The crowd moved like the ocean; waves upon waves of people swept by the fervor of moving the image of the Virgin back to the Roxas City Cathedral. It was sweltering hot but I swayed slowly along with the Capiznons. From the historic Roxas Bridge, where the statue of the Immaculate Conception rose, around the now barely seen rotunda fountain, and all the way to the city’s old graceful cathedral.
It was almost evening as we alighted from our van back at Roxas City; the group has just visited the nearby town of Panay to see the largest Catholic bell in Asia. We arrived to a city filled with people. The roads have been closed and swarms of people were milling about the town hall area in anticipation of the fluvial procession that would cap this year’s Sinadya sa Halaran festival.
Cups of thick tsokolate to kickstart our bodies were offered to us before heading to the Roxas City Bridge. It crosses over the Panay River, which was where the religious procession would commence.
Jostling through a crowd as thick as the rush hour throng in the trains of Metro Manila, we eventually reached the bridge just in time for the Prosesyon sa Suba.
From afar, a small boat bearing the image of the Immaculate Conception slowly floated through the calm waters of Panay River; rippling through the reflections the crowd at the bank of the river as it came nearer the bridge.
The lone boat bearing the image of the Virgin Mary stopped just before the bridge. A crane was then lowered and gingerly lifted the image up towards Roxas Bridge where a karosa filled with cherubs and flowers await.
Sparks flew and fireworks bloomed like crystal flowers above the frenzied city as the image of the Virgin started to move. Garbed in traditional white and blues, Roxas City’s statue of the Immaculate Conception struck me; it must be the most beautiful image of the Virgin Mary I’ve seen.
Horns flourished and xylophones melodiously twinkled; a traditional marching band started to play and the procession continued from the quiet fluidity of the Panay River to the concrete streets of Roxas City. The clergy along with the locals surrounded the image with lighted candles and silent prayers.
After some minutes, the newly-painted facade of Roxas City’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral loomed over the multitudes. Sinadya sa Halaran’s Fluvial Parade reached fever pitch; the image of the Virgin almost literally swimming above a sea of humanity.
The image of the Virgin continued to inch towards the awning mouth of the cathedral as I stepped back and watched everything with awe, having never witnessed a religious procession as intense as Roxas City’s Prosesyon sa Suba.
Location: Roxas City, Capiz
Schedule: Celebrated every first week of December
Provincial Tourism Office of Capiz and Roxas City:
(036) 6210-042 local 221 | (036) 6210-500
GPS Coordinates: +11° 34' 59.43", +122° 45' 11.03"
View Location on Google Maps