It was about seven in the morning when I woke up that day, I quickly fixed my self to get ready. I knew that it was going to be an exhausting day for me yet procrastination didn’t even entered into my mind. I was so excited! For this day will be the first time I would experience the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the black Nazarene, the feast is celebrated every January 9th of each year. The history of the said image dates back during the galleon trade days between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico where the image was carved by an anonymous carpenter .
Originally the image’s color was of Caucasian skin, but due to a fire incident upon its arrival in Manila the image of the Nazarene or the Nazareno as the devotees would call it, charred and blackened.***
I took the train and there was a lot of devotees who were on the same car. While standing inside I could not help but notice the devotee sitting in front of me. Inside her bag is an image of the Nazareno
I asked her if I could take a picture of her Nazareno and she was happy to let me take some.
While taking pictures of it, she told me the story of her Nazareno. She said that the image that she was carrying inside her back is about 50 years old already. It was passed to her by her mom when she got married as a gift.
Every year she would take the image to the processing and have it blessed inside the church. I can see how much she cares for the image not just because of her devotion but because of the memories it has for her.
Phone signal that day was jammed or maybe even turned off by the government for security reasons. The only information that I have that time was that they are situated within the Lawton area where the procession would pass by.
I was lucky enough to have spotted Ivan immediately as he sit on top of the roof of an underpass. But the question was how do I get there? I couldn’t see any ladder or anything else that I could use to climb to the roof except for the pole of the light post and a tree.
As soon as Ivan saw me he shouted to get up through the tree. I was thinking “hey this should be easy!” but when I tried to cross by stepping on one of the tree’s branches I realized that I was wrong! I started thinking that I was gonna fall and that the branch could not support my weight. But I had no choice that was in fact the easiest way.
There were several people on the roof as well, most of them are photographers and enthusiasts. Some of them had to go down the roof and like how I described it to be difficult to get up through the tree it was the same getting down, so some of them used the light pole to slide down to the ground.
I got to Lawton by nine in the morning Ivan said that it would take a while before the procession gets to our place and may arrive around twelve noon.
Devotees of the Nazareno walks barefoot for a couple of reasons. First is that it is their sign of respect to the Senyor Nazareno. The other one is for practical reasons, the crowed during the procession gets really thick and your foot wear would just get torn appart after it
It was twelve in the afternoon and the Andas (the image’s carriage) is no where to be seen. We heard that the andas of the Nazareno was still near the Manila Hotel area which is just a fraction of the procession’s route. I was starting to get hungry (gutom na talaga ako pagdating ko di pa ako nagbreakfast eh… ) luckily Filipinos are very enterprising hence, there were vendors every where and there was no need for us to get down.
On the other side of the road I saw a few people taking time to rest in preparation of the Senyor Nazareno’s arrival. But on the road that we were facing at was a different story at all.
People came in groups and the later it get the thicker groups starts coming.
It was about four in the afternoon the crowd has grown already. The road had already been filled but the procession still has not come. Our location is just about a fraction of the procession’s routes and yet the Senyor Nazareno is not even at a distance from where we were.
While killing time talking just about anything we noticed that there was a sudden commotion, Mayor Alfredo Lim of the city of Manila suddenly appeared on the crowd and of course you wouldn’t be in the Philippines if there’s no “Picture! Picture” moments.
The procession of the Nazareno is participated by groups a lot of them aside from their “panata” or devotion that they will pull the Andas’ rope also bring images of the Nazareno to join the procession.
At about five in the afternoon we started feeling exhaustion. We haven’t had proper lunch, bathroom to go to and we were under the scorching heat of the sun all day. Chinchan and Ivan looked like they came from the beach because of the heat, as for me well I don’t know if I could get any darker because I already am. =)
We have been waiting now for about over ten hours for the Senyor Nazareno. Actually we already saw the crowed waiving white handkerchiefs at around five in the afternoon signaling the image’s arrival but it was past seven pm already and we still can’t see the Andas of the Nazareno.
We learned that the Andas’ wheels were broken because of the thick crowd in the procession. It was proposed that the image be transferred to a truck but the devotees refused and insisted to continue even with broken wheels
The groups waiting on the road in front of us started forming chain like lines, I guess for them not to get lost among the crowd.
Suddenly people started flowing like the sea every one was shouting “Viva! Viva!” in honor of the Senyor Nazareno. Then I realized there it was happening in front of me the rope that every one is fighting for so that they could pull it for the Senyor as their thanks giving.
Finally at the end of the rope was the Senyor Nazareno’s Andas. Ivan said that it was the first time that the parish priest of the Quiapo Church rode the Andas of the Nazareno , later I learned it was because of the broken wheels that’s why the priest went out the Andas and help with its navigation.
Devotees with prayers try their best to climb the Andas to say a prayer, some of request and some giving thanks for favors done for them.
At about past eight in the evening the procession had passed by already. We were tired and hungry but as we have said every thing was worth it. The sacrifices done for this day were all given for the glory of God. Comparing to what the devotees does to give thanks to the Lord for their answered prayers what we have done today is nothing. definitely nothing to regret.
We all went home after eating at a nearby mall that night, with a sense of fulfillment and blessedness we all got home safely. The following day I learned that the procession ended at about six in the morning that following day making it the longest procession of the Senyor Nazareno in history, a total of 22 hours. I am glad I went now I can tell my grand children that I was part of history.