IT was like seeing an army of ants climbing up a colony – only imagine it to be chaotic, more than a few stepping on heads and shoulders in order to touch a moving target. In a predominantly Catholic country, religious festivities such as this are commonplace but the Feast of the Black Nazarene definitely stands out in terms of scale. This year's estimates put the number of attendees by the millions. During this day, the image of the Black Nazarene is paraded from Quiapo Church around Manila's city streets and back. This year, though, the mass was held instead at the Quirino Grandstand (fronting Luneta or Rizal Park), followed by a procession leading to Quiapo Church. Dressed in maroon and carrying white towels, hankies and other pieces of clothing, devotees started converging by the thousands during the mass. Of course, any large gathering – religious or not – is bound to attract commerce. I saw vendors silk-screening T-shirts with image of Jesus Christ right there in the grandstand. What followed afterwards was literally a Black Nazarene showcase – a parade of replicas big and small owned by different parishes and devotees themselves. I've never seen so many statues of Christ before. The bigger replicas were atop carriages. Wiping towels or any piece of clothing on the image of Christ is believed by devotees to carry blessings and makes one's wishes come true. Me and my colleagues Majo and Izah -- shown here with her beloved SLR camera "Rash") -- had a great of view of the procession from the second floor balcony of the City College of Manila campus. At the end of procession is the "real" Black Nazarene, a centuries-old statue brought from Spain to the country. The image is said to have survived a fire and from then on, it was believed by devotees to be miraculous. This sort of explains why devotees are willing to risk life and limb just to get near it. On our way to Quiapo, we asked a few people how they became devotees of the Black Nazarene. This video also shows clips we shot from where we were positioned, marveling at the great spectacle that was the Black Nazarene mob.
Recently in Announcements Category
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net "My height is a gift from God," said Ijaz Ahmed, a towering Pakistani who has come to the Philippines to raise funds for his right leg operation. Ahmed claims to be 8 feet and four inches and weighs 287 pounds. According to doctors, Ijaz, 26, is still expected to grow by three to four inches, giving him the chance of clinching the Guinness World title for world’s tallest living man. Ijaz hails from Punjab and has worked as farmer before his injury, having been born to a family of farmers. In 2002, he injured his foot in a car accident. Doctors had told him the operation would cost $50,000 and so in 2006, he embarked on a tour to raise money for his operation. Over the past two years, Ijaz has raised a third of the total amount required for his operation. Ijaz took a trip to the Philippines after he met Ann Sia of Clara International during a 2006 event in Malaysia. Sia said Ijaz was a guest in her company’s event along with a three-foot man. Upon learning of Ijaz’s condition, she offered to host Ijaz after he visits Manila for his fund raising project. “My friend Ann invited me to go to the Philippines to raise funds for my operation. She said the people here are friendly and very kind,” Ijaz said. Sia said a Filipino pledged to help Ijaz on his leg injury and has scheduled him for a medical checkup at a Makati hospital. When asked if he has a girlfriend, Ijaz smiled and said: “Right now, I don't have a girlfriend because in Pakistan, we have arranged marriages. My parents will choose the girl for me.” Ijaz, through the help of his caretaker and interpreter Jamil Ahmed, has submitted papers for application to the Guinness World Records. Ijaz will go back to Pakistan in December so Guinness World Records can measure his height, said Jamil. At present, Bao Xishun of China holds the Guinness World record because Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk was stripped of the record in August 2008 when he refused Guinness representatives from getting his height. “I have already submitted papers to Guinness but I do not really mind if I am hailed as second or third tallest living man in the world. I am happy I am here today,” said Ijaz. Ijaz said he dreams of peace, accessible healthcare and education for everyone. At present, he chairs a nonprofit organization for differently abled children in Pakistan. Ijaz will stay in Manila for less than a month.