Suggestions para sa Pistang Nazareno

SUGGESTIONS PARA SA PISTA NG NAZARENO….

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Dahil pinaniniwalaan ng mga debotong Katoliko na may milagrong mangyayari sa kanila kapag nakahawak man lang sila sa lubid, lalo na sa estatwa ng itim ng Kristo, nakikipagbalyahan sila upang makasampa sa karo at maipahid  ang face towel nila sa mukha nito, o di kaya ay nagkakandaipit sa pagpilit na makasama sa paghila ng lubid….resulta: ang iba ay nadadaganan ng kapwa deboto….kung hindi man mapilay, pag-goodbye sa mundo ang inaabot nila….dahil lang sa…….?

 

UPANG WALANG GULO, DAPAT AY TALIAN ANG BANDANG LIKURAN NG KARO NG ISANG KILOMETRONG LUBID UPANG MAHAWAKAN NG MGA DEBOTO, AT NANG HINDI SILA NAKIKIPAG-AGAWAN SA LUBID NA NASA HARAPAN. KAPAG NANGYARI YAN, SIGURADONG ANG DADAGSAIN AY ANG LIKURAN NG KARO KAYA MAPAPABILIS ANG PAG-USAD NG PROSESYON O TRANSLACION PABALIK SA QUIAPO CHURCH. NANINIWALA DIN LANG SILA SA MILAGRO, EH DI LUBUSIN NA NILA! ANG PALIWANAG KO SA SUGGESTION NA YAN AY “HINIHILA SILA NG NAZARENO PATUNGO SA PAGBABAGONG BUHAY”. KUNG NAKIKIHILA NAMAN SILA, PARA NILANG PINAPALABAS NA NAHIHIRAPAN SI HESUS NA MAKATULOY SA KANYANG PATUTUNGUHAN KAYA TINUTULUNGAN NILA, GANOONG PANAY NAMAN ANG HINGI NILA DITO NG BIYAYA, AT ANG IBA AY NAKAKALIMUTAN PA ANG MAGPASALAMAT!

 

UPANG WALA NAMANG PROBLEMA SA FACE TOWEL NA GUSTONG IPAHID SA MUKHA NG NAZARENO, DAPAT, SA LUNETA PA LANG AY MAGPAHID NA SA ESTATWA NG LIBU-LIBONG FACE TOWEL UPANG IPAMIGAY SA MGA TAO BAGO MAGPRUSISYON….MAGAGAMIT PA NILA KAPAG PINAWISAN HABANG NAKIKI-PRUSISYON. NAPAPANSIN KASI NA MAY IBANG SUMASAMPA NA SA ULO NG IBANG DEBOTO UPANG MAKAAKYAT LANG SA KARO AT MAGPAHID NG FACE TOWEL NILA SA MUKHA NG ESTATWA.

 

ANG HINDI MAINTINDIHAN AY KUNG BAKIT HIHINTAYIN PA  ANG ARAW NA PISTA NG NAZARENO GANOONG ITO AY NASA SIMBAHAN LANG NG QUIAPO 24/7 BUONG TAON. HUWAG SABIHING SA ARAW LANG NG PISTA INILALABAS ANG “TUNAY” KUNONG ESTATWA NG NAZARENO KAYA PAGKAKATAON NANG MAKITA ITO. KAPAG ANG DAHILANG YAN ANG IPAGPIPILITAN, LALABAS NA WALANG EPEK ANG PANANAMPALATAYA NG MGA DEBOTO DITO KUNG HINDI NAKIKITA O NAHAHAWAKAN ANG “TUNAY” NA ESTATWA, GANOONG ANG TUNAY NA PANANAMPALATAYA AY WALANG PINIPILING ORAS, PANAHON, AT LUGAR….YAN ANG DAPAT IPALIWANAG NG SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO UPANG MABAWASAN ANG KAMANGMANGAN NG ILANG SUNOD LANG NG SUNOD SA MGA SINASABI NG MGA PARI NA ANG ILAN NAMAN AY MAY KADUDA-DUDA NAMANG PAGKATAO….KAYA PAANONG PANINIWALAAN?

