Saturday, January 10, 2009


Like most grand events in Manila, yesterday's fiesta in Quiapo -- highlighted by the Black Nazarene parade -- was not without drama; this one was a case of the peoples' will versus that of the organizers'.

The intent of the latter was to create the safest route possible for all the participants and spectators as the Black Nazarene is paraded from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta
back to Quiapo Church. A noble intention, indeed; however, the local folks would hear none of it. They demanded the parade takes its usual, traditional route even if some streets along the way may not be as wide as Rizal and Recto Avenues.

They also argued that those who experienced serious injuries and even death in the past years were either drunk and foolhardy, or had simply overestimated their physical abilities to withstand the grueling task of pulling the rope while being literally crushed on all sides by their fellow barefoot devotees.

The organizers
remained adamant; seemingly indifferent to the religious and cultural traditions held high by the local folks. In the end, the seething locals were left without any other recourse but to snatch the Black Nazarene from the newly-planned parade route -- as soon as it crossed over the MacArthur Bridge from Plaza Lawton. And they did!

A large number of Quiapo residents -- longtime devotees wearing white ribbons tied around their foreheads -- overwhelmed the
visiting devotees who were pulling the ropes that moved the Black Nazarene cart. Grabbing the leading part of the ropes, the locals redirected the flow of the parade to their liking -- generally, back to its usual route that has been the tradition for many decades.

The authorities on the scene immediately decided to no longer oppose the will of the local folks so as to diffuse a volatile situation. The parade then proceeded peacefully without any incident of death as in the past years. There were reports, however, of minor cuts and abrasions on the feet of some devotees, as well as cases of fainting spells due to sheer exhaustion.

Incidentally, thousands of spectators and several media television crews along the new route were sorely disappointed upon realizing that no parade was ever heading their way. On the other hand, the residents on the old route and their fiesta visitors were ecstatic.

Minors are discouraged from joining the Black Nazarene feast parade, which has traditionally been marred by injuries and even death. Despite these frightful facts, going barefoot to pull one of the ropes of the cart that carries the Black Nazarene is deemed an honorable rite of passage by many Metro Manila youngsters
. Longtime devotees take pride in having started when they were merely 14 or 15 years of age.

For some Quiapo kids, they join the parade early in the morning and for as long as they could tolerate its physical demands; returning to their respective neighborhood afterwards to take a much needed break. They would rejoin the parade wherever it might happen to be -- to insinuate themselves with crude force back into a crowd pulling the cart that is sometimes coursing with perilous asymmetrical movements.

The younger kids often go with their elders to join the parade but situate themselves a safe distance behind the Black Nazarene cart, while some remain on their particular block; keeping an eye out for passing celebrities. Supposedly, quite a number of them happen to be devotees such as Jomi Teotico of the Pinoy Fear Factor.

The parade could last for more than 12 hours; hence, not every one who join is able to withstand the entire duration. There are those who join for only as long as they could physically manage, while others do so for only a few minutes, such as some politicians who do it more for the photo opportunity.

There is also the faithful lot, joining the parade only during the late afternoon or early evening hours
due to work or family obligation constraints.

The video below shows the procession at around 7:30 pm as it passed the corner of Guzman and Morillo Streets. I realized that the only way I could get as close as possible to those pulling the ropes of the Black Nazarene cart would be at such spot (a narrow side street) and at such time.

Nonetheless, notice how some people tried to squeeze through in order to be able to pull the rope, and the grim persistence etched on the faces of some devotees who remained pulling the ropes, even though appearing to be at the brink of collapse. Take note as well of those who climb over peoples' shoulders just to get on the cart and touch the Black Nazarene statue or the cross with their towels.

Also a common sight during the parade, which was captured by this video, was that of residents offering free water and bread to the exhausted devotees.

The cart of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is followed by a number of replicas owned by various groups of devotees from Metro Manila and the provinces. Some opt to participate in the parade from start to finish, while others for only a few hours. Every year, many devotees start camping out on Plaza Miranda the night before the feast.

Without a doubt, with devotees coming in droves to participate in the celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene, the Quiapo Fiesta is regarded as Manila's most heavily attended event.

all images © 2009 Señor Enrique

Related links:

Cardinal to lead Friday’s Black Nazarene feast - CBCP News

Red Cross: 229 treated at Nazarene feast - Inquirer

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I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!




