Saturday, October 26, 2013

FORT PILAR THROUGH THE YEARS @ 1997 to 2011 (written 2011)

Soon it is October and Fiesta Pilar is fast approaching.  The spirits in Zamboanga City are high again. Everyone in Zamboanga City and those whose heart is close to Zamboanga look forward to this Feast.
from Wikipedia: The Hermosa Festival also known as Zamboanga La Hermosa Festival or popularly known as Fiesta Pilar a month-long festival held each year in the city ofZamboanga,[1] the city center of Zamboanga Peninsula Region in the Philippines. It is one of the Oldest Festival in the Country and the most awaited Event in the Region.
The Festival is being held in honor of the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Pillar (Spanish and Chavacano: Nuestra Señora del Pilar), the patroness of Zamboanga City which is held in every 12 October. It is also the patroness of Zaragoza in Spain, the sister city of Zamboanga in Philippines.[2]

The Zamboanga La Hermosa Festival embedded in Zamboanga’s rich history of devotion to the Nuestra Señora del Pilar that is supplemented by rich legends.

In the Spanish Era, Zamboanga was an integral part of Spanish Colonization. In 1635, the Spaniards built a fort in Zamboanga named 'Real Fuerza de San Jose in Brgy. Zone IV area to secure them against the attacks of the moro warriors. Spaniards held the city as a seat of government and became the cultural center of the south, and was deeply seated in Hispanic heritage and tradition.

In 1734, The Lady's was brought to the fort as a front piece for the main entrance. The western side of the fort was converted into a shrine for The Lady when the fort was rebuild in 1860 and the fort was renamedReal Fuerza de Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar and some also called the fort as Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza because of the same name of the Basilica in Zaragoza, Spain.[3]

The city’s devotion to the Lady of Pilar was legendary, because of the wealth of stories, miracles, and apparitions surrounding the virgin for the past few years in the city as people what believed.[4

Even if the Fiesta Pilar is a feast for Zamboanga's Primary Patroness, Nuestra Señora La Virgen Del Pilar De Zaragosa, the feast transcends religion.  Muslims and Non-Catholics may not celebrate the Feast itself, but they may join in other activities set by the City of Zamboanga. The non-religious preparations are spearheaded by the City of Zamboanga itself such as the Chavacano Song Festival, regatta, agri-aqua fair, Miss Zamboanga pageant among others. from: The annual Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is one event in Zamboanga that is being attended not only by the catholic devotees here but also visitors from neighboring cities and regions and even other countries visit Zamboanga to witness and be part of the celebration. Although the actual feast day is on October 12, activities however will be a month long affair starting the first day of October. This year’s fiesta celebration is anchored on the theme: “Vamos a Zamboanga,” stressing the city’s goal to promote Zamboanga as a tourist and investment destination in this part of the country. (Jocelyn Alvarez/JPA/PIA 9-Zambo City) from: Lobregat said the festival will not only revere the patron saint but will also aim increase people’s awareness and interest on the rich history and cultural heritage of Zamboanga City, and also on the potentials of its local tourism industry. For the Catholics, the center of activities is in Fort Pilar, the Shrine dedicated to the Patroness of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, Nuestra Señora La Virgen Del Pilar De Zaragosa.
Here are pictures of the Fort Pilar Shrine through the years: 1997. I found these pictures with close relatives who came all the way from the US on March and August of 1997.
The wall of the Shrine where the Lady of the Pillar is seen to this day, but this is still the old altar. 

the El Cruz Mayor appears old and simple
The Shrine is at the side wall of the Fort Pilar and this wall has been retained as original up to the present time, but note the old altar.
the kiosk in 1997
1999. Here are pictures with the family as we visit Fort Pilar in the morning of Fiesta Pilar 1999. The family usually prepares the big red Chinese candles with the golden dragon as candle offering.

2000. It is Fiesta 2000. The family visited the Fort Pilar Shrine at about midnight. Many of the devotees visit during the eve of the Feast to avoid the flux in the morning and also probably, to avoid the heat the next day!
2003. I found this picture when my mom and my brother visited me. This was a few days after the Fiesta.
This is El Cruz Mayor and the cross is still white in color.                                                
2005. These are the pictures I have of Fort Pilar and the Fort Pilar Shrine in the aerial view in 2005.
This is the location of the Shrine in relation to the Fort Pilar Museum
The empty space is where the present Paseo Del Mar is located.

2007. We regularly visit Fort Pilar and this is how it looked in 2007.
El Cruz Mayor in Fort Pilar and the Prayer Before Lighting the Candle

El Cruz Mayor in Fort Pilar now has a different look.                                                                                  
The altar at Fort Pilar
Note, the altar is now different.      The  altar is now made of marble. However, the wall of the Shrine is still the same.
Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragosa
Las Campanas del Santuario de la Virgen del Pilar
These are the new carillon bells called Las Campanas del Santuario de la Virgen del Pilar. From Wikipedia: A carillon (English pronunciation: /ˈkærɨlɒn//ˈkærɨljɒn/, or /kəˈrɪljən/French: [kaʁijɔ̃]) is a musical instrument that is typically housed in a free-standing bell tower, or the belfry of a church or other municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to play a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. Here is the Fort Pilar Shrine at night.
This 2007, lights adorn the shrine.
2009. The Shrine of the Lady of the Pillar in Fort Pilar is always beautifully adorned during the Fiesta Pilar.
Focal points in the Fort Pilar Shrin: the fountain, the cross and the bells
This is usually the first stop of the devotees:  El Cruz Mayor of the Shrine of the Lady of the Pillar
Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragosa

The devotees, then, light the candle... it may be the traditional small white and colored candles, but many devotees also prepare and bring these special red Chinese candles.
A bit ironic, though, that these candles have the golden dragon design. Presumably, Chinese devotees offer these type of candles,but I didn't really ask. I thought it was quite common to light the Chinese candles...
The carillon bells
People of all walks of life flock to the Shrine of the Lady of the Pillar at the eve of the Feast until the next day.
Families and friends come to pay homage to the Nuestra Senora Del Pilar, including ZC  Mayor Celso Lobregat
2010. Another year and the Feast is still as alive.
Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragosa
We also have friends from Cebu who came over and also celebrated the Fiesta with us.
The red Chinese candles...
Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragosa                                                             
with the marble altar...
Las Campanas Del Santuario de la Virgen Del Pilar
2011. The Cruz Mayor of the Shrine has changed from white cross to brown "creative stone" mosaic cross and now to a black granite cross.
These are images of Fort Pilar during Fiesta Pilar in the past years. I look forward to this year's Fiesta Pilar...

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