By Analou De Vera
Millions of Filipinos once again chanted ‘Viva!” — showing their faith and devotion as they participated in one of the country’s biggest religious festival– the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
Every January 9, the downtown Manila is filled with devotees, majority of them wearing maroon shirts and equipped with white towels, with their faces ‘painted’ with despair, gratefulness, and other sorts of emotions that can best describe their ‘genuine sacrifice’ for the Nazarene.
During the annual festival, Ruel Sta. Romana from Caloocan City is one the ‘maroon’ devotees that swarmed the black statue of Jesus Christ which is believed to perform ‘miraculous’ acts.
The festival was sometimes coined as ‘fanaticism’ by some, but for the 38-year-old tricycle driver it is a “true devotion.”
“Kailangan mo lang maniwala. Nandito ako kasi naniniwala ako, debosyon ko ito. Ang gusto ko lang ay yung pamilya ko ay magkaroon ng magandang kalusugan at umunlad ang pangkabuhayan namin,” he said.
[You just need to believe. I’m here because I believe [in him], this is my devotion. All I want is for my family to have good health and our life to flourish.]
Joining Sta. Romana among the sea of people was 12-year-old Angelo Dela Cruz. He and his five other friends were marching along the Escolta district with them holding a white flag bearing the face of the Black Nazarene.
Dela Cruz said that he started to participate when he was seven-years-old. He inherited the ‘practice’ since his parents were also devotees of the Nazarene.
The boy, who have four other young siblings, is hopeful that the ‘miraculous’ statue would grant his wish to finish his studies and become a pilot.
“Naniniwala po ako na walang imposible. Kailangan ko lang magdasal at syempre mag-aral ng mabuti. Sana makatapos talaga ako at makapagpalipad ng eroplano, kaso yung pamilya po namin mahirap lang eh. Ayun po siguro yung hiling ko na sana kayanin nila akong makatapos.” said Dela Cruz.
[I believe that nothing is impossible. One should always pray and of course study hard. I hope to finish my studies and learn to fly an airplane, but our family is poor. That is my wish, for my parents to let me finish my studies.]
Dela Cruz said that if ever his dream comes into fruition in the future, he hopes that his family is his passenger for his first flight.
“Sa ngayon po, tiwala lang. Miracle na yun kung sakali maging piloto. [For the meantime, I just have to believe. That will be a miracle if ever I become a pilot],” he said as he drew a smile on his face.
Jimmy Francisco and his wife Narissa traveled from Pangasinan down to the country’s capital to give thanks for the ‘great blessing’ that they received two years ago— their son, Rayver.
Jimmy and his wife, who were just watching from the sidelines of the procession, said that they waited for Rayver for five years.
“Ang tagal bago kami magka-anak. Then nagdasal kami sa Nazareno. At ayun, binigay nya sa amin yung hiniling namin. That is really a blessing for us,” said Jimmy.
The couple said that when their son grows up, they will introduce him to the Nazarene. “Sasabihin namin na Sya ang nagdala sa’yo sa amin.”