Historic Last La Naval Procession in Intramuros

The Feast of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary La Naval de Manila is one of the most awaited religious celebrations in the Philippines; its procession which begins in the Santo Domingo Church along Quezon Avenue, attracts droves of devotees. 

This much-revered tradition takes its roots in Intramuros, the Old Manila, when the Santo Domingo Church was located prior to the bombing of Manila in World War II.  The last La Naval procession in Intramuros is recreated in the movie “Ang Larawan,” one of the eight entries in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival, which begins on December 25. 

Featuring an all-star ensemble cast led by Joanna Ampil, Rachel Alejandro and Paulo Avelino, “Ang Larawan” is the musical based on Nick Joaquin’s play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. Its story of love, beauty, art and family revolve around a father’s painting that his daughters refuse to sell even if doing so would save them from financial disaster. 

Set in pre-WW II Intramuros, one of the highlights of “Ang Larawan” is the La Naval procession witnessed by the protagonists, the Marasigan Family, and their friends.  This scene is one of the reasons why the movie got a grant from the Quezon City Film Development Commission, since the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary La Naval is the Patroness of Quezon City. 

Production company Culturtain Musicat Productions made an effort to create this procession as close to the actual event as possible. A team led by production designer Gino Gonzales, a protégé of National Artist for Theater Salvador Bernal, researched for months regarding the details. They checked old photographs and looked at books about the subject; coordinating with topnotch wood carvers, florists and artisans to fabricate the carroza used in the 1940s. 

The production design team also painstakingly dressed over 700 talents; each one garbed in vintage-style clothing ranging from bestidas for women and girls, to polo shirts and slacks for boys and working-class males, to grand Maria Claras and ternos for society matrons, and suits for the rich gentlemen of Intramuros. Talents who portrayed the Archbishop, friars and sacristans were also dressed in authentic attires. 

Because the project is extremely special, Culturtain immediately got the nod of friends and family, students, and even re-enactors who willingly participated in the La Naval procession scene that was shot right in the heart of Intramuros. 

“We are very blessed and thankful for all their support,” says executive producer Celeste Legaspi. “But biggest blessing is that the Santo Domingo Church allowed us to use the decades-old image of the Virgin of La Naval which was carefully transported from Santo Domingo to Intramuros… We were awed as we were filming the procession... And what viewers will see on screen is truly a wonderful and breathtaking sight!”

“Ang Larawan” opens in theaters nationwide on December 25. For more information about the film, log on to anglarawan.com and check out Ang Larawan The Movie on Facebook. 

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