Iligan Catholics celebrate ‘politician-free’ fiesta

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ILIGAN CITY — For 11 years now, the Catholic church here has not allowed politicians to take part in the “Pakanaug” rite, which is part of the city’s traditional religious event to start the nine-day novena for the annual fiesta celebration on September 27.

Monsignor Rey Pati-an, rector of St. Michael’s Parish, said the absence of “politics-flavored ritual during the Pakanaug” aims to provide a new direction for the believers.

Before the appointment of the late Bishop Elenito Galido in the Diocese of Iligan in 2006, local officials who hold the three highest positions in the city had always been part of the Pakanaug rite.

In that set-up, the congressman traditionally holds St. Michael’s spear, the city mayor takes charge of the helmet, while the police chief carries the shield as the image of St. Michael the Archangel is being moved down the altar.

The statue of the patron saint will then be taken to the entrance of the church so that churchgoers could closely touch, kiss, and wipe the icon using a white piece of cloth.

The Pakanaug (to bring down) rite, held every 20th of September, marks the start of the nine-day novena mass in preparation for the feast of Iligan’s patron saint, St. Michael de Archangel.

Rey Pati-an said this year’s Pakanaug will witness two firsts: The first time that the ritual of washing the statue is being performed a night before the Pakanaug; and the first celebration without a bishop because of the death of Bishop Galido last year.

For nine months now, the Diocese of Iligan is still waiting for Galido’s replacement.

“In masses, we always included in our prayer that the Diocese of Iligan will have its bishop to lead us. It is not easy for a home without a father and a mother. A bishop plays the role of a father and mother, too,” Pati-an said.

Praying for good health

Victoria Edorot traveled from her house in Barangay Suarez, a 20-minute ride to the cathedral to attend the rite. She has been doing this for 19 years, every year, to pray to the patron saint that she will be given good health always.

Before the image would return to the cathedral from the procession, the 69-year old faithful would already be falling in line at the area designated for the devotees as they take turns in touching and kissing the image of St. Michael.

“Sa una, didto rami mag-atang sa procession sa akong bana sa Ludo (Sabayle Street), pero patay naman akong bana, moderetso nalang ko diri sa cathedral (I used to wait at Ludo with my husband but he is already dead so I just proceed here),” Edorot said.

“Akong pangayoon kanunay nga hatagan ko og piskay ng panglawas, mawala ang sakit sa akong tuhod, ilayo ko sa mga dautan (I always pray God will give me good health, that the pain on my knees will be relieved, that He will keep me from danger),” she added. -Divina Suson/PNA

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