“I threw five towels, only one made it back.”
It was my first time to join the Feast of the black Nazarene and it felt like this is Manila with all its residents outside. With around 2.5 million devotees gathered in one place, it isn’t easy to find the nearest restroom. The fuschia shirt I was wearing perfectly blended to the people around me and although it’s hot, it’s amazing how those people defied the scorching heat of Monday.
I arrived at the closed Espana Boulevard at around 2pm with two of my best buddies. We already anticipated that roads will be closed so we brought our bikes with us to get to Quiapo without beating our legs up. But for security concerns, we chose to leave the bikes at the car and proceed to Quiapo Cathedral by foot. Besides, everybody’s walking and I don’t want them to notice the difference of my fuschia shirt from their traditional purple shirts.
The history of the Nazarene happened on May 31st, 1606. The Life-sized black Jesus Christ carrying a cross was loaded on a trade Galleon ship coasting from Acapulco, Mexico. It was believed that the ship caught on fire and burned the Nazarene but since the Holy Image miraculously survived intact and smooth it still reached it’s destination under the care of the priests of a church at Bagumbayan which is now the Luneta Park. Then the Black Nazarene was moved to Quiapo Church which is now it’s home for Decades.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene is done in the Philippines every 9th January, yearly. Hundreds of Thousands of devotees gather from Quirino Grand stand to Quiapo to prove their faith on the Black Nazarene. Many people pulls the carriage of the statue with all of their strength to reach its home while other devotees do their best to climb the carriage and wipe their towels on the Nazarene. This procession is called Traslacion. I know it sounds disastrous but trust me, this happens every year.
I honestly think the procession this year is quite peaceful than the other years. People are more organized and the authority has full control. Last year’s Traslacion was terrible. People climbing and pulling each other and many got hurt. I recall a photo of a someone who made it to the carriage but another devotee pulled his shorts down exposing his butt.
My friends told me that I have to get to the statue and wipe it, but then I saw the crowd almost fighting to get one wipe. I’m not charging in there and expect to have complete limbs when I get out so throwing five towels at the statue hoping the men guarding it will wipe the statue and throws the towels back for me is not a bad idea. At least I got one towel back. With my new experience and a miraculous towel in hand, we left the procession and rest our shoulders to Paracetamol + Ibuprofen.
I sure hope this towel is mine.