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‘Hardly a loving, respectful way to honor the Lord’

We see the piety and fervor of the Filipino devotees to the Black Nazarene enthroned in Quiapo Church every year when its feast is celebrated on Jan. 9. We also noticed the crowds of devotees getting bigger each year; but so, too, the problems confronting city officials in managing them.

Posted: January 30th, 2014 in Inquirer Opinion,Letters to the Editor | Read More »

Grim harvest

It has become widely known as an awesome display of faith and fervor—a showcase of Filipinos’ profound devotion to an image believed to have wrought miracles in many lives, miracles as wondrous as the healing of a patient deemed “terminal,” or as commonplace as a job that materializes when urgently needed, a folk devotion that commands men (and a number of women) to set out barefoot before first light to take part in a ceremony that begins early in the morning and ends way past midnight, that grows ever bigger, more unwieldy, and more dangerous by the year, that threatens grave injury to devotees, even death.

Posted: January 13th, 2014 in Editor's Pick,Editorial | Read More »

Why people turn to saints

Policymakers are to blame why throngs of poor and sick people opt to seek deliverance from the Black Nazarene rather than flock to hospitals for regular medical treatment.

Posted: January 13th, 2014 in Inquirer Opinion,Letters to the Editor | Read More »

Faith surge


It was an awe-inspiring sight I saw on TV last week. That was the near-literal sea of humanity filling up every interstice of Quiapo and neighboring parts, sending ripples this way and that as the procession of the Black Nazarene went underway and a multitude pressed on, the more intrepid or unruly clawing their way toward the carriage and clambering aboard.

Posted: January 12th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »



Almost as soon as Cardinal Luis Tagle ended his homily at the Luneta Park Mass preceding the procession of the Black Nazarene, a big commotion broke out, shattering the solemnity of the occasion. Without waiting for the Mass to end, a number of devotees jostled against one another to take the statue and begin the procession. The clergy stood in shock, unable to do anything to stop the rowdy crowd from rushing toward the improvised altar and knocking down everything on its path. In the ensuing melee, the metal-fabricated “crown of thorns” fell from the head of the revered image. It went missing for more than an hour. Someone in the crowd had picked it up and returned it only when the procession was already underway.

Posted: January 11th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Certified true copy


The story\is told about an uncle who was assigned to choose a name for his newly born niece and nephew. Twins! Guess what he named them? The girl he named Denise, and the boy he named Denephew!

Posted: January 11th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Culture, faith, and the Black Nazarene


If there is a cultural phenomenon that perhaps perfectly encapsulates the complexity of the Filipino religious psyche, it must be the devotion to the Black Nazarene.  Every year, on a day like this, Jan. 9, almost a million Filipinos from all walks of life participate in the frenzied procession of the statue of the Black [...]

Posted: January 9th, 2014 in Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Nothing sacred

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.

Posted: January 12th, 2013 in Editor's Pick,Editorial,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Translating Quiapo


“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 [...]

Posted: January 10th, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

The Nazarene’s nightmare


“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.”

Posted: January 9th, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Message from the Nazarene

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.

Posted: January 25th, 2012 in Inquirer Opinion,Letters to the Editor | Read More »

A machismo spectacular


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.

Posted: January 20th, 2012 in Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »



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