Millions of Black Nazarene devotees have been flocking to Quiapo Church since Friday not only to attend the Novena Masses but to look for amulets which they believe will protect them or give them special powers.
Besides the Black Nazarene, Quiapo is known for its stalls of amulets, locally known as “agimat,” “bertud,” or “anting-anting,” which devotees believe could protect them from harm and sickness, or bring them good luck.
Boy Mutya, 65, said people go to his stall to buy stones and bracelets. A Quiapo vendor for more than 20 years, Mutya said that the bracelets he has been selling protect their wearers from a deadly curse.
A bracelet made from the “sinukuan” tree in Mindoro province, is believed to protect the wearer from arthritis, heart disease, and even diabetes.
Meanwhile, amulets made by Mangyans bring luck especially to gamblers.
Some of Mutya’s talismans allegedly make their owners invisible and immune to bullets. Other amulets can also hypnotize people, or make them see impending harm.
However, most devotees believe that their source of luck and protection is the Black Nazarene itself.
Arnel Hiyos, 38, of Sampaloc, Manila, said he has been carrying the Black Nazarene for more than a decade. A member of the Nuestra Padre Jesus Nazareno (NPJN), Hiyos said that his devotion to the Senior Nazareno helped him turn away from sin and protected him from sickness.
George Abito, 68, of Las Piñas City, who goes attends Mass at Quiapo Church everyday, said that the Black Nazarene is his shield from illness.
“My devotion to the Black Nazarene protects me from sickness. At my age, I can no longer join the procession, but I come here daily to pray inside the church,” he said.
But for Thelma Real, 42, of Caloocan City, the Nazarene protected her family from all harm. She claimed that the Poong Nazareno spared their house from the blaze that broke out in their neighborhood.
With the surge of devotees, 27-year-old vendor Jennifer Ramos of Tondo, Manila, said sales are better this year. Statues of the Nazarene and Santo Niño are being sold from P150 to P450.
“Just today, I sold around 20 pieces already,” she said.
Church and government officials are preparing for the feast of the Black Nazarene on Thursday, which is expected to draw 12 million devotees.