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posted by Señor Enrique at 9:53 AM


Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wishing everyone abundant blessings for the new year!

Been experiencing problems with my ISP; thus, until it's resolved my online presence remains erratic. Also would like to apologize for my not having been able to respond to my emails.

This article should have been posted late last night, but unable to so until now.

My fondest regards to everyone!

January 10, 2009 9:51 PM  

Blogger mgaputonimimi said...

welcome back sir!

whoa... snatched? i havent been watching tv lately.. kaya di ko alam... thanks for sharing this info.. grabe pala..

January 10, 2009 10:05 PM  

Blogger Lola said...

Welcome back, Eric. It was lonely without your posts in the blog kingdom.

Wow, talaga naman. I know the Black Nazarene, who is the patron saint of my mother, is very miraculous, pero nakakatakot naman 'yan. I intend to visit the church when I get back to the Phil. (in 2 weeks) so I hope hindi ganyan kagulo.

As usual, this post is very informative and entertaining.

Happy New Year to you and may we all have good health, peace and prosperity throughout the year.

January 11, 2009 12:41 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

Welcome back to bogging Senyor Eric.

Ano to another people's power...

January 11, 2009 10:14 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

After watching the video, I found the atmosphere more Rio carnival-like! Where's the respect and pious observation went. I remember as a youngster that such prusisyon, reverence was strictly observed. People [Manongs and Manangs] following such carosa are holding their rosaries and candles and praying...

January 11, 2009 10:38 AM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

Hello Senyor! Glad you're back!

Whoa, there was a tremendous crowd indeed. We might have bumped on each other as I was there at the same time you were taking video of the parade. Great post!

January 11, 2009 10:47 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Great to have you back Eric !

The feast of the Black Nazarene is one of my favorite festivals in the is just breath taking... it always blows me away.

Will post some pictures soon...

January 11, 2009 11:39 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hola Senor!

Your post on the Nazareno feast has got to be the most unique in terms of perspective. What broadsheet do you write for?

Viva Senor Nazareno!

Bravo Senor Enrique!

Gabriel Sanchez
born in Quiapo, now living in Milan

January 11, 2009 12:17 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

All the best of 2009 to you Eric!

Welcome back! We your fans missed you.

Great post, reminds me of my late father's panata for Senor Nazareno. The Senor, during His "ronda" wouldn't allow any misfortune to happen, heavy rain or tragedy, but does not like changes of any kind. Los Veteranos Hijos de La Senor Nazareno knows & for these, they went on to the old procession route. Veteranos, want to stick to original plans & are scared on alterations, The Senor might not like it, baka "castigo" ang abutin ng Pilipinas. Some Veteranos said changes were made during the "pasan" of 1940, which caused WW II & "pasan" of 1968, 270 persons were killed as a result of an earthquake, when a six-storey building in Binondo, Ruby Tower collapsed. These are just some of many "pamahiin" of the Veteranos.

Remember my comment on...

"...The forever route of the procession of The Senor Nazareno, this day traces all those side streets in the Quiapo families who gave the biggest contributions. From around Plaza Miranda to Villlalobos, to Echague, right to Gomez, right to Carriedo, left to Evangelista, to Quezon Blvd. & left under Quezon Brd., to Globo de Oro, streets behind Times theater on Quezon Blvd. To Barbosa, Escaldo, Norzagaray, R. Hidalgo, Farnecio, Duque de Alba, San Rafael, Plaza del Carmen, Raon, Mendoza, back to R. Hidalgo, Echague, Plaza Miranda & back to Quiapo Church - as far as I remember my Father told me. Somewhere at the same spot, every procession, in one of these streets same thing will happen, a "problem," the Senor will almost take a fall from the shoulders of the "Hijos de La Senor Nazareno."

Anyway, this procession went well & organized. I also saw securities, on the "carosa" of The Senor, preventing devotees to climb on the "carosa."

Great pictures Eric & well covered, many thanks indeed for sharing!
ka tony

January 11, 2009 12:22 PM  

Blogger Edmund said...

salamat sa iyong pagbabalik...

malapit na piyesta ng tundo!!!

January 11, 2009 5:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh geeez, I was a red cross volunteer in Quiapo fiesta'99, it was amazing and I miss the red cross team and the memories Quiapo Fiesta and other volunteering experiences!

