The manner in which the feast of the Black Nazarene was celebrated last Friday in Quiapo is a phenomenon that is expected to have a spill-over in the upcoming feast of the Sto. Niño in Cebu and Tondo. This magnitude has never happened before.
Watching it on TV, I am reminded of how we can easily succumb to great servitude or irrational passion in times of crisis and uncertainty. Well, what can we hope for anyway in these times of global economic crunch, Middle East conflict, political crisis in the country and protracted war in Mindanaw. The movie “Himala” in the 80’s is a reminder and also the massive lighting of candles in the eve of the Millennium. I almost shouted for a stampede when the church gate opened to usher the Black Nazarene and the devotees rushed to obtain a strategic spot inside the church. Cardinal Rosales who is mostly cool, blew some hot air sensing something had really gone awry outside when the procession jammed. Throughout the celebration, I could only cross my fingers and toes that no acts of terrorism would happen.
When I arrived in Manila yesterday and chatted with a friend over bottles of beer, I have learned that actually throng of devotees had walked bare foot from their places of origin – as a tradition – to partake in the celebration. They left their homes or parish before sunrise and would be lucky enough to have a piece of cloth touched on the Black Nazarene or, at least, get a hold of the rope attached to its cart before being swept by the crowd with the same intention. We got a report on media that what makes the feast so extraordinary is that, one can hardly distinguish the rich from the poor who were there. But I believe this is not the case so. In fact, there were more hapless and desperate people there. I supposed no haggy was there. Well, correct me if I am wrong.
I also confirmed that the removable arm of the Black Nazarene may be borrowed by anybody who is close to the prelate in Quiapo Church. A friend of mine confided that he has a friend who can borrow the arm of the Black Nazarene and take it home to a relative who is ill. (I have not asked how the one armed Black Nazarene may appear to the devotees or how they covered up the borrowed arm). Then, the arm of the Black Nazarene will be placed on the sore part of the patient body but mostly on the breast for some kind of healing or soothing effect. Imagine breathing heavily under the hand of God. What is common knowledge is the taking of the arm to pilgrimage as in Cagayan de oro this year. What Romy suspected maybe true. Figuratively, the part could represent the whole.
The anxious and hopeless spirit does not actually mind about the real story, what it takes is something symbolic or tangible it could pin hopes on.
– daniel conejar