The Pagoda Tragedy of Bocaue, Bulacan

Is there an elder of Bocaue, or comes from Bocaue that forgot the story of Pagoda tragedy?

This became a big news and change the way of celebrating the novena of Holy Cross in Wawa, Bocaue. Victoria Dacer who now lives in Balagtas, Bulacan spent her young ages in Bocaue, Bulacan and knows the story behind the tragedy of the pagoda.

Dacer,  49 years old was born in Manila, and later moved to Bocaue, Bulacan on 1976 at the age of 7. There she spent her childhood and teenage years. The fiesta celebrating the novena of the Holy Cross is yearly celebrated on the first week of July. The novena was observed for nine days, and a big pagoda(or a huge boat carrying the miraculous Krus sa Wawa and its devotees) is having a procession in the river of Bunlo, Bocaue. She is always present in the novena of the Holy Cross in Wawa every year until she was 32 years old when the Pagoda incident happened.

The pagoda tragedy happened in 1993, first week of July at night. The pagoda sink and the devotees were drowned, killing almost 200 people in the river of Bunlo, Bocaue. According to Dacer, her aunt was lucky enough to survive the tragedy. The name of her aunt is Natividad Jose, along with her friends, they’ve joined the pagoda procession. Natividad, fearing that the boat may sink because of too many people are in the huge boat, decided to leave the boat. After a few minutes, the pagoda starts to move and it started to upturn when it reaches the deepest part of the Bocaue river, straight from Bunlo and near to Binyang making the devotees be drowned. Mostly children and aged devotees are on the boat.

There are rumors that there is a skyrocket(kwitis) that goes inside the boat, making the passengers to be in panic and all of them goes to only one side making the pagoda lose its balance. But according to the observation, the boat is weak to handle many passengers and became the reason why the pagoda upturn.

Since then, the boat used in the celebration of the river festival was crafted to be a lot more smaller, and carry only a limited number of people. The pagoda is not allowed to carry a hundred of people, and only the devotees that will participate in the prayer is allowed to ride in the pagoda.

Not only the pagoda was changed, but the life itself in Bocaue is changed while the time has passed according to Dacer. In the recent decades, the people living in Bocaue are prosperous, and almost all houses have a business of firecrackers. They’ve increased their income a lot when the ‘ber months came. Unlike on the present time, were only limited shops are prohibited to sell legal firecrackers. Because on the old times, there’s no permit and anyone can make and sell firecrackers.

Bocaue is well known in the story of the pagoda tragedy and being the hometown of firecrackers that becomes marketable during ‘ber months especially in December. The Bocaue Pagoda tragedy is still fresh in the minds of those who live in Bocaue, Bulacan. As this tragedy became a big news and a memory to all aged citizen who lives or became part of Bocaue, Bulacan including Aling Vicky.

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3 thoughts on “The Pagoda Tragedy of Bocaue, Bulacan

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