Nazarene devotees told to 'keep life sacred'

Cheryl M. Arcibal, Dennis Carcamo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Although thousands of Filipinos continue to join the Black Nazarene feast, it does not indicate the continued strength of the Catholic Church's influence over the population, an analyst said Wednesday.

Devotees have flocked to join the procession for various reasons such as seeking favor, blessings, thanksgiving or even a vow.

Authorities have estimated that about some 500,000 devotees joined the procession following a mass at the Quirino Grandstand. The procession began at the Quirino Grandstand Wednesday morning where the image of the Black Nazarene was transferred on Monday evening for the "pahalik" tradition. The image was placed on the carriage called the "andas" at about 7 a.m.

The procession commemorates the feast of the "traslacion" or the transfer of the image from the Recollect Church in Intramuros, Manila to the Quiapo Church in 1787.

"This is a [manifestation of] faux Catholicism," said Jimmuel Naval, a pop culture and history professor, in a TV interview.

Naval added that even before the Spaniards invaded the Philippines, Filipinos had worshipped animals and other living things to seek favors and blessings.

"This is the Filipinos own brand of Catholicism," he said.

Asked if the continued devotion of Filipinos to the Black Nazarene indicated that Filipinos are stll heavly influenced by the church and their faith, Naval disagreed.

"May RH (Reproductive Health) or wala, ganyan ang mga tao at iyan ang kanilang gawi. Bagama't may mga deboto na nakasuot ng maroon o purple diyan, walang relasyon iyan sa RH," Naval said.

"Iyan ay kanilang paniniwala, pananalig at ang pagdadasal ay ginagawa ng mga deboto," he said.

Naval added that the feast gives Filipino Catholics the chance to start afresh for the new year.

"Keep life sacred."

In his homily at the Quirino  Grandstand, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle  called on the millions of devotees of the miraculous Black Nazarene that the real devotion is to maintain that life is sacred.

During his homily at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila before the yearly procession to Quiapo Church, Tagle told faithful that the real devotion is to respect life and that Jesus Christ came to the world to give life.

Tagle made the appeal after the recent spate of killings in the country. He said this widespread violence could be attributed to people who have lost love in their hearts.

He said the celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene is to celebrate the people's faith in God.

Meanwhile, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said it is already a miracle that every year, millions trooped to the annual procession with no untoward incidents.

Bishop Pabillo also called on the devotees to continue their devotion by regularly reading the Holy Bible and hear mass.

He added that those who join the yearly Black Nazarene procession are not fanatics but rather a manifestation of the devotees' folk religiosity.

"Ang folk religiosity ay pagpapahayag ng pananampalataya ng mga ordinaryong tao, dito hindi natin makikita ang fanaticism, kasi mapayapa ang mga tao, nagdarasal sila ng taimtim at gumagawa ng sarkipisyo alang-alang sa pananampalataya. So ito iyong malalim ang pananalig nila kaya hindi ito matatawag na fanaticism,” Bishop Pabillo told Radyo Veritas.

Authorities estimate that around nine million devotees would troop to the celebration today.

"So far, so good."

Meanwhile, Col. Ricardo Layug, Manila Police District-Station 3 chief, said at least 50,000 devotees are awaiting the arrival of the Blak Nazarene image in the immediate vicinity of the Quiapo Church.

"Compared to last year, mas maayos ngayon [ang security arrangement]. Nagkaroon kami ng series of conferences na kasama ang ibang agencies," Layug said in another TV interview.

He added that cops in plain clothes have been deployed to monitor the progress of the procession.

"So far, so good," Layug added.

Reports earlier said the Philippine Red Cross has treated more than 100 people, 62 of wom sustained minor injuries.

In 2012 the procession took 22 hours to arrive at the Quiapo Church after the wheels of the carriage carrying the Black Nazarene image broke down. Cellphone signals were also jammed, following a warning of terror threat during the feast. - with Mike Frialde










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