Ailing Nazarene devotee tells himself: 'Whatever happens, keep on fighting' | Inquirer News

Ailing Nazarene devotee tells himself: ‘Whatever happens, keep on fighting’

/ 03:16 PM January 09, 2024

Hundreds of thousands of devotees swarm Ayala Bridge on Tuesday morning to take part in the annual “Traslacion.”

Over a million Nazarene devotees swarm along Ayala Bridge in Manila on Tuesday morning (January 9, 2024) to take part in the yearly ‘Traslacion.’ (Photos from ZEUS LEGASPI)

MANILA, Philippines — “Viva! Viva!”

These are the words echoing through the streets of Carlos Palanca in Manila on the morning of January 9, 2024 as the carriage transporting the Black Nazarene passes through Ayala Bridge.


Hundreds of thousands of barefoot devotees flock to the mouth of the bridge, stalling the carriage for quite a while under the light morning rain.


This historical reenactment of the transfer of the religious statue from Intramuros to Quiapo Church is a jubilant occasion.

It symbolizes the faithful’s endurance and deep devotion to the sacred image.

Some participants turn the procession into a test of attrition — a battle of will as they aim to be as close as possible to the carriage or ‘andas.’

They are pushing against the crowd to either assist in pulling the cart forward or to touch a part of the Nazarene’s cross.

Others are content to simply be part of the event, waiting on the sidelines to catch a glimpse of ‘Poong Nazareno (Nazarene God).’

Among them is a man who brought his two cats along with him despite the drizzle.

A man brings his pet cats with him at the procession of the Black Nazarene (Photo by Zeus Legaspi)

A man brings his pet cats with him at the procession of the Black Nazarene. (Photo by ZEUS LEGASPI)

“They are just used to coming with me,” he said as he carried his pets on his shoulders.

The felines looked grumpy, as most cats do. But comfortable, indeed.

They laid beside each other and let out occasional “meows.”

When asked for a formal interview, the pet owner turned his back and started walking faster than he did earlier.

This reporter took his action as a rejection of the request.

During the ‘Traslacion’ or the Black Nazarene’s procession, several replicas of the statue were brought by devotees who accompanied the original sacred image on its route to Quiapo Church.

Even though the objects are reproductions, the items hold deep meaning to the owners.

The devotees express belief on the Nazarene by wiping cloth on the replica as part of the tradition.

The replica carriage which caught the eyes of many attendees was a miniature version, driven by a small child.

A child’s toy truck carries a replica image of the Black Nazarene. (Photo by Zeus Legaspi)

A child’s toy truck carries a replica image of the Black Nazarene. (Photo by ZEUS LEGASPI)

The kid, who is probably around 8 years old, was driving his mini pick-up truck.

The toy vehicle pulled the small statue of the Black Nazarene through Casal Street, away from the crowd.

The rumbling of the faithful’s bare feet were heard across the cement roads of Quiapo.

When the influx of devotees emerged from Ayala bridge at around 8 a.m, bystanders were quick to take cover along the sidewalks to avoid drowning in a sea of people.

Emy Mendoza was among those who stood on a parked fire truck along Casal Street to stay safe amid the roaring crowd.

The 48-year-old dialysis patient said because of her condition, she can no longer sway with the flow of the procession.

Emy has a chronic kidney disease and she has been undergoing dialysis for five years.

She went to see the Black Nazarene to show gratitude for “extending” her life.

“I thank Him because I still wake up every morning. I wish that he extends my life further because my children are still young,” she uttered.

Emy said her affliction is a test from God – something that she knows she can conquer.

“Well, like we say, if it’s given to you, you should accept it,” she said.

“Even if you’re a devotee, you’ll still face challenges. That’s why it’s fine. I accepted it,” she disclosed.

She felt satisfied just to see the ‘andas’ (platform) from afar.

Police are seen patrolling the area where the Black Nazarene is set to pass through near Casal Street. (Photo from Zeus Legaspi)

Police are seen patrolling the area where the Black Nazarene is set to pass through near Casal Street in Manila. (Photo from ZEUS LEGASPI)

The sidewalks near Ayala Bridge were filled with the faithful who were waiting for the Black Nazarene’s arrival.

Some said they have been waiting even before the sun rose, sitting comfortably on sheets of plastic and cardboards.

As the carriage and the crowd made their way to Carlos Palanca Street, an elderly man leaned against a parked vehicle as he tried to catch his breath.

Allan Pangilinan said he can no longer join the procession like he used to when he was a teenager.

Unlike then, he now has breathing problems, which make it difficult for him to be in such a difficult environment.

“I can’t do it anymore. I’ll just stay here,” said the 52-year-old man.

“I’ll follow the procession later and when it gets close to the [Quiapo] church, I will just go and hear the mass,” he talked about his next movements.

Allan turned emotional when he mentioned his prayers to the Black Nazarene.

“I wish for my family’s well-being. I raise it all to Him, especially since I have a condition,” he said.

Allan is not one who will concede to the trials of life.

“Whatever happens, just keep on fighting,” he told this reporter.

A replica image of the Black Nazarene follows the original “andas” at Carlos Palanca street. (Photo from ZEUS LEGASPI)

A replica image of the Black Nazarene follows the original ‘andas’ at Carlos Palanca street in Manila. (Photo from ZEUS LEGASPI)

Allan was one of the lucky ones who did not need immediate medical attention despite his shortness of breath.

Philippine Red Cross puts the total number of patients that needed emergency care on Tuesday afternoon at 600 – and it was not hard to imagine why.

When the bulk of the crowd reached the intersection at the mouth of Ayala Bridge, a mosh pit of shouting devotees had formed.

Some groups tried to reach the ‘andas’ while some tried to go against the flow to take a break from pulling the ropes of the carriage.

“Agos!” other devotees screamed. They were asking fellow devotees to give way.

It was useless to push against the crowd.

Some were swept away, others completely lost their consciousness and collapsed.

And despite church officials’ continuous reminder that climbing the carriage is prohibited this year, devotees still did everything they could to perform this dangerous maneuver.

Most of those who tried to climb the ‘andas’ were teenagers and young men.

They held onto the cross with their eyes closed, all while fighting off “soldiers” who were lay people tasked to protect the sacred image.

Witnesses to the Traslacion cannot help but admire just how far the faithful will endure just to manifest their faith, trying to get close to an image of a similarly suffering God.

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The throng of Nazarene devotees hope such an annual historical event will carry on through the years.

TAGS: Black Nazarene, Nazareno 2024, procession, Traslacion

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