Bocaue Pagoda Festival
Bocaue, Bulacan - 1st Sun July
Every First Sunday of July, the town of Bocaue in the Province of Bulacan celebrates the fluvial Bocaue Pagoda Festival, the Pagoda sa Wawa, which commemorates the discovery of the miraculous cross floating on the Bocaue river 200 years ago.
During the Bocaue Pagoda Festival, a replica of the cross on which Jesus was crucified is paraded on a pagoda adorned with magnificent trimmings and guided by by colorful bancas. Hundreds attend the procession for a nine-day novena, during which they feast and celebrate the legendary rescue of the Holy Cross from the Bocaue River
The Bocaue Pagoda Festival legend has it that an ancestor fished the pagoda out of the river two hundred years ago. Yet as with most, if not all, Filipino festivals religion plays a role. The Bocaue Pagoda Festival is held in honor of the Holy Cross of Bocaue Bulacan or Krus ng Wawa.
The Bocaue Pagoda Festival has a cross which rides on top of a pagoda adorned with magnificent trimmings and guided by colorful bancas. Hundreds of people attend the procession for a nine-day novena, during which they feast and celebrate the legendary rescue of the Holy Cross from the Bocaue River
What is unique about the Bocaue Pagoda Festival festival however is the procession down the river with a huge ornately decorated pagoda float. The float is atop a barge and the river is the Pasig River. Thus is the Holy Cross of Bocaue brought down the river.
Accompanying the pagoda are hundreds of devotees. Probably because of the river setting devotees customarily douse each other with water during the procession. Moreover, those who cannot find space on the crowded pagoda simply swim alongside.
The Bocaue Pagoda Festival is tinge with tragedy though. Huge festivities like the Bocaue Pagoda Festival festival sometimes leads to huge disasters. Thus was the fateful day of July 2, 1993 in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Bocaue Pagoda Festival was held at that time was that of the Sto. Nino, more commonly known as the Pagoda Festival. As ususal people rode a multi-leveled Pagoda especially built to float downstream.
People were dancing, eating, singing and enjoying themselves. But the floating pagoda was overloaded and has exceeded its maximum capacity. Eventually the pagoda begun to sink slowly at first but soon the rate of descent rapidly increased.
When the pagoda started to flood panic ensued. People began jumping into the deep waters. Some made asore but many drown.
Today the Bocaue Pagoda Festival continues, part of it to remember the dead. This tradition will continue as usual with better order and safety. But for sure the Bocaue river festival will live on for a long long time.
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