January 12, 2009 4:50 AM  

Blogger Unknown said...

welcome back, Eric! i had goosebumps while watching the crowd of devotees on TV. good to know there were no casualties this year.

wishing you the best in 2009!

January 12, 2009 12:47 PM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

glad to see you're back in blogging world. this is one post i was waiting for from you. i knew that you cover the feast of the nazarene. i guess the traditional route should be kept, eh? i have never seen one or been in one. someday i hope before i get too old.

January 13, 2009 1:15 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never realized that these devotees are actually barefoot ! I actually avoided this event coz the traffic was diabolical back then but probably worse these days :(

I know many who go to this procession with the hope of atonement for their sins, that if you touch the statue or even carry the cart, blessings will be on your way. Tradition never dies it seems :)

January 13, 2009 11:17 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WB Senor Enrique!

What's the mystery behind the Black Nazarene?

Is this the Pinoy Catholic version of the "hajj".

Could this be a clue of what Filipinos were 400 years ago?

January 13, 2009 7:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woohoo!! You're back!! Happy New Year and looking forward to your wonderful posts.

This post took me back to the time when I found myself in Quiapo (sa Illes de Tulles) not knowing that it was the feast of the Black Nazarene. I was oblivious of the date because I was so busy and I was actually buying stuff for an order I had. I was wondering why there were so many people barefoot so I dared ask one of the tinderas. She snickered when she told me that it was that day!! Alam mo para akong kidlat na nawala doon.

January 13, 2009 9:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Senor! Na-miss ka ng mga fans mo kasama na ko 'don :-)

As always, a well written account of a cultural and religious event that is uniquely Filipino.

Looking forward for more great posts this 2009!

January 14, 2009 11:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was also there eric, but for just a few minutes. was there around 3pm i think, took some photos, and went to manila hotel for a wedding rehersal... nice sets... :)

here's my take...

January 15, 2009 9:58 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

hey, you're back! Again, thank you very much for an in-depth account of the Black Nazarene procession! Along with Ka Tony's & JayAshkal's account, I can see that there really is a deep knowledge about keeping a certain spiritual energy going around Manila by taking a definite route. Maybe those are the "ley lines" of Manila! Power points that keep a huge area protected and energized by the spirit as manifested by individual souls. It really made me reflect. I also saw some of the other videos in the YouTube in connection with the Nazareno---without One-ness of spirit, there can be the danger of a huge catastrophic pandemonium! It just goes to proof that there is that One great driving force that puts all men in harmony towards a greater Good! Viva Senor Nazareno!

January 15, 2009 10:21 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...



good to see you're around again and posting your wonderful pictures and articles.


January 16, 2009 2:05 AM  

Blogger Daisy said...

Maligayang Bagong Taon Senor Enrique!!!
Happy New Year Eric!

Finally you braved the event! Thank you for sharing your images and video. At first there was fear while I was watching but eventually I realized that it is a tradition to express the spirituality. I cannot help but smile later

Like Sidney indeed I am blown away by the immense spirit emanating from the people-- sa mga namamanatala, hindi talaga biro

I am happy for you Eric to brave the event after all these years that I followed your pre-fiesta blog entries

Thanks to Ka Tony for sharing that trivia about the 'pasan' and the pamahiin about changing routes. I have come to believe that nothing in this world is coincidence-- there usually is connection among thing, people and event-- most esp for one that is energized by the masses!

Expressing your spirituality in the Philippines sometimes can be a contact sport!

Thanks again Eric!

it has been a while since i visited and it was worth it!

January 16, 2009 11:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Mimi!

January 19, 2009 7:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Pat!

It isn't always this crowded in Manila :)

Welcome home ... Wishing you a fun-filled vacation!

January 19, 2009 7:59 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Mario!

I believe the La Naval procession of Santo Domigo Church in Quezon City is still observed with deep reverence.

The Black Nazarene feast, however, attracts so many devotees who want to get close to the cart and/or help pull it, which creates the chaos-like atmosphere.

January 19, 2009 8:02 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Dennis!

I had a late start, but did plan to shoot on that particular spot. Yes, we could've bumped into one another without realizing it because of the many people.

January 19, 2009 8:03 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Sidney!

I bet you got some great shots as always.

January 19, 2009 8:04 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks Gabriel! Glad you enjoyed my post :)

January 19, 2009 8:05 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Ka Tony! The locals insisted on keeping the tradition.

