The Bocaue Pagoda Festival or Bocaue River Festival in Bulacan is truly one of the most interesting ones to find. Annually held on the first Sunday of July, the festival celebrates the symbolism of the Holy Cross through the Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa figure, which was said to be found floating in the Bocaue River on 1850 during Spanish Colonization.
In 1993, the festival experienced the unfortunate event of overloading and capsizing of the pagoda, resulting in more than two hundred dedicated devotees drowning in the river. Learning from the previous tragedy, the Festival returned in 2014, revived to honor both the Holy Cross and the lives lost in 1993.
Bocaue Pagoda Festival 2014 | Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News
Bocaue Pagoda Festival 2019 | Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News
[related: Bocaue: Fireworks Capital, Fluvial Child]
Since then, the Bocaue Pagoda Festival continues to take measures that ensure safety and proficiency in the spirit of the celebration. There has been no overloading of devotees on the shrine’s pagoda, just colorful cheer, devotion to the Holy Cross, and remembrance to the 1993 devotees as the fluvial parade of the Pagoda’s shrine and accompanying boats of locals takes its rounds on the Bocaue River.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic may hit a pause on the 2020 festival to implement proper quarantine and social distancing measures, anticipation for the next celebration is present. Like the on-water floats, boats, and pagodas, this spirit of the festival and the celebration itself will come right back around in its perfect time.