TRASLACION 2013: Feast of The Black Nazarene PRIMER

January not only means the start of the year but also the start of the Philippine festivals which are largely followed and before the major regional festivals like Sinulog of Cebu, and Dinagyang of Iloilo, it all starts with the feast of the Black Nazarene that is attended by millions of devotees, including myself, to flock to the dense district of Quiapo and also join in the procession from Luneta to the Quiapo church. 

The feast has been a tradition for more than 400 years and has gone through many challenges and milestones which have been etched into the spirituality of Filipino Catholics. And in every festival, it becomes the most dense place on earth with many of the devotees made a pilgrimage from cities in Metro Manila and even some from  provinces like Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Pampanga. 

The feast of the Black Nazarene is also called Traslacion, which is derived from "transfer" as the original Nazarene image was transferred to its current location, Saint John the Baptist Parish or more popularly known as Quiapo church. And every year, the district festival becomes a national event with news crews all around to cover the event.

It also bring together a lot of personalities, famous and infamous. One may spot politicians (and probably more since its election year), faith healers, people who said to have been "possessed" by the sto nino et al. The classes of the poor, middle, and sometimes the rich (who probably started out small and are long-time devotees) are also there.  

This year the theme of the Feast is:

"DEBOTONG BANAL NG POONG NAZARENO, NANANALIG AT SUMASAKSI"

The devotion to the Black Nazarene during the festival requires a lot of patience, faith, and alertness at some point. As one would travese the thick crowd, it would take you at least half hour to get in the church. As hourly masses are conducted on the feast day, having millions in a small district promted organizers to set up LED screens outside the church as many can't go inside but wish to hear mass. And one should also be alert always as pickpockets would seize the opportunity to victimize devotees. As a suggestion, just bring the things you just need and not bring valuable items. Traffic will also be a nightmare to commuters as many of the major roads in Quiapo and Luneta are closed as well as schools in the procession route. If going to these locations, prepare for a very long walk, and don't forget to bring an umbrella. 

As an engineer, it also comes to mind that there is also a lot of science, technology, and management is applied in festivals. From the design of carriage of the Black Nazarene, to the tensile strength of the bridges that will be passed during the procession (because of concerns that it could possibly collapse due to the weight and strength of the bridge), the flow of people and the estimation of the arrival of the Nazarene to the Quiapo church, and other safety measures that will prevent injuries and even death during the feast. 

It is actually my 10th year as a devotee, though never tried to be a "namamasan" of rope bearer of the Narazene carriage, I celebrate the feast day with mass, prayers and some documentation of the sights of Traslacion as shown in my blog posts of the previous years' celebration. Indeed, more than a devotion, its an adventure with something you will realize and reflect with each experience. 

For more information here is the schedule of events during for the feast day. And check their website www.quiapochurch.com for live streaming and other information.















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