 

HINDI AKO GALIT O KUMUKONTRA SA MGA GAWAIN NG SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO, PERO DAHIL SA CURIOSITY AY NAGTATANONG LANG AKO. CONCERNED DIN AKO SA MGA NAMAMATAY AT NASASAKTAN TUWING PISTA NG NAZARENO LALO NA ANG MGA SUMASAMA SA PRUSISYON. KARAPATAN KO YAN BILANG ISANG NAG-IISIP NA PILIPINO. DAPAT PANG UNAWAIN NA ANG MGA NAGLILINIS NG KALSADA AT MGA PULIS NA NAGMIMINTINA NG KAAYUSAN TUWING SASAPIT ANG PISTA NG NAZARENO AY SINUSUWELDUHAN NG TAONG BAYAN MULA SA BUWIS NA BINABAYAD NILA….KASAMA NA AKO DIYAN.

 

The Overzealous Devotion to the Black Nazarene

The Overzealous Devotion to the Black Nazarene

By Apolinario Villalobos

Every year, I partially witness the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Luneta to Quiapo Church. Partial because I just stay along Taft Avenue and follow until the procession reaches the Jones Bridge, then I go the other way towards the direction of Quiapo Church where a multitude of devotees are waiting.

As during the previous years, the Quiapo church authorities try their best to rectify the belief of the devotees that the January 9 is the fiesta of Quiapo which is wrong. The fiesta of Quiapo is June 24, as the district’s patron saint is St. John the Baptist. January 9 is the commemoration of the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Intramuros to Quiapo, and not a fiesta.

Observable as usual, is the overzealous praying to the image which the church authorities are trying to discourage by explaining that it is not Jesus, but just his representation, hence, an image, so that such act is idolatrous. Devotees are also advised not to bring their children to the occasion. Also, those living along the route of the procession should refrain from holding drinking sprees on the street, thinking that the occasion is a “fiesta”. And worse, they also hold piῆata games using earthen pots, resulting to the scattering of potsherds all over the streets which are along the route of the procession of barefooted devotees. Unfortunately, all those calls are unheeded.

The kissing ritual and wiping of the image with hand towels on which is printed the face of the Black Nazarene are also among the overzealous acts of the devotees. The kissing ritual is held at the Luneta Grandstand and the wiping of the image is done along the route of the procession during which many wonder how the towels can be thrown back to their owners afterwards by members of the Hijos de Nazareno who are protecting the image which is firmly perched on the “andas”.

This year, a “miracle” can eventually bolster the faith of the devotees to the Black Nazarene. A long- distressed mother is reunited with his mentally-handicapped son, after so many years of separation. It is as if her son is pushed to her side during the melee that ensued. The mother almost failed to recognize her son whose features are slightly changed. But her maternal instinct told her that it is her son. Radio field reporters eagerly picked up the story with eagerness, and which overshadowed the death of a member of the “Hijos” due to a stroke that resulted from over exhaustion.

The Black Nazarene is among the most popular images with millions of devotees in the Philippines, most of whom are concentrated in Manila and its suburbs. What distract the high-strung devotion are those who act as if possessed if they notice cameras focused to them, as well as, the Jesus personifiers, complete with crown of “thorns”, and who meld themselves in the sea of ardent devotees.

Before I left the procession, I asked one “devotee” whose breath strongly smells of liquor, the reason for his devotion. To my question, he answered that he is asking the Black Nazarene to give him a chance in winning the lottery, even just for once….

Touristic Manila

Touristic Manila

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When I came to Manila during the early 80’s, the city was just gaining a momentum toward its recognition as a prime tourist destination in Asia. The most popular district then was Ermita which would come alive just when the sun was about to set beyond the horizon of Manila Bay. From its daytime drabness the district would undergo an instant transformation into the gaudiness made heady by the loud music that emanated from the hole-in-the-wall beer joints. The jolly racket lasted until just before sunup. A night was never complete without a brawl. And when the sun finally warmed its sidewalks, giddy girls with still rouged faces lined the sidewalks for cheap jeepney ride home.

