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By: Rommel A. Natanauan
Joroan and Nuestra Señora de Salvacion are inseparable. When we speak of Joroan, we speak of Nuesta Señora de Salvacion because the recorded history of the former is intertwined in the traditions of the Blessed Virgin. In fact, Joroan was known in Bicol because of her image and title as Nuestra Señora de Salvacion.
It was a very simple man by the name of Mariano Dacoba who brought to life the Our Lady of Salvation in Joroan in circa 1700. He was a salt maker by profession and a caretaker of the property of a wealthy Buhinon named Don Silverio Arcilla.
It all began on a certain day when Dacoba was clearing the land which he was tilling. He cut a calpe tree, which is good for use as firewood or post. However, he was amazed because despite the many hours that passed by, the tree remained as fresh as it was before; its leaves did not wilt “Milagro!” he said to himself. He informed his landlord about it. That landlord was Don Arcilla who then consulted the pastor of Buhi of what could be done with it. The friar pastor of Buhi summoned as sculptor named Bagacumba. Out of the tree, he was able to carve three statuettes-Nuestra Señora de Salvacion, San Antonio de Padua, and Nuestra Señora de Solidad—now in Brgy. Joroan of Tiwi, and in the poblacion and Brgy. Tambo both of Buhi, respectively.
In the meantime, a dispute arose between Camarines and Albay as to which province Joroan really belongs. This happened when Jose Maria Peñaranda was the judge in Albay still of the Spanish regime. A political survey was conducted with Capitan Vicente Vera as the leader. Since Capitan Vicente Vera knew his jurisdiction, he was quick in pointing out the landmark—clear proof that Joroan belongs to Albay. Having won the case, Capitan Vera took charge of Joroan and the image of Our Lady as well.
It was a divine plan that the Blessed Virgin be known, love and venerated as Nuestra Señora de Salvacion in Joroan, Tiwi, Albay. The present Bishop of the Diocese of Legazpi, Msgr. Jose C. Sorra, D.D., traces back the beginning of devotion to Our Lady in Joroan in the year 1776.
The people of Joroan, in the spirit of bayanihan, collectively offered some amount for the construction of a chapel in order to subsequently house her. Perhaps, it was of divine ordinance that the communal piety of her devotees be tested and purified. In 1805, a destruction typhoon struck the first chapel. Many times the people tried to restore it, but to no avail because one typhoon after another hit the place. This worried the parish priest of Tigbi, Padre Francisco Borondia. In 1880s, at his behest, the image was transferred to Tigbi Parish Church with the promise that as soon as the chapel was constructed, it was to be returned to Joroan. This dream chapel, however, had never materialized until 1919.
Meanwhile, the people of Tigbi began to develop a liking for the image and an attachment so tender and loving that the Marian devotion soon flourished in Tigbi. On the other hand, the people of Joroan were becoming indignant because the expected promise was long delayed. This dispute reached the civil and eventually the bishop of Caceres. Narciso Cultivo, then barrio lieutenant of Joroan, spearheaded the court case with Domingo Imperial as lawyer.
The case being purely religious in nature, it was dropped by the court and was then endorsed to the bishop of Caceres. The bishop authorized Padre Tomas Bernales, incumbent pastor of Tigbi in 1918, to negotiate the settlement. On May 26, 1918, an assembly was convoked in Joroan. The leaders from Joroan were Councilor Alfajara and Barrio Lieutenant Narciso Cultivo and from Tigbi was Padre Tomas Bernales.
After a painstaking discussion, arrangement was arrived at : Joroan was to be made parish comprising Sugod, Lourdes, Bariis, Maynonong, Misibis, Dapdap, and Mayong Padre Bernales demanded that the barrio folks had to give donations for the maintenance of the parish church and the pastor. The people responded generously. A 16-hectare parcel of land was donated for the construction of the church. On September 15, 1919, the church of Joroan was finally completed. Padre Lamberto Solano Fulay was appointed pastor.
In the reception of their first pastor, a sumptuous banquet was tendered in the residence of Don Felipe Clutario. Later, in Novermber 20, 1919, the image of Our Lady of Salvacion was jubilantly returned to Joroan. With the departure of the image, the parishioners of Tigbi felt forlorn and doloroso; this could have sparked another trouble. The pastor of Tigbi, however,was tactful enough to be able to prevent it. Permission he sought from the bishop to make a replica of her image to enable the people of Tigbi continue their ardent devotion to Our Lady of Salvacion. This explains why both Joroan and Tiwi possess the same image of the Blessed Virgin, the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion.
On August 21, 1976, the image of Our Lady of Salvacion was canonically crowned as the heavenly patroness of the Diocese of Legazpi while the parish church of Joroan was consecrated as diocesan shrine. Henceforth, Joroan has become Albay’s center of pilgrimage officially.
Every year, specially during the whole month of August until September, devotees from all over the Bicol Region and beyond visit the shrine. Not to forget, the last Saturday of August, without any ecclesiastical authorities organizing it, is traditionally held as a special day of pilgrimage. During the vesper of the last Friday, devotees in buses and jeepneys from other provinces of Bicol are coming. In the early morning, they walk in procession from the St. Lawrence Parish Church to Shrine.
Legazpi City to Tiwi is about 45 minutes to an hour of travel. If you reach the poblacion just go farther north about 2 kms to reach the turn for Joroan. Signage can be spotted. Another 5 km drive on paved and winding road will take you to the resorts.
From the terminal in Legazpi City, take the van going to Tiwi. Get down at the Tiwi poblacion or at the final stop. From there ride the jeep going to Joroan crossing which is right in front of the San Isidro Labrador chapel. Then get on a tricycle to take you to the Resorts.
View Nuestra Señora de Salvacion, Joroan in a larger map
Source: Rommel A. Natanauan