Navy readies vessels for ‘Admiral of the Sea’
Preparations are underway at the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) dockyard in Lapu-Lapu City for Saturday’s Traslacion or ritual transfer of images of the Sto. Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
An elevated platform which towers over BRP Agta LC-290 was purposely put up at the vessel’s bow so people can easily see the images during the fluvial procession from Mandaue City to Lapu-Lapu City.
“We’re privileged that the Sto. Niño will be on board our boat in this year’s fluvial procession,” said Ensign Maria Amanda Precious Zamuco, public affairs officer of the Navforcen.
Unknown to many, the Sto. Niño de Cebu holds a military rank of a captain general since the Spanish rule as manifested in its sash, boots and belt studded with old Spanish coins.
It was specifically recognized as Celentisimo Capitan General de las Esfuerzas Española en Filipinas (Most Esteemed Captain General of the Spanish Forces in the Philippines).
In 2011, the image was given the title “Lord Admiral of the Sea” by the Philippine Navy in acknowledgment of Christ’s lordship over seafarers, mariners and the marine ecology.
Commodore Loumer Bernabe, commander of Navforcen, said it is but proper for them to honor the child Jesus who has immensely blessed Cebu and the rest of the region.
In the 37-year history of the fluvial procession, the family of the late Ernesto Ouano Sr. of Mandaue City provided the yacht or galleon replica for the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This year, however, the Augustinian fathers of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño decided to give other ship owners the chance to ferry the sacred images in response to several requests.
The Navy was subsequently chosen to bring the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe back to Cebu City during Saturday’s sea procession.
Ensign Zamuco said the BRP Agta, this year’s “galleon” of the Sto. Niño, was owned by the Australian Navy since the 1970s before it was entrusted to Navforcen in 2016.
“It used to be known as Her Majesty’s Ship before we renamed it to BRP Agta in honor of the Aeta groups,” she said.
Zamuco said seven other vessels of Navforcen will be used during the fluvial procession.
The Navforcen compound will be opened to people who want to witness the sea procession which starts at 6 a.m.
For the first time, the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe will drop by the Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City shortly before the start of the sea procession.
The annual Traslacion starts with a motorcade from the basilica to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City on Friday.
After an overnight vigil and Mass in Mandaue City, the images will be transported in a motorcade to the Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City.
It will stay there for about two hours before it is brought to the Navforcen port for the fluvial procession.
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