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Friday, January 13, 2017


"Di mahulugang karayom" (literally means, 'could not drop a needle'), this is how to described the overwhelming crowd of devotees joining the grand procession ('translacion', Spanish term for procession) every time the Philippines celebrates the feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila City, Metro Manila. Perhaps, this is one of the most popular and sacrificial solemn events in the country, held annually every 9th of January. 

Throng of devotees settled at the Quezon Blvd during the feast day

During the fiesta vigil, thousands/millions of people swarming the Quirino Grand Stand and line-up for the so-called pahalik (kissing), followed by the Translacion or Procession on the feast day itself. The statue is carried by an "andas" (carriage) being push and pull by men shouting "Viva Senor" while the crowd is trying to touch the statue. Most of the crowd normally go on barefoot as a symbol of humility while following the movement of the procession. The procession takes around 20 hours on a 7 km. trail route from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church. 

The festivity is to commemorate the first solemn transfer or translacion of the life-size statue of the Black Nazarene from where it was enshrined in the high altar of the Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino popularly known as "Recoletos Church", in Intramuros to Minor Basilica in Quiapo on January 9, 1767. 

The statue of the Black Nazarene, known to Filipinos as 'Mahal na Itim na Nazareno', in English 'Our Father Jesus the Nazarene', is a life-size wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying a cross, is believed to be miraculous by the Filipino Christian Catholics. Historically, the statue was brought to the Philippines from Acapulco, Mexico via a galleon ship. It is believed that the dark color of the image was charred by fire on the ship prior to its arrival in the country. 

The Black Nazarene is one of the most popular objects of devotion in the country, aside from the image of the of Santo Nino (Child Jesus). On the other hand, a similar image called Cristo Negro is venerated in Portobelo, Panama every October 21st of the year. 

Approximately there are 15 to 18 millions of people attended the procession coming from different parts of the country this recently concluded 2017 feast of the Black Nazarene. (source).

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Currently, the Philippines is the 5th largest Christian country in the world (source) with about more than 90% of its population being adherent. The third largest Catholic country in the world and one of the two predominantly Roman Catholic nation in Asia other than East Timor. 

According to study conducted by Pew Research Center, 81% of the Filipino Christians are Catholic. 

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