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A family affair with the Black Nazarene

/ 02:02 AM January 10, 2019
Family of Nazarene devotees

Adelbert Alcaraz (right) and wife Shiela Mae Nava pose at the Quirino Grandstand on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, with their children (from left) Princess Zaira, Prince Joshua, Prince Justin, and Prince Albert. Photo by CHRISTIA MARIE RAMOS/ INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines — The Traslacion of the Black Nazarene is for ordinary people, Rev. Monsignor Hernando Coronel told reporters on Wednesday night as the religious image inched its way back to Quiapo Church in Manila.

“Ito ang kaligayahan ng mga ordinaryong tao… Ito ang araw nila,” Coronel said.

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[This is what makes ordinary people happy. Today is their day.]

So it was that on early Wednesday ordinary people with simple prayers gathered for the massive annual religious event, as the  Andas, or the carriage of a kneeling life-sized icon of a blackened Jesus Christ carrying a cross, started on its procession from the Quirino Grandstnad in Luneta on it ways back to its home, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

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A family affair

One of these devotees was 31-year-old tricycle driver from Pasay — Adelbert Alcaraz, who was able to reach the elusive carriage and kiss the back part of the cross.

With him was his family, who, as early as 11 p.m. on Tuesday, made their way to brave the massive crowd at the Quirino Grandstand at the Luneta to await the start of the procession.

But it was only Adelbert who joined the procession. His partner, 32-year-old sales clerk Shiela Mae Nava, stayed behind with their four kids — Prince Joshua,10; Princess Zairia, 8; Prince Justin,5; and Prince Albert, 1.

Adelbert was able to follow the carriage up to the Manila City Hall. Then he went back to the Quirino Grandstand to reunite with his family.

Meanwhile, Shiela Mae said she had never touched the miraculous image.

Asked why she became a Black Nazarene devotee, she said: “Siyempre para ma-experience ko rin kung ano yung mga naranasan ng iba, pero di naman ako nasali sa prusisyon.”

[Because I want to experience what others had experienced, although I wasn’t able to join the procession.]

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“Hindi kasi ako nakahawak na mismo sa prusisyon. Hindi ako lumalapit doon sa Nazareno. Sabay na rin sa asawa ko, kung anong paniwala niya, ganun na din (ako),” she added.

[I wasn’t able to touch the Nazarene during the procession. I didn’t go near the Nazarene. But I want to believe what my husband believes in.]

A devotee for seven years

Adelbert said he had a tough time when he first joined the procession, right in Quiapo.

“Tinuruan pa ‘ko mismo ng pinsan ko para sumalang, kung paano makalapit, kung pa’no makaakyat sa taas. Tinuruan lang din ako, kaya simula noon, dinire-deretso ko na,” he said.

[A cousin taught mo how to get into the crowd, how to hold on, how to get up the carriage. Since he already taught me those things, I kept on joining the procession.]

Like other devotees, the couple’s faith remained because their loved ones had stayed healthy.

“Deboto talaga ako kasi buhat ng sumalang ako rito, hindi na nagkasakit yang mga ‘yan [mga anak],” Adelbert said.

[I’m really a devotee because since joining the procession my children had not become ill.]

“Kahit baga sabihin nating walang katotohanan. Kung tutuusin, yung mga anak ko hindi naman nagkakasakit. Wala namang mawawala sa’tin pag sinubukan natin, di ba?” Shiela said.

[We may doubt if there’s truth to it. But then my children have not been getting sick. We’re not going to lose anything by trying, right?]

A second life, stronger faith

A few days before this Traslacion, on New Year’s Day their family faced an obstacle when Adelbert fell unconscious. He remained unconscious for almost 48 hours.

“Sobra sa alak siyempre. Pagod din sa trabaho. Tapos biglang uminom, walang kain,” Adelbert said.

[Too much too drink, of course. I was tired of working. Then I started drinking without eating.]

But she Shiela never lost her faith. Adelbert woke up on the afternoon of Jan. 2.

“Siyempre tiwala lang rin ako. Hindi rin naman ako kinakabahan na mamatay siya o ano,” she said.

[I kept my faith. I wasn’t worried that he would die or whatever.]

“Basta nagpe-pray lang ako na siyempre buhayin siya kasi maliliit pa nga yung mga anak namin. Ganun, basta tiwala lang talaga ako,” she added.

[I just prayed that he would remain alive because our children were still young. That’s it. I just kept my faith.]

Adelbert was thankful for what he called a second life given by the Lord.

He noted that the Traslacion was only a few days away.

“Kaya siguro pinagbigyan rin ako ng Panginoon Diyos na bigyan ako ng isang buhay pa,” he said.

[Maybe that’s why the Lord God granted me another chance at life.]

A simple ‘miracle’

Some devotees kept their faith to the Black Nazarene because they had been granted miracles.

But Adelbert and Shiela are content with the simple blessings.

“Wala namang malaking himala. Yung sa amin lang kasi, kahit gaano kahirap, kaya naman namin. Kahit sabihin mong hindi kami kumain ng ganitong oras ng pagkain, pero kahit papaano, nasu-survive naman naming mag-asawa. Kung anong meron, para sa pamilya namin,” Shiela said.

[We never had big miracles happen. For us, no matter how hard our life is, we can manage. Even if sometimes we have to skip a meal, we somehow survive as a couple. Whatever we have, it’s for our whole family.]

“Hindi naman talaga sapat yung kinikita namin. Pero okey lang. Tanggap naman namin kung anong merong ibigay sa amin. Okey lang. Hindi naman kami naghahanap ng sobra,” she added.

[What we earn is not enough. But that’s OK. We accept whatever is given to us. It’s OK. We’re not for looking for anything extra.]

After the interview with INQUIRER.net, Adelbert and his wife – wearing shirts printed with the Black Nazarene image and headbands with the word “Viva Nazareno — led their children to Quiapo Church to attend Mass. /atm

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