Monday, 9 January 2017

Rehearsal for a "Revolution" to come.

Rehearsal for a "Revolution" to come.

Notes on the 2016 Black Nazarene "Translacion"

From its major thoroughfares, about a million and a half barefoot, maroon-and-yellow clad devotees are all praying for miracles as they all joined in a procession for the black statue of the Lord Jesus Christ that is, being paraded at Manila.

Be it pulled by ropes or pushed from behind the Nazarene's carriage, devotees expressed a fanatically kind of fervor, especially that most dare to reach for the icon, regardless of its risk, for the centuries-old dark icon is to believed having healing powers if not providing them luck especially amongst poor devotees.

However, each year, there are several people in that occasion that are injured or even killed, especially after being caught in the crown of devotees trying to reach the icon as it passes from Luneta park to Quiapo church, recalling its first transfer all from the Spanish period.

Also in that occasion, about 4,000 soldiers, police and emergency workers, supported by volunteers, were on duty for the procession; actively on alert as reports about terrorist threats been reported prior to the event itself.

But despite all the threats, police said there were no serious incidents. But then, they are ensuring security as they're observing a raucous celebration that drew millions of devotees all in a barefoot procession for several hours around Manila. 

Anyway, like any other feasts inside Metro Manila and in the Philippines itself, Quiapo's "Feast of the Black Nazarene" has been awaited by everyone: be it from the devotees themselves, tourists, media, or even terrorists whose yearly threats rather end thwarted by the "long arm of the law". And in spite of fear, all seemed normal as any other occasion: that vendors are selling wares ranging from folk medicine to replicas of the district's known image, of families from other parts of Manila seeking the Lord's graces, restaurants selling food, or even couples having their "relationship goals". That makes Quiapo's setting showed faith with the devotee's fervour, profit as stores making money on passers by, and even fun with someone lighting a firecracker known as "Sinturon ni Hudas" in the centre of the street.

However, that occasion also has its share of criticism, be it from other Christian sects because of the statue itself as an idol and the devotee as making an idolatrous act which is an anathema to their interpretation of the "word of the lord"; of apathetics for seeing the event as hindrance to progress (because of traffic and rerouting) and of their description of the devotee as fanatic yet lazy kind of person if not dismissing their devotion altogether as mere seeking miracles than an act of faith as any other Christians, and even few from the Catholics whose description of that said event as reminiscent of a football match with all its shouts (according to one missionary who failed to understand Filipino Catholicism) if not having the occasion not celebrated in Good Friday (perhaps that Catholic failed to notice that Quiapo's Nazarene procession are also celebrated on the opening year of the "panata" and at Good Friday".)

But then, despite these criticisms (including those from fellow Catholics), the devotee's faith prevailed thinking that theirs "can move mountains" the way they are trying to reach the state just to touch or wipe it with cloth; if not seeing how these devotees showed the same expression of the Nazarene himself: bearing the challenges of an inconvenient reality and the desire to bring mercy to the once sinned if not to fulfill the hopes of many.
To cite the rector Monsignor of Quiapo, Jose Clemente Ignacio, the procession and devotion is not idolatry, rather it is a reflection of "Filipino trait to want to wipe, touch, kiss, or embrace sacred objects if possible", and it is just a belief in "the presence of the Divine in sacred objects and places".

Furthermore, according to Professor Gerardo Lanuza, he stated that:

"The Black Nazarene is both an icon and idol. It can be a mirror-symbol to project one's wishful thinking, or an icon that reveals the reality greater than one's personal interests. Critics cannot therefore dismiss this devotion as pure idolatry. It is to confuse the symbol for the Reality it is supposed to reveal. It is this Reality that is contested: is God a suffering masochistic God or a rebel fighter?"

Obviously, quite easier for critics to just call the occasion itself an idolatrous act. But Lanuza, who was a former Seminarian, expressed that through the Black Nazarene it reflected the realities of man as a suffering being, and devotees, with its desire to be "pardoned" if not to be "healed" or to bring "luck" has to take the challenge, of bearing pain with faith in reaching that is, sacred.

Sadly, there are those who are appearing to be spiritual yet its character happened to be immoral as lumpens are also around the district such as thieves trying to make victims out of devotees in the thoroughfares of Quiapo according to such isolated cases.

Anyway, with all these observations, of expressions, of shouting, fanaticism, and the like, this person shared the same view as Lanuza's in how the icon showed the reality that is suffering and one's desire for change, for the Black Nazarene reminds everyone that in loving also comes suffering. But that suffering is not "masochism" as others may interpret in observing, for the fact that "there is always pain when in love" for it is the consequence of allowing one's self to take the suffering of the other. That in loving, one has to endure the pains that accompany the other's growth, welfare, and well-being, and in carrying the Cross and enduring the pain as Christ did in his passion lies the most loving gesture of a God that is infinitely loving. "Take the Cross, and follow me", as what Christ said.

Hence, can we not interpret the "traslacion" from Luneta to Quiapo Church from Sunrise to Sundown, from early morning to midnight, as a collective rehearsal of 5 to 8 million people all for the revolution to come? These people took long time to engage in that event, all brought out of love, that nonetheless resulting to be a fusion of enthusiasm, devotion, patience, perseverance, and endurance these devotees ever done; also to think that most of these devotees comes from the poor, the downtrodden, the suffering, those who desire for a good life with the lord; or from the simplest thoughts from theirs: seeking miracles and luck and paying it back with thanks.

And these observations and traits these devotees have in that event are also Revolutionary virtues a collective uprising demands. Come to think of this: what keeps this people going and persevering? 

Hope. Besides Faith and Love.