Stories of faith: Devotees share ‘influence’ of Black Nazarene
Every January 9, the feast of the Black Nazarene gathers millions of devotees from Manila and neighboring provinces.
The huge crowd often results in injuries or difficulty in breathing for elderly devotees especially during the procession, but no matter the inconvenience, devotees would do whatever it takes to complete their panata (vow) to the Black Nazarene.
In an earlier interview, Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, Rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said people would wait in line for seven hours without complaint, to go near and touch the image.
“They say Filipinos are resilient, but where is this resiliency coming from? It’s the practice of our faith,” he said.
Roderick Bautista, 50, from Laguna went by himself simply with a backpack and towel with writings that said “Viva Nazareno!”
He said he lived as a devotee because it was his mother’s practice since he was a child. “When I was small, I really have a weak body. Hospitals tend to turn us down then, they would say that I was hopeless. But she prayed to the Black Nazarene and here I am. Now, I also pray for my family’s health in turn,” he said in an interview at the Quirino Grandstand before the procession started dawn Thursday.
For others, the yearly Traslacion is not only a showcase of their devotion but a time to bond with loved ones as well.
Father and son Doddie Lotino, 50, and John, 10, have started this tradition since 2011.
Doddie has separated ways with his partner so it was only him who brought John every year for the procession.
“He used to ride on my shoulders during our early years together in this tradition. Now that he walks by himself, he still wants to come so I have company,” he said.
Meanwhile for some, like 26-year-old Almer Padilla, attending the procession has brought them many blessings including the health of his wife and the growth of their small sari-sari store business.
“Before it seemed really hard, bad things were pouring in all at once. But when we started attending the procession, life all of a sudden seemed to be better,” he said.
Through the years, the number of devotees has increased steadily even with modern perspectives and ideas.
And though others may not fully comprehend the devotion of many, the devotees themselves share a reason that can only be understood by them.
In a Catholic News Agency report, Ignacio explained through the words of Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle: “To understand the devotee you have to be a devotee. Only a devotee could best understand a devotee”.