Sunday’s grandiose Bocaue pagoda signifies healing and achievements

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The 2024 Bocaue Pagoda designed by the municipal government bears the logo and initials of late Mayor Joni Villanueva and her brother, previous and incumbent Mayor Eduardo “JJV” Villanueva Jr. Photo by the municipal government of Bocaue

BOCAUE, Bulacan—A grandiose pagoda sailed again in Bocaue waters for the eleventh year on Sunday during the feast of Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa reflecting the town’s healing and remarkable achievements after it was docked for 20 years following the 1993 fateful tragedy.

The majestic-designed pagoda never floats again for 20 years since 1994, after 297 Roman Catholic devotees to Mahal na Krus sa Wawa died from drowning when the makeshift watercraft capsized while in a novena on the eve of the feast day on July 2, 1993.

St. Martin of Tours, parish church of Bocaue and town businessman Ruben Mercado led the revival of the grandiose pagoda festival in 2014 which signified healing and recovery, 20 years after the fateful tragedy.

In this year’s feast, the parish church made sure Mayor Eduardo Villanueva Jr. and Vice Mayor Sherwin Tugna lead a splendid pagoda in Bocaue river for the 11th year of its revival.  

Tugna told NEWS CORE that the local government of Bocaue was the Sunday’s festival major sponsor and hermano. The pagoda was designed with the logo of the mayor and his sister, late former Mayor Joni Villanueva’s, which symbolizes their nicknames and acronyms, “JJV” and “Joni” that showcase the milestone achievements of the town through their leaderships.

Villanueva, through the support of his brother, Senator Joel Villanueva continued the dream project of their late sister, which was the construction and operation of the first ever public hospital in the town to serve the town and its people.

Last month, the Joni Villanueva General Hospital, (JVGH) the only Department of Health (DOH) run hospital in Bulacan has been offered to also serve the towns of Plaridel, Obando, Norzagaray, other than its own residents and from neighboring municipalities of Sta. Maria, Marilao, Balagtas, Pandi and Guiguinto with its new level up facilities of Intensive Care Unit with Malasakit Center, PhilHealth Konsulta and Ambulatory Surgical Center. 

The senator led the inauguration of the said facilities. The JVGH was opened in 2023 and has been offering medical health packages on diabetes and hypertensive care, gynecologic screening package and surgical operations.

The late mayor who pushed for the construction of the hospital through their family owned lot property since she was first elected in 2016 died while preparing relief goods and packs for her constituents at the height of the pandemic in May 2020.  

The late mayor’s brother, former Mayor Villanueva ran and won again in 2022 with Tugna, the husband of his late sister, as his vice mayoralty running mate. Both of them won the seats.

The late mayor and Mayor Villanueva have also initiated programs to revive the reported biologically dead Bocaue river, including economic and cultural programs, road and school infrastructures with the continued support of their sibling in the senate.

This year, Tugna said, through the local government’s initiative, the Pagoda Festival on the Krus sa Wawa Feast Day is reinvigorated for the first time through Indakan sa Kalye folk dance competition to also highlight and empower the tourism and cultural capabilities of all the 19 barangays.

“Dynamic fiesta ito ngayong taon kaya may changes. Para mas masaya. Joint effort ng parokya at ng LGU na hermano ngayong taon. Ang disenyo ng pagoda ay parang logo ni Mayor Joni and also current logo ni Mayor JJV. Pinagbigyan ng LGU ang request ng parokya po ng St. Martin of Tours ng Bocaue,” (It is a dynamic fiesta this year to make it more vibrant and happy. It is a joint effort of the LGU as the hermano. The design of the pagoda is similar to the logo of Joni and the current logo of Mayor JJV. We yielded to the request of the parish of St. Martin of Tours of Bocaue for the LGU to serve as hermano this year,” Tugna said.

According to Mayor Villanueva, the town’s flood control project and the full rehabilitation of the MacArthur highway are continuously being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Each barangay has 2 or more infrastructure projects from the municipal government and LGU and DPWH,” the mayor said.

According to the senator, this year’s design of the pagoda is also in honor of his late sister who initiated the Bocaue river revival through the “Bocaue River Wonders” project as part of the rich culture and tradition of the town.

He said the pagoda festival in Bocaue’s distinct rich tradition the people of the town should continue to be proud of. He asked all Bulakenyos to continue being united. He also thanked the parish church for its vibrant works and dedication in keeping the faith of the people of Bocaue to stand again thirty one years after the tragedy.

Bocaue has been a major center of three major faiths and religion, the Roman Catholic Church, the Iglesia Ni Cirsto (INC) which Philippine Arena is a regular and favourite international and national event venue and the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Christian church. JIL is headed by Bishop Eduardo “Bro Eddie ” Villanueva who hails from Bocaue.

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