Friday, January 9, 2015

Feast of the Black Nazarene: A Devotion Passed on to Generations

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Viva, Nuestro Senor Nazareno!

Today, January 9, 2015 is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. I'm always amaze how Filipinos would do anything for their belief. Happy Feast Day, Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. Thank you for all the blessings, the miracles and the faith that abounds for all the believers.

There's 3,500 police officers assigned to secure the Nazareno procession or traslacion. I'm just not sure if it already includes the MMDA enforcers who were reported to be wearing adult diapers to keep them on guard at their post and avoid having them leave to look for a restroom or toilet. "Paano na kung natatae?" Lol!

How about you, do you think its a practical thing to do or would only put their personnel into disgrace and shame? Is it a violation of their human rights? Imagine having to do their duty while aware that they're "wet" in their pants. So when you're talking to an enforcer, wondering why it seems "kinikilig siya", now you know.

How come there was a long delay before the procession even started. The organizers from the church only realized to make use of the police to make the crowd move away from the path of the procession after a few hours of waiting. The church leaders couldn't make the people move out of the way so their men could connect the rope to pull the "karosa" or carriage holding the Nazareno. The people wouldn't cooperate since everyone wants to keep their location advantage. Kahit sinabihan na ng pari "Yung mga uusog ay pagpapalain, pero yung ayaw ay kakabagin" ay wala pa ring nangyari. Honestly, the behavior of some people at the Nazareno doesn’t bode well for the Papal visit.

The Nazareno image is one of two statues sculpted from pure ivory and were burnt aboard a ship during the Manila galleon expedition from Mexico leaving the other destroyed. The descriptive name of the sculpture is then taken it being "Black" resulting from the incident that happened. "Ang estatwa ng Nazareno ay larawan ng pagpapakumbaba, pagsunod, at pag-ibig."

The Black Nazarene is constructed kneeling with the height of 5'5 along with the halo and the cross of 6'0. The image is built during the early 1600s transporting from Mexico by the Manila Galleon route founded by Andres de Urdaneta fouded in 1565.

The image is dressed in a heavy velvet maroon tunic, embroidered with floral or plant emblems in gold thread, and with lace trimmings on the collar and cuffs. Around its waist, a gold-plated metal belt embossed with the word "NAZARENO" while a golden chain and ball loops around the neck and is held in its left hand, representing the Flagellation. The barefooted statue is in a genuflecting posture, symbolizing the agony and the weight of the cross with the pain Jesus Christ went through during His crucifixion.

The statue's original body has lost several fingers over the years, and the original head has since been transferred several times onto a full-scale replica body by renowned Filipino sculptor Gener Manlaqui as commissioned by the Archdiocese of Manila. The statue also bears a large wooden cross with gilded brass caps on its ends while the head wears a braided wig made of dyed abaca, along with a golden crown of thorns.

Devotees pin hopes on the Black Nazarene believing the image will bring them good luck and grant their wishes if they participate at the traslacion. This is why the crowd is huge during this day since many Catholics devote themselves, and would do everything to be part of this annual tradition in the Philippines.

Devotees wave white towels as they sing Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno before the Traslacion. You'll see mini towels flying towards the image while the Hijos catch them , wipe them on the statue, and throw it back to the owner (if ever they could remember or figure out who threw it).

The devotion to the Black Nazarene is often passed on from parent to child. It is amazing that the faith of each individual keeps their families sticking to the tradition until the succeeding generations. There have been a lot of testimonials, and it makes one wonder what really motivates these individuals to pursue such a yearly grueling task just to be blessed with good fortune.

In anticipation of the thousand of devotees to assemble in manila, the city usually suspends all classes in Manila especially the ones along the path of the Nazarene feast. A clearing operation a few days before the procession. A few emergency medical teams are on standby aside from the other volunteers from NGOs who are expecting the usual minor accidents and injuries from either open manholes, sudden rush of the crowd resulting to trampling down on some individuals like "mamamasans", and sharp-edged or pointed garbage lying on the streets. It's the country's lame version of Spain's encierro a.k.a. running of the bulls.

Does it make the Pinoy a better neighbor when he is a devotee of the Black Nazarene? The devotion is mostly for purely personal or family intentions rather than for a larger community cause. I would like to believe each and everyone of our countrymen would be praying "God, give me strength and patience for what lies ahead for me" which is better than wishing for material wealth or financial gain. Some would probably wishing for abundance and good health of their family, or to cure a sick or dying family member, but probably the nobler and nationalistic individuals will be wishing for the betterment of the Philippines and its people.

Wat would I wish for? To enlighten our leaders from all sectors of society may it be from the government, church, private sector, and from the masses. We all need to unite towards a common goal so we could really see success. I know some of us would never be contented in what we have right now as we all long for more and our optimum potential (and it does make us more creative, imaginative, inventive and resourceful to think of smart and innovative ideas), but life would be a never-ending struggle if we keep on wishing for something everyday, and would sometimes lure us to the evil temptations.

Happy "Fiesta de la El Nazareno Negro"

Photo credits to Maria Ressa and Janela Paguio

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