Nearly 2,000 seek first aid at Black Nazarene feast

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- More than 1,600 devotees of the Black Nazarene have been given medical attention at the ongoing procession of the image on Thursday.

As of 6 p.m., Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Eric Tayag said on Twitter that 1,686 people were treated for abrasions/wounds, dizziness, fainting and other non-procession related health concerns.

Of the number, Tayag said 12 patients were brought to hospitals.

The patients suffered stroke (3), chest pain (2), fracture (2), high blood pressure (1), high blood pressure (1), sprain (1), dehydration (1), dislocation (1) and seizure (1).

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), meanwhile, said it has assisted 832 individuals as of 7 p.m. These include cases of blood pressure check-up, loss of consciousness, abrasion, laceration, contusion, headache, suspected fracture, dizziness and asthma.

Ten were transported to hospitals.

This year, anticipating some 12 million devotees, the PRC has deployed 285 volunteers and staff from its National Capital Region (NCR) chapter along the routes of the procession.

It has also mobilized 24 rescue vehicles for immediate transport comprised of 19 ambulances, four boats on the Pasig River, one firetruck and one rescue truck.

Last year, the Red Cross helped 1,496 patients, assisted 26 people in welfare desk cases and found a missing child that was reunited with the parents.

12 million devotees

A record 12 million devotees likely poured into Manila on Thursday for the annual feast of the Black Nazarene, an ebony statue of Jesus Christ popularly known for its miraculous powers.

The feast, marked by the procession of the venerated image, is not yet over but the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) expressed confidence that the figure has been reached. The MMDA is the only government agency authorized to release the crowd estimate.

"Yes, it's 12 million," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said in a text message, adding the number is composed of attendees to the procession, non-devotee participants and those who heard masses at the Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church, the image's home.

Tolentino said the procession was faster than expected, despite the change in the route.

This year, devotees passed through Jones Bridge and Escolta instead of McArthur Bridge due to the structure's poor condition.

Organizers earlier pegged the attendance to the feast at 12 million, higher than nine million recorded in 2013

Black Nazarene 2013
MANILA. Millions of Filipinos gather in Manila for the annual feast of the Black Nazarene at Quiapo district on Thursday. (Al Padilla/Sunnex)

The procession, which started at the Quirino grandstand, moved slowly as devotees jostled to get near the image of their patron. It began earlier than expected, around 7:30 a.m., as police personnel were not able to control the crowd that broke through security barriers put up at the Quirino grandstand after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle finished his homily.


Tagle talked about the risk of too materialism on the Christian community during his homily.

"Hindi pwede na susunod ka kay Kristo kung ang nasa isip mo ay pera," he said. "'Yung pagnanakaw hindi na ikinahihiya. Dapat iyan ikahiya. 'Yung kurapsyon... 'yun ang dapat ikinahihiya..."

He added that people should be ashamed of the wrongdoings of mankind and particularly mentioned about corruption.

During the mass, Tagle also urged the devotees to thank God for giving them good health and good weather.

He said Filipinos should be thankful like the Nazarene devotees, who he said show much faith because they believe God will not abandon them.

Tagle recalled one devotee telling him in 2012 that he went to the procession despite authorities' warnings at the time of a terrorist plot to disrupt the festivities.

At the time, he said the devotee felt that if he would die that day, he was returning the favor of Christ who died for him.

"'Bakit ako aatras? Si Hesus pinasan ang ating hirap hanggang kamatayan, bakit hindi ko haharapin ang kamatayan para sa Kaniya? 'Yan ang deboto. Naunawaan niya, narinig niya, nadama niya ang pagibig ganito na lamang ang pagibig ng Diyos," he said.

Also, Tagle urged devotees to pray, follow Christ, and be witnesses to God's love.

Meanwhile, the Manila archbishop reminded the devotees to pray for the victims of disasters, including super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and last year's magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu.

"Ang hindi nakakalimot sa Diyos hindi makakalimot sa kapwa kasi ganiyan ang Diyos sa atin, hindi tayo kinakalimutan kaya ang tugon natin sa Kaniya hindi kita malimot," he said.

He said this year's festivities challenge the laity to pray, follow God, and bear witness to God.

But in praying, he said Filipinos should show they do not forget.

Photos by John Carlo Cahinhinan

True meaning of devotion

Meanwhile, a church official said the devotees of the Black Nazarene should learn the true meaning of devotion following the commotion that happened during the mass at the Quirino grandstand Thursday morning.

Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) said that devotees should learn every virtues of the Church particularly the value of patience since despite all the security measure provided by the authorities, they were still able to break the safety barrier surrounding the venue while the mass is still going.

"Ang panagawan sa mga deboto ay una maging mahinahon at saka intindhin natin ang iba ang pa tao na nasa paligid natin. Halos lahat gusto makahawak… marami pa talagang kailangan ituro sa deboto," Ignacio said.

He said devotees should also learn the importance of the Holy Mass.

"Marami pa tayong kailangang gawin at ituro sa mga deboto tungkol sa kahalagahan ng misa," the Quiapo Church rector said.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Manila Police District (MPD) deployed more than 6,000 personnel for the security of the grand procession and around 400 at the grandstand's vicinity.

Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Radio Veritas, also tried to calm the crowd by urging them to participate in singing mass hymns but the devotees turned rowdy and started destroying the security barriers.

VIPs led by Tagle, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino were escorted out the grandstand when the devotees finally took over in the altar.

John Paul Paras, a member of Hijos del Nazareno, said that some of the young devotees who allegedly started the commotion didn't take the devotion seriously and only doing it for fun and recreation.

"'Yung mga deboto na nakita ninyo kanina mukang hindi siniseryoso, para sa kanila parang laro lang ito," Paras.

Unlike the chaotic scenario in Manila, Cagayan de Oro City’s version of the celebration was peaceful and organized, with an estimated 10,000 of devotees who joined the Black Nazarene procession.

There was no reported incidents of injuries or persons passing out due to heat or with the number of people. (With HDT/John Carlo Cahinhinan/JK/Sunnex)

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