 

Today, Ermita has been transformed into a safe tourist haven. Roxas Boulevard is dotted with five-star hotels, and side by side with the Children’s Museum is the United States Embassy complex at the western end of the boulevard. M.H. del Pilar and A. Mabini Streets previously known for their raucous beer joints are now assuming a wholesome façade with rows of restaurants, affordable hotels, and a casino housed in five-star Hyatt Hotel that provides a highlight. The newly-renovated National Library of the Philippines breaks the monotony of T.M. Kalaw St., and a few meters from the imposing structure is the office of the National Historical Institute. A big shopping mall stands out among the condo buildings being built along the  United Nations Avenue where the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters are also located. Manila Pavilion that adds splendor to this particular section of Ermita was once the popular Manila Hilton.

 

Avenida, the main thoroughfare of the Sta. Cruz district, is still alive with sidewalk bazaars that overflow to the adjacent Quiapo district. Both districts have historic churches that serve as their centerpiece, and which are popular among pilgrims during Lenten season. Quiapo Church is the shrine of the Black Nazarene, the festivity of which draws millions of devotees every year. On the other side of Quezon Boulevard is the Islamic district, in the midst of which is the Golden Mosque. Though differing in faith, the residents of the two districts live in harmony.

 

Another shopping district of Manila is Divisoria where malls have mushroomed during the past years. It is still the most popular shoppers’ mecca of Manila where one can find practically everything – from school supply to the latest electronic gadgets. It is, however, more popular as showcase for latest fashions.  Late in the afternoon, a portion of the Recto Avenue is closed to give way to stalls of vegetable wholesalers who come from different provinces. Practically, the whole area is alive the whole night until six in the morning of the following day during which the merchants begin to pack up whatever are left of their goods. It is also at this time that the sanitary teams of the city begin to haul out piles of garbage and mop up the street for daytime shoppers.

 

The Chinatown of Manila, known more among the locals as Ongpin, referring to the main street, is the oldest in the world. It went through different historic transformations – from its being made as a segregated Chinese settlement or “parian” during the Spanish regime, into becoming a hideaway of urban Filipino guerillas during the WWII, until finally blossoming into an elegant enclave of oriental culture today with its towering condo buildings and restaurants where one could partake of exotic cuisine, though, the reliable steadfast apothecaries are still around with their different aromatic concoctions.

 

The Pasig River cuts across the landscape of Manila. The Manila City Hall is found on its west bank which is lately enhanced by a newly-built shopping mall, while the Malacaῆan Palace occupies a well-shaded north bank. The so-called “university belt” because of the several educational institutions within this particular section, is located several street corners from the palace.

 

The Liwasang Bonifacio (Bonifacio Park) near the Manila City Hall is dominated by the Post Office building and across from it is the idle Metropolitan Theater, still trying to stand proud despite years of neglect. The structure, though, could still gain attention because of its classical architecture. The theater was once the principal venue of both local and international plays, aside from concerts which launched several singers, actors and actresses to stardom.

 

Across the street from Liwasang Bonifacio, the Old Intramuros beckons to those with a desire to quench their thirst for history. Within the walls of Intramuros are the centuries- old Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. On foot, going around the Walled City, including leisurely stops for refreshing drinks or snacks, takes only about three hours. However, if the Fort Santiago is included in the itinerary, one should add another hour to their stroll. Inside the fort, one can find cells where prisoners were confined during the Spanish regime and the WWII. Local horse-driven coaches or rigs are available for leisurely ride that can be contracted for a jaunt up to Rizal Park or Luneta.

 

Rizal Park  was known in history as Bagumbayan where Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero was shot for purportedly instigating rebellion against the Spaniards. Behind the grandstand, one can find the H20 Hotel and Ocean Park which are just a few steps from the historic Manila Hotel. Lately, the park has undergone facelifts that made it more alluring to regular visitors. The park’s administration is not daunted by the small area of the park, instead, defied this limitation by using resourcefulness and creativity. The park’s crowning glory today is the cluster of renovated fountains that “dance” with the music and lights. The imposing Department of Tourism building is located on the T.M. Kalaw side of the park with its façade facing the giant bronze statue of Lapu-lapu that stands at what was once the skating rink, and a few meters from them is the National Parks Development office that manages Luneta. The Philippine map lagoon has been made more stroller-friendly with the floating lane that diagonally cuts across it.

 

The mentioned landmarks of Manila are accessible via the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, jeepneys, buses, and aircon vans. 

The Unwavering Christian Faith of the Filipinos

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.