23 December 2009

Karakol Fluvial Festival, Puerto Princesa City, 7 December 2009

The Karakol Festival is a fluvial parade held yearly in the City of Puerto Princesa on the eve of its patron saint’s day, the Feast of the Immaculada Concepcion. It begins with a mass held in the virgin’s honor, after which her statue is paraded the short length from the place of the holy mass (within the premises of the pier) to the docks. From inside the port the statue is carried in a procession into a waiting boat decorated with banderitas – flaglets that express the cheer of expectation and celebration of the virgin’s triumphant arrival. A sizeable number of devotees follow her in procession and ride on the boats parked in the quay. More than a dozen boats and small bancas participate in the parade. The boating parties, led by the virgin’s boat, will then circle the entire cove of Puerto Princesa Bay. Throughout the procession on land and sea, a marching band strikes their vibrant music. The entire parade takes about an hour at sea. Devotees believe that joining the festival ceremonies will bring good luck to them in the coming New Year. It is a beautiful spectacle to behold and I am happy that I was able to join this year’s festivities. The following photographs are some of the ones I took in this year’s celebration.

Before the parade the priests who led the holy mass open the baskets containing butterflies to release them in the air.

The march begins.

The procession to the docks draws a large crowd.

The statue is loaded aboard the banca.

Followers ride on the boat.

The band plays on.

The boating parties.

Coast guards standing by for rescue.


Small boats join in the sea parade.

A plane passes by.

The giant city Christmas tree in the baybay or park by the coast.

Passing a Chinese fishing vessel parked offshore.

Along the baybay.

Nearing the end of the sea journey.

The full military band.

Reaching the end.

Coming to a stop.


The sacristans wait for the statue of the virgin.

The statue carried aloft from the boat.

Exit procession.


  1. Really fascinating photos.
    I blog from New york.
    You read WG Sebald?

  2. Thanks, Elizabeth. I’ve enjoyed documenting this event with photos.

    Sebald is one of my literary heroes, if I can call it like that. His books are just haunting.

    Thanks for the links to your blogs.

  3. You should really check on this post. I just noticed that photobucket is not showing any of your pictures.

  4. Thanks for noticing. I unsubscribed from Photobucket. But I just added all the photos now.