MANILA, Philippines — She was only 11 years old when her father brought her to the procession of the Black Nazarene.
This time, it was Teresita Maligang dela Cruz’s turn to bring her own children, even her 8-year-old grandson, to a tradition that her father had passed on to her.
“Mga 30 kaming nandito ngayon [We are about 30 here],” 64-year-old dela Cruz said, referring to the family members who joined her this year.
She said she has been a devotee of the Black Nazarene, religiously joining the annual procession for the past 30 years now.
Unlike other devotees, however, Dela Cruz said her devotion was not because of a miracle that she or her family has received or not because she was asking for miracles from the Black Nazarene.
“Sa amin, pasasalamat lang talaga sa mga biyayang aming natatanggap [As far as we’re concerned, it’s simply thanks for the blessings],” she said.
“At kung magkakasakit man, ang dasal lang namin hindi yung mabibigat na problema gaya ng cancer [And if there is an illness in the family, we pray that it is not as bad as cancer],” she said.
Dela Cruz was among the many devotees, wearing maroon and yellow shirts, who gathered at the Liwasang Bonifacio Shrine near Manila City Hall as early as 6 a.m.
Police Superintendent Radel Ramos, head of the sub Alternate Command Post, said street vendors were the first to arrive at the Shrine at around 4 a.m., followed by medical and rescue teams an hour after.
Just under his command, Ramos said 100 policemen have been deployed at the Shrine.
Police personnel in civilian clothes were also deployed to protect the devotees from pickpockets and other petty crimes.
As of 7 a.m., Ramos said they have not received any report of untoward incidents.
Two personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development were also on the ground in case of any missing children.
Several replica images of the Black Nazarene either on top of a carroza, pick up cars, jeepneys and even a tricycle were on standby in front of the Shrine.
Fire trucks and an ambulance carrying the name and image of Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno were also parked at the Shrine in case of emergencies.