Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia: A Home To The Most Celebrated Festival In Bicol Region

Like the province of Isabela where I originally come from, Camarines Sur has its fair share of well-known churches. But when it comes to ecumenical festivals, there is only one church that stands out: Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia. It may be relatively new compared to its aged counterparts but thousands to a million of devotees around the Philippines and the world converge on this church during the Peñafrancia Festival–one of the most attended Marian celebrations in Asia–which happens in September every year. This is the reason why paying a visit to the church is not only a spiritual but worthwhile experience even during the regular months.

I ticked that experience on my bucket list when I had my yearly vacation last April 2015. We usually attend a Sunday mass to any of the nearby churches but Ms. Wonderwall suggested the idea of attending one at Bicol’s most famous church, which is located along Balatas Road, last April 18 to be a treasured experience. The whole family succumbed to her idea in the afternoon of the following day.


Upon debarking from the jeepney after a twenty-minute drive from the Heart of Bicol, Naga City, the church’s imposing facade, with its grand belfry soaring like a skyscraper and the well-scythed sward, immediately made an impression. What was more impressive was when we got inside. We were greeted by the chromatic colors of the ceiling, walls, and stained glass windows.


The most astounding of them all were the stained glass windows courtesy of the revered mural painter and stained glass artist, Pancho Piano. The panes that were strewn with a motley of colors portray the fluvial parade of Peñafrancia as the people transfer the Lady from one church to the next.

I stopped from shooting when the mass started. I usually feel sleepy during an afternoon mass but the colors somehow kept my senses alive.

When the mass ended, I rushed outside to check the pavilion, which I already noticed before getting inside the church. This part of the place serves as shelter for the Lady after a big procession.


I was awestruck  when I stepped inside the mini-dome structure that is capped with a glass roof and stained glass as ceiling. According to what I read, each glass pane showcases a story of devotion to the Lady and how her thaumaturgies changed people’s lives.


Now that Lent is around the corner, the place will soon be teeming with devotees once again. The busy days will be relived with the hope of another series of historic events in Bicol’s book. One thing is for sure: Every visit to a church, especially with family, is something to be treasured.

Related Articles

Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Naga City, Camarines Sur (

Penafrancia Fiesta 2015 (

Penafrancia Festival 2015 schedule (

Highlights of Peñafrancia Festival 2015 (

It’s more fun in Bicol: Peñafrancia Fiesta 2015 In Pictures (

UBLA: Kaaldawan of the 41st Penafrancia Fiesta 2015 (

Adventures in Bicolandia: Aboard the Bicol Express! (


33 thoughts on “Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia: A Home To The Most Celebrated Festival In Bicol Region

  1. Bicol is one of my fave place here in the Philippines, I will be biased on this one because my mother came from Bicol 🙂 Aside from the food that is truly rocking there are numerous spots that Bicolanos will be proud of. Your photos reminds me of the province, you truly brought out the beauty of Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia.


  2. This looks like a church I have never seen before. Brilliant piece of architecture in youe home country. The last photo with the shining glass panes is my favorite – wonderfully done with the light glintig through.

    It was very respectful of you to stop taking photos during mass. It is a time where we should all join in and appreciate what we have and who we have around us (that said, I am not religious). The silence and worship is important to quite a few of us.

    I’ve always found the name Ms Wonder wall interesting and what it means. Such a pretty name for your other half 🙂


    • The least we could do is to be abided by the rules. Simple at that. 🙂

      Wonderwall is actually a word coined by an Oasis band member through thier song “Wonderwall”. I’ve always to deviate from exposing my private life and only few knows that I was using that to refer to my wife. Noel Gallagher, the guitarist of Oasis said that wonderwall means “anything that makes you happy or brightens your day”. I’m happy you noticed that.

      Wonderwall also refers to someone you can lean on no matter what happens and will always be there.

      In said song, it refers to a significant other, a certain girl helping the guy with the harder times in his life.

      I couldn’t think of anything more romantic (term) than calling my wife, my wonderwall, in this day and age where public display of affection is abused.


      • I always wondered if you gave your partner that name because of the Oasis song. Now I know, and that is such a thoughtful name to bestow on her. I am sure she must be flattered. It also sounds like a very youthful name 😀


  3. Wow what an awesome church! We do have beautiful churches in the Philippines. One thing we do right over there lol! I want to go to Bicol one day. So many places in the Philippines I want to explore. I hope one day I can do it with my boys especially.


    • Some of the biggest tourist destinations such as the CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC), Caramoan Islands, and this church are worth the visit, Boots. Bring the boys. They would surely salivate for wakeboarding at CWC.


  4. Also, I was going to say I do like what you call your better half (i assume), Ms Wonderwall. Do you call her that or do you just use it to refer to her in your blog? 😄


      • 🙂 I did not expect you to and you would amaze me if you answered a complete yes.
        Been to Bicol a couple of times, my first was when I was still a baby. (Ang gala ko noh) Likewise I did not understood what the priest was saying when I attended the mass. Although, I wished to. Maybe, we can get an interpreter next time? What do you think?
        Still, it was an unforgettable experience to hear a mass in a different dialect. Besides no one would know. hehehe


Feedback is most welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s