• Throngs of Devotees turn up for traditional ‘pahalik’

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    HUGE crowds of devotees endured long queues to touch and kiss the foot of the Black Nazarene in the traditional “pahalik (kiss)” that started late Saturday night at the Rizal Park.

    People from all walks of life waited for their turn to get near the venerated image believed to have performed miracles. Most of the devotees held vigil for today’s grand procession or traslacion which will begin at the park.

    Just like in previous years, the “Pahalik sa Poong Nazareno” drew thousands who came to either pray for a miracle or in thanksgiving for a blessing received. Devotees started lining up at 11 p.m. on Saturday, with the crowd thinning when the pahalik was stopped at 3 a.m. It resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday.

    Gloria Villapania McCarthy, 69, travelled all the way from Pangasinan province to participate in the annual religious festival.

    McCarthy, who used to work in California, joined the long line of devotees at 8 a.m.Sunday. She said touching and sending a prayer to the Black Nazarene is worth her long travel to Manila.

    Like many of the devotees, McCarthy is praying for good health.

    DAY OF DEVOTION The Black Nazarene will take center stage during the slow and long procession around Manila today that is expected to draw at least 15 million devotees. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    DAY OF DEVOTION The Black Nazarene will take center stage during the slow and long procession around Manila today that is expected to draw at least 15 million devotees. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    Marianne Salazar of Calamba, Laguna, has been a devotee of the Nazarene for five years. She said that since 2012, she had joined the pahalik and the procession.

    Among those who fell in line was a good samaritan, Maribeth Dumlao, 40, who distributed bread and bottled water to her fellow devotees.

    Dumlao, who is pregnant, said it was her first time to distribute snacks. She said her pregnancy was a blessing from the Black Nazarene after suffering a miscarriage last year.

    Dumlao said distributing food and water was one of her ways to say “thank you” to the Black Nazarene because of the overflowing blessings she and her family had received. She vowed to do the same next year, but she and her team will coordinate with Church officials so that their distribution of food will be more orderly.

    “Pa-thank you na rin [ito](It’s our way to say thank you),” said Dumlao, whose husband also joins the pahalik every year.

    Volney Adviento, a Nazarene devotee for 20 years, said he always joins the traslacion and the pahalik to thank God for the blessings he received.

    He said based on his experience, believers of the Black Nazarene are self-disciplined and do not need the police or the military to keep them in check.

    Adviento, who hails from Cavite, said they respect the traslacion by listening to the “command” of the people who are in the “andas” or carriage bearing the image of the Nazarene.

    The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority estimated that as of Sunday afternoon, some 25,000 people lined up for the annual “pahalik.”

    WITH A REPORT FROM NELSON BADILLA

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