• Hundreds injured in Nazarene procession


    Over 200 people were injured during the frenzied celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday but authorities declared the annual mammoth procession of the miraculous image “peaceful and solemn.”

    GRAND PROCESSION Hundreds of thousands of devotees surround the Black Nazarene as the Traslacion kicks off at Rizal Park. PHOTO BY ROGER RANADA

    GRAND PROCESSION Hundreds of thousands of devotees surround the Black Nazarene as the Traslacion kicks off at Rizal Park. PHOTO BY ROGER RANADA

    Three women were almost trampled to death and were rushed to hospital when they fell after attempting to climb on the “Andas” or carriage bearing the ebony image of the Nazarene, Johnny Yu, head of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said. Several devotees also collapsed and were attended to by medical personnel along the route of the procession.

    The Philippine Red Cross attended to more than 100 persons with medical emergencies, including 46 devotees who suffered from high blood pressure.

    Seven devotees were taken to the Ospital ng Maynila after steel railings collapsed on them.

    Officials declared the Traslacion or the transfer of the Black Nazarene from Rizal Park to the Quiapo Church “generally peaceful” amid fears of a terror attack.

    The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said more than a million devotees joined the procession, escorting the venerated statue on Manila’s sizzling streets barefoot.

    “We have not recorded any untoward incident with regards to the procession,” NCRPO director Oscar Albayalde said.

    Over 5,000 police and troops provided security to the religious parade that started at around 5:30 a.m.
    Telecommunication signals were jammed, and authorities banned the carrying of firearms and drinking of liquor for security reasons.

    Deep devotion

    IN GOOD HANDS A Nazarene devotee who fainted during the annual procession is carried to a first aid station. Hundreds of pilgrims who joined the Traslacion were treated by medical staff and personnel of the Philippine Red Cross. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

    IN GOOD HANDS A Nazarene devotee who fainted during the annual procession is carried to a first aid station. Hundreds of pilgrims who joined the Traslacion were treated by medical staff and personnel of the Philippine Red Cross. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

    Masses of Catholic devotees braved sizzling weather and terrorist fears to touch a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ that is believed to have miraculous powers.

    The annual parade is one of the world’s biggest displays of Catholic devotion and showcases the Philippines’ status as the Church’s bastion in Asia.

    Many Filipinos believe touching or getting close to the life-sized statue, which was brought to the Philippines in the early 1600s when the nation was a Spanish colony, can lead to the healing of otherwise incurable ailments and other good fortune.

    “If you seek a favor it will be granted as long as you pray hard,” Lolit Gonzales, 45, said as she sat on the sidewalk after taking her turn pulling on a thick length of rope that moved the statue’s carriage forward.

    The Manila manicurist attributed the healing two years ago of a painful right knee, which her doctor had told her required surgery and medicines that she could not afford, to taking part in the procession at that time.

    Gonzales said she had returned on Monday to ensure her knee ailment did not recur, since she had no health insurance and was the only breadwinner in her family.

    The pilgrims walked Manila’s concrete streets as the temperature climbed above 30 degrees Celsius as a sign of penance and to imitate a barefoot Jesus carrying the cross before he was crucified.

    The statue is called the Black Nazarene because of its charred color, believed to have occurred when it survived a fire aboard a ship when being brought to the Philippines from Mexico.

    Replica crosses and other religious icons and images followed the cross carriage six abreast, borne on the back of trucks, atop pedicabs and manually drawn carriages in an extremely slow procession that was expected to last into the night.

    Such extreme forms of worship are a hallmark of the Philippines which is 80 percent Roman Catholic, a legacy of four centuries of Spanish colonialism that ended in 1898.

    Praying constantly

    President Rodrigo Duterte joined the Catholic faithful in celebrating the annual feast of the Black Nazarene and urged devotees to fervently pray for the country.

    In his message, Duterte said his administration deeply empathizes with the faith of Nazarene devotees who “resort to sacrifice every single day, while still finding a piece of themselves to honor God.”

    “We are neither exhausted by praying constantly nor do we ever falter in expressing our religious fervor. Despite the passage of time, we relentlessly fight against injustice and lies; abuse of power; and the corruption that eats up the soul,” he said.

    The President acknowledged that God’s image was recognized in the Nazarene, who “carried his cross to redeem the rest of humankind.”

