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|Our Lady of Salambao of Obando, Bulacan|
by Jovi Atanacio
Bulakeños of Obando celebrate their town fiesta from May 17-19, a joint celebration of their three (3) titular patrons -- St. Pascual Baylon, St. Clare of Assisi and Our Lady of Salambao. Each patron is invoked for a specific request -- St. Pascual is for anyone asking for a spouse; St. Clare for those looking for a sweetheart, and the Virgin, for couples begging for a child. The procession is accompanied by a prayerful dance of swaying sideways, skips and hops.
Our Lady is shown as the Immaculate Conception with her hands folded in a prayerful supplication. She stands on a net while a fisherman is shown holding a small fishnet. This depiction relates the story of how her image was discovered and how she came to be known as Birhen Salambao - a title which means "Our Lady in a net."
According to the 1855 narration of the Franciscan historian, Rev. Fr. Felix de Huerta, devotion to Our Lady of Salambao started when the brothers Juan and Julian de la Cruz of Malaban went fishing in the waters of Obando. Thinking that they had a big catch, they were surprised to see that their net had caught a beautiful image of the Blessed Virgin -- standing upright in the net. The two decided to row the boat home to Malabon with their unusual catch but was unable to. But when they headed for Obando, their boat sailed smoothly.
News of the miraculous find reached the town and people gathered on shore to welcome the Virgin. The Parish Priest led the people in processing the image to the Church of Obando where she was later enshrined.
Source: "Madonnas of the Philippines" by Mrs. Lutgarda A. Aviado