The Unwavering Christian Faith of the Filipinos
By Apolinario Villalobos
The year 2013 saw an estimated 9 million devotees that flocked around the Black Nazarene, this year, 2014, the number significantly ballooned to an estimated 12 million. Interviewed curious foreigners, especially, those from Europe disclosed that the number of the Christian faithful in their respective countries is steadily dwindling by the years. Christ’s cross was planted on one of the islands of the Philippines only in 1521, while the Christendom’s controversy is already heating up in Europe. Those circumstances show that the Filipinos did not waver in upholding their Christian faith which gets even stronger through the years.
Some call the unabashed display of faith during the Black Nazarene feast day celebration, fanatical. If fanatical means extreme, this expression of the Filipinos is just right as they have a reason for doing so. Also, if the fanatical non-denouncing of faith of Christians in the face of death, and who later became saints, fanatical, so be it. Jesus Christ as believed to be the Son of God is historically proven to be real, not mythical. The miracles he performed are documented in the Bible which is the basis of other religions. Places and names mentioned in the Bible related to Jesus Christ are verified to be true by archaeologists who tirelessly dig up biblical sites. Unlike other religions which are based on mythology, Christianity is based on history.
Some scoff at the wiping of the Nazarene’s image with towels which are later used to heal sicknesses. But in the Bible, there is an incident where a sick person got healed by kissing the seam of Christ’s garment. Church goers always listen to readings and homilies about the miracles performed by Christ, so how can they be blamed as their faith steadily grew when the priests themselves are telling them about these from the pulpit? How can Christ’s apostles of today go wrong in preaching about the deeds of Christ? All that the doubting Thomases have to do is read the Bible and browse the internet for confirmation of some incidents in that Book.
With new buds of Christianity coming out claiming to be the true religions, there is no question to the fact, that still, they developed from one seed planted by Jesus who remains the essence of their being such. Although, some practices have been scrapped such as veneration of images, these sects still manifest the same fanatical faith in Jesus who provides the way to God, and they use the same reference in preaching – the Bible. And, the same fanaticism is likewise practiced in they way their preaching is done to “bring the waylaid flock back home”.
The Philippines is a fortunate country for having such a resilient people that espouse strong faith in God, steadfast in the way they show their faith to this one God. The country is fortunate that despite the onslaught of modern technologies, this faith has never waivered, on the contrary, grows even stronger that helps weld the Filipinos into one proud race. And, the Black Nazarene feast day celebration that clogs the streets leading to Luneta and Quiapo with millions of devotees, giving goose bumps to observers will go on, especially, with the inclusion this year of the almost forgotten practice of “padungaw” in which the image of the Virgin Mary is displayed as the Black Nazarene passes by the San Sebastian Church on the way back to Quiapo basilica.