Tomorrow, October 10, 2021, Angeles City will celebrate the La Naval Fiesta in commemoration of the Virgin of the Holy Rosary. Known as “Fiestang Kuliat,” it was celebrated for nearly two centuries since the time of the first settlers led by Angeles City founder Don Ángel Pantaleón, who brought an image of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary La Naval, and made the first procession in the area called “Culiat” in the 1830s.
From a relatively unknown barrio, Angeles City has metamorphosed into what it is today – the epicenter of a vibrant economy that now plays host to the Clark Freeport Zone, home of the Clark International Airport, which is now the new gateway to the world.
Celebrated during the 2nd Sunday of October each year, La Naval is a month-long fiesta celebration that ends with “Fiestang Apu.” Up until the 70s and 80s, La Naval is a grand fiesta celebration where most residents prepare the delectable Kapampangan cuisine to serve their guests from other towns or provinces.
The cases of San Miguel Pale Pilsen (brown bottle) stacked on top of one another will determine the number of male visitors who will drink beer all day after partaking of the feast. In the 70s, live dogs are being sold near the Imperial Theater to those who want to have spicy “kalderetang aso” but no one does that anymore. In the 80’s, a carnival usually crop up in the Nepo area near the Angeles Electric Company during the month of October.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 15, 1991, a veil of gloom enveloped Angeles City as economic activities grinded to a halt. The Twin Fiesta celebration was shelved altogether with less and less residents celebrating the La Naval Fiesta and Apu Fiesta.
Back in 1992, former Clark International Airport Corporation President and CEO Alexander S. Cauguiran, now a candidate for councilor in Angeles City, came up with the three-day street festival “Tigtigan at Terakan king Dalan” (TTKD) – a commemorate Angeles City’s triumph from the devastations of Mount Pinatubo volcano. It was a resounding success that had to be done again and again.
From a ghost town blanketed with thick volcanic sediments, Angeles City rose from the Pinatubo devastations like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes. In October 2018, the 26th edition of TTKD recorded more than 100,000 attendees who participated in the festivities until the wee hours of the morning.
The current COVID-19 pandemic, however, stalled the holding of the 3-day festivities, as residents observe health and safety protocols.
La Naval is a battle fought at sea off Manila Bay from March 15 to October 4, 1646 between Spanish soldiers along with Filipino natives against Dutch invaders. The Spanish and Filipino forces with three Manila galleons, a galley and four brigantines, have repelled a fleet of 19 Dutch warships. The Dutch lost in the battle and abandoned their plan to invade the Philippines.
The Spanish victories were attributed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila. On 9 April 1652, the victories in the five sea battles were declared a miracle by the Archdiocese of Manila after a thorough canonical investigation, giving rise to the centuries-old festivities of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila.
After the maritime victory, yearly rosary and novena prayers are being said in honor of Our Lady of La Naval in National Shrine at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City. Angeles City is one of the three places celebrating the Feast of La Naval in the country.
Mr. Jeffrey Buan, Ministry Service Head and Vice Coordinator Parish Pastoral Counci, who experienced La Naval since his childhood shared the activities before and during the Feast. He said La Naval de Angeles had been conducted as early as September starting with a two-week crusade of the image to varies chapel under Holy Rosary Parish Church (HRP).
Before, Buan said the crusade was held for the whole year where the replica of the image goes to different chapels and houses in Angeles. This tradition motivates the people to pray or pray the rosary, but this stopped for almost 30 years. He said they are planning to hold anew the one-year crusade.
They also have a novena mass prior to the feast where they invite 5-10 selected poor families from the chapel community, and prepare them free dinner after the mass, which they described as “Banquet for the Poor.”
And during the feast they serve free food in the Parish Hall that’s open to everyone. And the youth ministry also gives 100 stabs (food packs) to homeless people. More than a hundred devotees also attend the 5pm mass to be followed by a procession starting at Sto. Rosario Street all the way to Lakandula Street, Miranda Street and Rizal Extension route. –Charmaine David