THERE are things in life that our own naked eye cannot see yet we choose to believe in their existence and power to make anything possible. These things that we consider as abstract, intangible, and immeasurable like love, kindness, and faith are the things that we give more regard to in our everyday lives.
Filipinos are widely known as devout Catholics and our culture and tradition is greatly influenced by the Catholic beliefs and rituals. The annual celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene today (January 9) ultimately unveils the vast amount of faith of its millions of followers who attend the yearly parade despite all the inconveniences and risks. Devotees who walk barefoot brave through all the dangers of squeezing through a massive crowd in a vow to stroke the Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno and lift all prayers and intentions to the miraculous holy relic. The procession held every January 9 is a commemoration of the Black Nazarene's Traslación or transfer to the Minor Basilica in Quiapo.
For this year, for the safety of the millions of devotees' set to attend the procession, the route has been modified. Instead of usually passing through the Jones Bridge, the Traslacion will now be routed using the Ayala Bridge recommended by the Department of Public Works and Highways as the safest bridge that can accommodate the millions of those who will be part of the procession.
This year, police will also form a 2,100-strong "andas wall" to barricade the procession and facilitate the movement of the Nazareno. National Capital Region Police Office chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas said during a press briefing on January 6 that this will be done in a bid to quicken the pace of the procession. Police deployments along the procession route shall also prevent crowds and bystanders to join the procession and come in from the front while as the Black Nazarene passes by. Sinas said that going closer and climbing the carriage will still be allowed but only from the rear. Last year, the Traslacion lasted for about 21 hours.
As usual, work and classes in Manila will be suspended in line with the annual procession of the Black Nazarene. According to Mayor Isko Moreno's Executive Order, "work in the city government will also be suspended "in view of the large volume of devotees expected to participate in the Traslacion and in consideration of public order and safety as well as reduction of traffic congestion during this occasion."
I go back to the mystery and power of one's faith. It is this faith so immense and sincere that fuels the Black Nazarene devotees to sacrifice and offer their lives just to fulfill their annual devotion either in thanksgiving or in special intention. This devoutness and religious zeal is the very essence of the annual procession, solemnizing the passion of Jesus Christ as he carried the cross before his crucifixion.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos said: "As we embark on our day-to-day earthly pilgrimage towards heaven, the roads we take could be rough and rugged, just like the route of the Black Nazarene procession. Along the way, we are battered, bruised, and sometimes, broken. But we stand up and continue to carry our loads. There are sacrifices to make. We suffer. Yet, we don't give up. We stand up and continue with our journey. And looking at the Poong Nazareno, we realize in silence, that Jesus bore everything for us with love and with mercy."