The feast of the Black Nazarene has long been a spectacle of Filipino faith and human endurance. When the distinctively dark-colored statue of a cross-bearing Jesus Christ, clad in maroon and gold, is moved from Rizal Park to Quiapo Church every year on Jan. 9, it is accompanied by a heaving ocean of mostly male devotees who fight to pull, or even briefly grasp, the ropes attached to its carriage. For those who took part in the ritual called the traslacion, estimated this year at nine million, this is the singularly definitive act of devotion to the image many swear to be miraculous.
By Michael L. Tan
“Procession” is the term we hear most often in relation to the Jan. 9 Black Nazarene crowds that surge through Quiapo, but it’s a term I’ve always felt to be inadequate. A procession is solemn and somber, not quite what we see in Quiapo. An older term that is used to refer to the Nazarene [...]
By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
“This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us: this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm…” A line from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “Hymn of the Universe.”
A day before the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, President Aquino warned of bomb threats. Observers thought only a few would dare join the procession. It was the complete opposite. Never in the history of the Black Nazarene was there an ocean of devotees, about 6.5 million people in all. It was also the longest procession, 22 hours from dawn to dawn, nine hours longer than the usual. All four wheels of the carrosa broke down, ironically right at the heart of the Muslim enclave, a sign perhaps of the bond among common Muslims and Christians. People slept on the pavement, waiting for the image to pass their street. When the local government wanted to make a short cut due to the delay, residents came out in droves to protest.
By Minyong Ordoñez
Last Jan. 9, a TV news program brought to our living room staggering visuals of Quiapo’s Black Nazarene procession, now grown to an epic size of 9 million devotees (up by 2 million over the last two years). The incredible mammoth throng ebbed, waved and surged, releasing tsunamis of adrenaline infused with supplications, compunctions, gratitude and hopes of a downtrodden flock. They directly address their sentimentalism to a mnemonic Christ in stunning black, prostrate by the weight of a cross, tortured and begging for help from tough guys like Simon of Cyrene.
By Neal H. Cruz
Traffic was terrible all over Metro Manila last Monday because of the Black Nazarene procession. Even streets far away from the route of the procession were packed, as vehicles took alternative routes to get to their destinations. But there were no easy alternative routes; all the streets were congested. Many people were late for their appointments and offices and classes or never showed up at all. Worse, many of them could not call to say they would be late because cell phone services in some parts of the metropolis were cut off as part of the government’s security measures against a feared terrorist attack. Some bombs can be set off by signals from cell phones.
By Ambeth R. Ocampo
A future historian going over our print and broadcast news last Jan. 9, 2012, may get the impression that the world stopped, at least in the Philippines, during the 22 hours it took for the ancient image of the Black Nazarene to inch its way back to its sanctuary in Quiapo from the Quirino Grandstand. We all expect minor accidents and petty crime in the unruly crowd. We are not disappointed. We expect random acts of kindness like devotees distributing free food and drink. We are not disappointed. We expect brisk sales in souvenirs and religious articles. We are not disappointed. One can actually write the news report of the fiesta a year ahead to be embellished later with live reports from the scene.