What a good year starter!
January 09 commemorates the Feast of the Black Nazarene or fondly known as Itim na Nazareno. The century old image of the Black Nazarene is nested at the Basilica Minore del Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno de Quaipo (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo). This year’s feast day falls on a Sunday. Number of devotees from last year is expected to double and it did.
Covering the Feast of the Black Nazarene was a dream come true! I could still remember the two attempts I made in covering the latter, but I ended up a chicken. I've been hearing scary stories from the news and from other people which prohibits me from attending the feast. At first, I thought that stories are with extreme exaggeration but I was able to prove them true.
My heart nearly stopped - I found a good spot to take photos at the tail of McArtur Bridge near Manila City Hall. I was waiting for the image to pass by. I’ve been hearing devotees telling their fellow devotees to move away once the image is near. This is to avoid being shoved away by the rushing people. I played deaf for I have a sturdy street signage in front of me and my legs were locked with its poles. The image was fast approaching with Nazareno devotees pulling the rope attached to the carroza with full force. At a blink of an eye, I was pushed off the bridge by the rushing devotees!
God saved me! - Falling from a 9-ft tall structure, I was lucky to be unfractured. I fell with low impact for I have grabbed the nearest pole and fall gracefully onto the concrete. A concerned man hurriedly approached me and grabbed me. When I looked back, I saw a pile of human on the area where I fell and more bodies continuously falling from the bridge. If I was there, I could be the bottom of the human pile. Surrounded by a huge crowd, the place felt unusually warm. It could be the adrenaline rush. I never wanted to be part of the crowd but I found myself already PART of the ballistic crowd. I wanted to leave the site, but I was persistent. I wanted to get good pictures of the procession.
The experience was terrifying but it was all worth it.
Tips in covering/attending the Black Nazarene Feast:
-Do your research esp. the route of the procession.
-At the procession, be persistent. Ask around and keep yourself posted of the location of the image.
-If you want to take pictures, be sure to find a spot at the big streets or on top of a sturdy structure.
-If you happen to be shoved away with the crowd, join the flow. Never resist - the force is too great for you to do so. You might fall flat on your face.
-BE CAREFUL of mandurukot.