Leap of faith

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

AN ESTIMATED count of 12 million people filled the streets of Manila in participating in the 18-hour procession of the traslacion (official translation) of the image of the Black Nazarene.

It is celebrated every 9th of January attracting millions of devotees from all over the nation and is considered to be one of the major events that kicked-off of this year.

Cagayan de Oro is where the third replica of the Black Nazarene from Quiapo resides, also celebrated the Feast of the Black Nazarene. It was attended by the hundreds of thousands of residents of the city and people from other places in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.


Third replica

There have been different versions of where the image of the Black Nazarene actually came from. Nazareno Parish Priest Fr. Bong Polinar says the dark-wooden sculpture came from Quiapo where the original life-sized sculpture houses.

There are three major images found in Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene: one that is not removed from the Church, one that is used for the procession, and one that is currently enshrined in the Nazareno Parish Church since 2009.

During the Golden Jubilee of Nazareno Parish Church celebrated on December 8, 2008, former parish priest Monsigñor Rey Monsanto borrowed few items from Quiapo Church prior to the handover of the replica.

Later, the priests decided to give it and papers were arranged for the transfer of the replica. The Philippine Air Force’s C130 brought the image and was placed in the Cathedral Church for a week where masses were conducted to ‘bless’ and at the same time to welcome the image to the city.

A procession was done from the Cathedral Church to the Nazareno Parish Church. All came clean by 2009.

A 9-day Novena with a mass is normally done as the feast of a religious activity starts. This time, the Nazareno Parish Church encourages attendees to have their confessions to acknowledge their wrongful doings and for purity’s sake.

The Parish does not fail in this one as currently, many are visibly doing this.

Because of numerous requests, the Nazareno parish allows borrowing of the image. Recently, they lent it to a church in barangay Dansolihon and will lend it to a church also in barangay Kisolon in Sumilao town in Bukidnon.

The real viva

With people pushing and pulling one another for 18 hours, some passed out, some lost air, some got bruises and some got lost. The jostling took its toll as more than 2,000 mostly women were injured and hurt during the procession in Manila.

In Cagayan de Oro, the procession was not that chaotic compared to Manila.

Its route started from Kolambog, Lapasan – Agora – Licoan – Velez and back to Nazareno church.

Kagay-anon devotees ‘went with the flow’ as they followed where the image went. “Ang pagbaklay sa mga tao sa prusisyon kay simbolo sa pag uban nila sa suffering of Christ,” Fr. Polinar said.

“Mao na ang time nga maka-reflect sila ug ang pag apply nila (while accompanying of the Suffering of Christ) sa ilang mga kinabuhi [...] Ang pag-adto ni Kristo sa calvary kay mao na ang theme sa procession gyud,” he added.

Fireworks wowed the devotees and some people who watched nearby when it passed by Licoan. A dance to the drumbeats was also performed by various people. Others were clapping and waving their hands in the air. Most of the hijos, the people who guard the sacred image, were shouting ‘viva.’

All people held their candles throughout the procession

“Gi-make sure namo na dili parehas sa Quiapo. Maka-throw sila ug towels but the touching of the image is strictly not allowed,” Fr. Polinar said.

Policemen were deployed in the areas where the procession passed. Nobody was injured and hurt.

The hijos danced and performed as they entered the Nazareno parish as they brought back the Black Nazarene.


An increase number of people who joined the feast here in the city were evident as last year’s was only 50,000 and doubled this year. It included the number of those who joined the procession and those who began going to the church as the novena began on December 31.

The Black Nazarene replica in the city has been made possible to cater to the devotees in the Visayas and Mindanao to reduce the volume of devotees who go to Manila.

However, in the face of numerous adversities, even in Manila, there was an influx of devotees. Aside from the residents of Manila, people from Leyte, Cebu, Zamboanga and other affected areas in the recent catastrophes jostled with the crowd.

Men and women would step on one another just to cling on or touch the cross of the Black Nazarene.

The local devotees are, but, far from this scenario.

Fr. Polinar said: “We want to teach the proper way and understanding and good catechisms to the people that will not contradict the teachings and doctrines of the Church.”

Seemingly the devotees cut across all the social class. They all come from different walks of life.

The rich, poor, old or young walked with the Black Nazarene along the streets of the city.

He explained that the Black Nazarene has its drawing power hence the growth of number. And even before the image came, the devotees are adamant on their faith. The image is just an ‘additional inspiration’ that developed their devotions.

Some say faith has no boundaries and so grappling and jostling are options. Some say it’s idolatry as the behavior of the crowd shows. Some gets baffled of the whole idea why suffer under the sun. Some contradicts that it is a belief that requires sacrifices. ( Alyssa Rikka C. Clenuar/MUST Intern)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 12, 2014.


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