Jan 9, 2012

Viva Señor!

Listen to Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno Hymn

Today is the feast day of the Black Nazarene, which is believed by many Filipinos as miraculous.  Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (popularly known as Quiapo Church) is home to the much-venerated statue.  As expected millions of Filipino devotees from all walks of life joined the procession, most of them to fulfill their promise (panata) after receiving a  blessing from the Black Nazarene while others joined to ask for healing, deliverance from calamities and disasters, prosperity, having a child, finding a lifetime partner and many other things. There is also another group of devotees, who, instead of joining the pandemonium, chose to stay behind the procession and clean the litter left by those who joined the feast.

The procession for the Black Nazarene dates back to 17th century and is considered as one of the largest in the predominantly Catholic country. People who join the Black Nazarene procession walk barefooted as a sign of humility and sharing the passion of Christ as he carried the cross to Calvary. The three-mile procession, which usually starts at 9AM and lasts through the night, will bring back the Black Nazarene in Quiapo church. The procession takes longer because the crowd of fanatics will try anything in the hope of touching the statue or even the rope that is pulling the vehicle (andas) that carries it because they believe that the Black Nazarene will protect them, grant their wish and perform a miracle. Hijos del Nazareno is an all-male group of devotees that carries the statue during the procession as well as manages the crowds upon the statue's return in the church for "pahalik" or kissing of the Black Nazarene. 

I once joined the Black Nazarene devotees when it visited Batangas City in April 2011. I patiently waited in the queue for more than an hour just to see and touch it.  I even bought  a hanky for me and Jun to commemorate that event and we always carry it with us.

As I watched the news tonight showing the procession, I have mixed feelings. I am moved by the people's devotion and the Filipinos faith in God. Just like the news anchorperson, I am also asking why there should be pandemonium when everything could be done in a much orderly manner.  But if we become part of the millions waiting to touch the statue or throw the hanky, I am also not sure if order is possible.  Because of the pandemonium, there were reports of casualties and of course there were also reports of pickpocketing but I am sure that the devotees are satisfied, happy and have renewed hopes amid body pains.

Photo credits: Erik De Castro/REUTERS,Aaron Favila /AP, Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA

Others may not understand the devotion (that borders to fanaticism) but that is a part of what makes Filipinos unique. This is one of the reasons why it is MORE FUN in PHILIPPINES.

Viva Señor!



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