    “In His tears, we see our sorrow; and in His agony, we find our solace and strength to triumph against the most insurmountable odds,” he said.

    Duterte also recognized the faith of millions of devotees in the form of “gratitude, petition, and sacrifice.”

    “Good fortunes are usually borne out of hard work and perseverance. Prayers are likely answered because we do not give up or get tired from asking God for the fulfillment of our heart’s desires. Such is the phenomenal expression of faith of the millions of devotees in the form of gratitude, petition, and sacrifice shown in the image of the Black Nazarene every feast day on the 9th of January every year,” he said.


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    1. At the risk of being preachy/judgmental, people like Samuel simply quote what the prophet Jeremiah said was what the Lord said. And leave it at that. Comment moderators find no reason to moderate what “the Lord said.” What is there to moderate anyway? Knowing that Samuel would never quote something the Lord said that would seem to contradict what “the Lord said”, I tried to urge him to quote anyway. So here is something to help people of faith or no faith to honor the Creator who endowed all of us with the gift of reasoning.

      The Prophet Jeremiah said that the Lord was going to destroy the Temple if the people persisted in not believing their Lord and King. He urged them to put their trust in the Lord who was their King, and not on foreign kings who were poised to destroy them if they persisted in trusting the Lord. You see their dilemma? The people chose to call Jeremiah a “false” prophet to deal with their dilemma. They based their decision to deride Jeremiah as a false prophet on the common knowledge that their Lord and King was actually in their Temple! How dare Jeremiah say that the Lord was going to destroy the Temple! Now you can see why Jeremiah was hated and persecuted. The Babylonians not only destroyed the Temple but sent the people as captives to Babylon. One of the famous people who derided Jeremiah and became a captive in Babylon was Ezekiel who was called to be a prophet in Babylon!

      The first 5 books of the bible comprise the Pentateuch or Torah which was “the” bible then. Numbers is the 4th book.
      The incident in the desert recounted in chapter 21 is rather confusing. Why were the people bitten by the fiery serpent? Why did the Lord tell Moses to make a brazen serpent and raise it on a pole so that those who had been bitten might be saved by looking at the brazen serpent? And why “serpent” of all things?

      Remember the serpent in Genesis who had lied to Adam and Eve? Lying is his trademark. “Father of lies” is the devil. The Hebrews whom the Lord saved from Egypt and brought to wander in the desert with Moses began to call the Lord as a liar. They accused the Lord of having brought them to the desert to kill them! In other words, they accused the Lord as the wily serpent! That is how come fiery serpents were biting them. Talk about self-fulfilling bad thoughts!

      Moving fast to the New Testament where the Lord lived among us as one of us. Note how the people branded the Lord as expelling evil spirits with the power of the devil. Note how the Lord ended up crucified on a pole. Note how people who look at the Lord on the crucifix and express sorrow for their sins experience healing. The Black Nazarene and the power of healing. Instead of being judgmental, try expressing sorrow for sins earnestly and sincerely. Holier-than-thou attitude does not work as it did not work for the pharisees who prided themselves in following the Law “not like this publican.” The Law, by the way, means the Pentateuch or the Torah. The Law that Paul mentions in his letters mean the same. Civil Law as we know it is not the biblical “Law”.

    2. This is what the LORD says:
      “Do not act like the other nations,
      who try to read their future in the stars.
      Do not be afraid of their predictions,
      even though other nations are terrified by them.

      Their ways are futile and foolish.
      They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
      They decorate it with gold and silver
      and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
      so it won’t fall over.

      Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!
      They cannot speak,
      and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.
      Do not be afraid of such gods,
      for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

      LORD, there is no one like You!
      For You are great, and Your Name is full of power.
      Who would not fear You, O King of nations?
      That title belongs to You alone!

      Among all the wise people of the earth
      and in all the kingdoms of the world,
      there is no one like You.

      People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
      The things they worship are made of wood!
      Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
      On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.

      But the God of Israel[fn] is no idol!
      He is the Creator of everything that exists,
      including Israel, His own special possession.
      The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is His name!

      Pack your bags and prepare to leave;
      the siege is about to begin.

      For this is what the LORD says:
      “Suddenly, I will fling out
      all you who live in this land.
      I will pour great troubles upon you,
      and at last you will feel my anger.”

      Jeremiah 10: 2-8; 15-18