Filipinos pack capital for Catholic procession


Catholic devotees jostle to get closer to the centuries-old image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous celebration on its feast day Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 in Manila. The annual procession by hundreds of thousands of devotees is now becoming to be a tourist attraction. NOY MORCOSO III/

MANILA, Philippines—Hundreds of thousands of mostly barefoot Roman Catholic devotees joined a raucous procession through the streets of the Philippine capital Wednesday in an annual ritual to demonstrate faith and seek miracle cures for illnesses and a good life.

Police estimated about 500,000 people left from the parade grounds of Manila’s Rizal Park for the daylong march that sees a statue of Jesus Christ pulled through the city’s central district.

Wage laborers, the unemployed, slum dwellers and middle-class professionals jostled to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene or wipe it with towels or handkerchiefs in hopes that the mystical powers they believe it possesses will rub off on them.

The blackened, centuries-old, life-size wooden figure of Christ bearing the cross was brought by Spanish missionaries from Mexico to Manila on a galleon in 1606 and survived fires, earthquakes and World War II bombings.

Security guard Jason Mohica believes his 4-year-old son, who was sleeping in a stroller, was revived by the Nazarene after he was born lifeless for several minutes.

“We don’t know what happened,” he said. “This has been our annual devotion because this is his second life.”

Dennis Defensor, a 36-year-old cashier at a construction company, was joined in the procession by his wife to express their gratitude to the Nazarene for giving them a child.

He said he first joined the procession in 2010 wishing for a baby. “Here,” he said, pointing to his 14-month-old daughter, “we have been blessed, and then I got a job.”

“I pray that my family won’t have problems, that we continue to have jobs and my child would be healthy. This will continue until we grow old,” Defensor said of the annual sacrifice of walking barefoot for hours along  Manila’s streets.

The Red Cross said dozens suffered minor injuries and one was seriously hurt.

The crowd is expected to top 1 million by the time the statue is returned to its home in Quiapo Church. About 3 million took part in last year’s procession despite the government’s warning that it might be targeted by al-Qaida-linked militants. No such warnings were issued this year.

Wednesday’s march also took on a political note.

In a Mass before the start of the procession, Manila Archbishop Antonio Tagle called on the faithful to respect life. In a jab at the recently approved reproductive health law opposed by the Catholic Church because it promotes contraceptives and sex education, Tagle said that state funds that should be spent to feed the people, build homes and schools “are instead used for instruments of death.”

“I hope that more people will come forward as witnesses to the sanctity of life,” he said.

More than 80 percent of the 94 million Filipinos are Catholic.

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  • Ike

    I dont know if this 10 million or so people realized that they are worshiping the wrong representation of Jesus Christ. To start with, Jesus is a Jew and not a Negro. And when He carried the cross to the calvary, he was almost naked and bladly bruised due to lashing and torture that he had receive prior to carrying the cross. He is not wearing anything clean or fancy similar to the black nazarene. This black nazarene is a piece of wood sculptured an unknown mexican sculptor(as per history). So what about the 4th Comandment of God where He clearly states in Exodus 20.4: You shall not make yourself of an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or in earth beneath or in the waters below. You should not bow down to them or worship them.
       And where is black nazarene housed. In a church where the outer walls is sorrounded by manghuhula(soothsayers) mangkukulam who sell black candles to bring bad lack to other people, as well as amulet, at kung anu anong mga pampalaglag if you want abortion, which is all detestable by God as in Deutoronomy 18:10-13.
      And what about those that had their miracoulous healing. Well even this mangkukulam, spirit mediums and those who had sold their souls to the devil can give you healing that defies human logic.

    • ADD

      They don’t want to read and they don’t want to understand, all they want is just to follow what the others are doing and what has been the traditions and rituals in the past.

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