It’s that time again, during the first third of every year in the Philippines when the most religiously fervent of us all get to show the world their utter devotion towards fulfilling their personal panata, or vow of faith. And the very first of these religious observations for the year that require – in the minds and hearts of the faithful – a great act of devotion, is the veneration of the Black Nazarene in Metro Manila. The week of observation leading to the climactic feast day has already begun, as the reputedly miraculous image of Christ carrying his cross from the Quiapo Church has been moved to the Quirino Grandstand for the traditional Pahalik.
As CNN Philippines tells it, by Monday, January 8, the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church had been installed at the Quirino Grandstand close to Manila Bay, to cater to the devotees who wish to participate in the veneration or Pahalik. This had been the standard procedure for several years now, but for one exception: while past venerations began at 12 midnight with crowds of devotees already gathered, this one would not proceed until the early morning 7 AM mass at the site.
Despite knowledge of the later schedule for the Pahalik, the numerous faithful who have made their panata to the Black Nazarene have assembled in a great throng at the Quirino Grandstand as early as Sunday. The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) released a figure that underlined the strength of the veneration of the Nazarene, with 10,000 devotees already assembled for the Pahalik by 6 in the morning.
Organizers at the site with police assistance drew up three lines for people who wished to get close to the image: one for men, one for women, and a general line for senior citizens and persons with disability. A special dispensation was given to volunteer personnel who would be moving the Nazarene’s carosa tomorrow, during the Traslacion or return of the image to Quiapo Church the following day. Seeing as they would be kept very busy during the great event, the organizers allowed the volunteers to venerate the Nazarene first ahead of the lines.
In addition to authorities managing the movement of the crowds, medical responders have set up first aid stations all around the grandstand, ready to see to any cases of fainting, injuries from the crowds, weakness from lack of food or drink, and possible flare-ups of medical conditions. Despite advisories that devotees with such conditions simply sit out the Pahalik and Traslacion for their own safety, to them at this point in time, devotion is all that matters.
The 2018 Traslacion of the Black Nazarene will be on Tuesday, January 9. The procession is said to follow a new altered route that would hopefully speed up the route, which has had the reputation of running too long for comfort with the exponential increase in devotees.
Photo courtesy of Ron Navales