You definitely are more knowledgeable about the parade's route than most Quiapenses I had spoken to :)

There are some streets you mentioned that I'm not familiar with. the names of which may have changed such as Mendoza which is now Guzman. You had just given me something to check out ... hehehe.

Many thanks Ka Tony!

January 19, 2009 8:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Edmund!

Yes, nagsimula ang fiesta ng Tondo last weekend at natapos kahapon. Sayang hindi ko na-cover.

January 19, 2009 8:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The Red Cross volunteers were definitely present on that day, Lindsay!

January 19, 2009 8:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Luna! Wishing the very best as well :)

January 19, 2009 8:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, BW!

And I'd like to think that the power of their belief manifests that which they pray or wish for. Incredible faith these devotees have!

January 19, 2009 8:14 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Mandaragat!

I think it all started when word got around that the Nazarene grants people's wishes. However, as I've mentioned in my response to BW, the power of belief at times manifests wishes into realities.

January 19, 2009 8:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Cookie!

You were indeed quite fortunate to have gotten out of that area before the procession.

January 19, 2009 8:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Juleste!

January 19, 2009 8:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Great shots you took, Lino!

I had a late start on that day, otherwise, I would have covered the foot of the bridge area where I was told by a few Quiapenses was where the planned to snatch the cart that carried the Nazarene.

January 19, 2009 8:20 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm not a religious person, Bernadette, but I highly appreciate the faith of the Black Nazarene devotees. It is truly an experience to witness their devotion in person.

January 19, 2009 8:21 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Palma!

January 19, 2009 8:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Daisy!

I owe it to the local folks of Quiapo whom I had gotten to know through the years. They were the ones who told me of the plan to snatch the Nazarene cart beforehand, including where they would do it. They also helped me find a safe spot to shoot the video of the procession.

January 19, 2009 8:26 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Finally, Photo Cache, I got to see the procession and even managed to take some videos of it :)

January 19, 2009 9:39 AM  

Blogger Francesca said...

it had been an experience taking the video, senor enrique.

In realistic view, I dont think having the parade makes the life of a devotee better in terms of spiritual wisdom.

I was a catholic before. The teachings of God is not to revere any images , instead to go direct to HIM in prayer in secret, solemn, alone, follow HIS examples and be directed by His spirit of love, peace,kindness etc etc.

I feel the Black Nazarene parade is more of a tradition to pass a day in the feast, not of religious matter true christians should follow...

And for the polictics and showbiz people to be there, well, i keep my thoughts to myself.

I feel saddened of those who were hurt during the parade.
They must have been sincere of their devotions...

January 20, 2009 3:44 AM  

Blogger Nicky said...

The organizers had the Senor Nazarenos route in wide streets but fanatic devotees reverted back to the old and crowded sides...

There is a superstition that if the ropes of the carosa of Nazareno are not pulled straight, the country will have a hard time for the whole year...

Symbolically... everyone wants to steer the image to its route... That is how sometimes, a society's cultural traditions reflect on their behaviors... I assume next time, less hurt in obseving the feast...

January 20, 2009 10:28 AM  

Anonymous Damon Nelson said...

Your blog is very interesting. You have depicted the culture of Manila through your photos. Great job.

March 31, 2009 1:25 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,
I hope you are doing well! Hey we miss you!!! Anyway pahabol lang...
Remember this year's January - BLACK NAZARENE FEAST? I mentioned...
"Los Veteranos Hijos de La Senor Nazareno knows & for these, they went on to the old procession route. Veteranos, want to stick to original plans & are scared on alterations, The Senor might not like it, baka "castigo" ang abutin ng Pilipinas. Some Veteranos said changes were made during the "pasan" of 1940, which caused WW II & "pasan" of 1968, 270 persons were killed as a result of an earthquake, when a six-storey building in Binondo, Ruby Tower collapsed. These are just some of many "pamahiin" of the Veteranos."

See what happened "The Ondoy Typhoon" that killed lots of Pinoy & destruction? Sana huwag na muling mangyari ito! I hope you are safe & dry.

Take care Eric,
ka tony

October 03, 2009 12:37 PM  

Blogger John Marvin Tan said...

Hey, your blog is so cool, I hope you guys have some extra time to visit my blog. it's also cool

March 08, 2010 4:15 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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