January 9, 2014

Thanks to GNO for featuring this excerpt. I heard twas a staff fave at the weekly meet. Much gratitude!

Days in the Faith Underground: Inside the devotion to the Black Nazarene

 By , GMA NewsJanuary 8, 2014 5:59pm

Reprinted from the book “Report from the Abyss”

Anybody who’s spent five minutes in a mosh pit knows the violence of chaos theory in action. You dive in and no formula can tell where, or if, you come up. In a country where anything can be backed by “You and what army?” there’s no better illustration of the crowd as pure body politic than the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene.

I don’t care who you are. If it’s your first time (especially if it’s your first time) you have not beheld anything as astounding as the Feast. Held every January 9, the Traslacion procession marks one of the three occasions when the seven-foot image is brought out and paraded around the Quiapo district. Both processions refer to the transfer of the image to the Minor Basilica. As early as 3 AM, devotees start trickling into Plaza Miranda waiting for the procession to start at 2 PM. By around 10 AM, the body count is 250,000 and growing, and the traffic is in a fantastic snarl. Security, if you can imagine it, is a nightmare.

* * *

“You get the hang of it,” shrugs Desiderio Salvador.

Salvador used to be the president of the Comite de Festejos. He organized the monstrous affair for 16 years running. Salvador and his partners always try to impose a semblance of control during the event. It is futile. So what they do is set up an uber-planner’s dream of paramedic teams, coordination with the local police detachment, the bomb squad, the mayor’s marshals, about 20 roving security guards, and an army of church volunteers.

Salvador used to be one of the young men in the crowd. Now, in his late 50s, Salvador only participates through the Comite.

“Their faith is strong because all of one’s wishes, one’s petitions are granted by the Senyor,” Salvador explains the crowd’s zeal.

The image’s complete title is Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. But to Salvador, and others like him, Senyor is the fond name they use to refer to their patron. Like a reverent nick you would give to a beloved elder or close friend.

“Everyone has a personal reason to be here,” Salvador gestures to encompass the anxious crowd.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s