Dentist’s trip to Quiapo started with devotion to ‘White Nazarene’
MANILA, Philippines—For the past eight years, 60-year-old dentist Margie Soriano has been a regular fixture at the feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila.
Like thousands of other devotees, she attends Mass in Quiapo Church and participates in the “traslacion” or grand procession.
Soriano traces the roots of her devotion to a “white” Nazarene, a seven-foot statue of the Nazarene Jesus bearing the cross, but with Caucasian instead of mulatto features.
The statue has been with her family for 20 years, said Soriano, who attended the procession with her husband Benny, 63, and youngest daughter Glezilda at Liwasang Bonifacio.
She said they used to take the statue around for processions in Taguig and San Pedro, Laguna, every Black Friday. Two years ago, they discontinued the practice when they noticed that the statue began to show signs of wear and tear.
“Now it has a special place in our living room. We pray in front of it every day,” said Soriano.
Since then, Soriano said she began attending the Black Nazarene feast in Quiapo.
“For the first two years I went alone, then my husband and youngest daughter joined me. This is our way of giving back to God,” she said.
Soriano and her family believe the blessings they have received were given to them because of their faith.
Her four children are all professionals—a professor, two airline stewardesses and a pharmacist. She continues to pray for their welfare especially during the feast.
“And maybe for my daughter, a flight stewardess, to get married,” she said.
She cited one incident that she believes proved how the Nazarene keeps watch over her.
“A few years back I didn’t make it to the traslacion because my daughter asked me to just stay at home because there were reports of bomb threats. I felt so guilty that the next day I went to Quiapo Church to apologize to the Nazarene for missing the feast.
“Before I left, I saw how much money was collected during the offertory. I decided to use those numbers as my lotto bet—and I won P9,000! Maybe it was his gift to me, because I still made it to Quiapo despite having missed the actual feast day,” said Soriano.
Soriano, Benny and Glezilda were three among a crowd of around three million Black Nazarene devotees that filled Manila’s streets Friday. That was the total number of participants, according to an estimate by city hall, said Vice Mayor Isko Moreno around 5 p.m. on Friday.
A Philippine National Police spokesperson said, however, that as of 3 p.m., the crowd was estimated to be only around one million.
If the massive gathering at Friday’s celebration is any indication of just how many devotees are expected to flock again to Manila for the upcoming papal visit, then Pope Francis will be a “very happy” man, said Benny.
“Pope Francis is a friendly pope. He likes meeting people,” said Benny.
The Pope is scheduled to celebrate a Mass at Quirino Grandstand on Jan. 19, two weeks after the Black Nazarene feast.
Manila Police District Director Rolando Nana said more policemen and other security personnel will be assigned for the event compared to the number deployed at the Black Nazarene feast.
The Philippine Red Cross set up 12 first-aid stations along the procession’s route to attend to the devotees’ medical needs.
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