Every year, the devotees of the Black Nazarene gather in Quiapo, Manila to show their devotion. This year, January 9, I was able to join for the second time, the hundreds of medical teams deployed along the path of the procession from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church. I was assigned at the Quiapo Church Command Center together with 6 other personnel from our organization.
I went there at 3:00 in the morning of January 9 for the second shift of duty. The taxi took me off at Quezon Boulevard bridge and I walked from there to Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.
Along my way, people were already on the streets, visiting the church. Several Nazarene replicas were brought by some devotees to be blessed during the Holy Mass. Some slept on the sidewalks, with cartons as their sleeping mats to make sure they arrive in time.
Devotees wore maroon and yellow shirts with the picture of the Black Nazarene. They walked barefoot as a sign of their sacrifice.
Some people went there to thank the Lord for the blessings or petitions they have asked. Some, and I think most of the people, went there to ask for something; for healing; for mercy; for providence.
I, myself, could not explain what I have felt while I was walking towards the church that morning. Every step closer to the church, I was crying. I started to think about my family, my hopes and dreams, my life. I started to ask God to please let my family be okay. I could not explain the feeling. Maybe the church and the Black Nazarene is so miraculous that is why people from different places are devoted to this church. Maybe I experienced the miracle and that was the reason why I cried that morning.
The picture above shows the command center of Quiapo Church. It is where all concerned teams (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta) are stationed: Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) of Manila, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Medical teams such as Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Red Cross (PRC), ACTION and other volunteers (sorry, I could no longer remember all of you :|).
Being the representative of PRC Welfare, I was there in our table to monitor the transported patients from our first aid stations to different hospitals. When there is a call from an ambulance that they are going to transport a patient to a certain hospital, I will inform the volunteers stationed at the hospitals about it so they will be alert to receive the patient.
Honestly, before coming to this station I was very nervous because I don’t know how to use a radio. But through out my shift, I listened to the different radios around me and had an idea how to communicate using it. I can now proudly say that I can talk to a person on the other end of the radio without saying “hello”. 😁✌🏻️
From 4:00 in the morning of January 9 to 3:00 in the morning of January 10, I was there to monitor every patient that was being transported. I was also there to inform the office about the current location of the procession.
Finally, after 20 hours, 6 minutes and 45 seconds, Black Nazarene safely arrived inside Quiapo Church.
The picture above shows that the Black Nazarene was being removed from the ‘andas’ or the vehicle used for the procession of the image.
Upon arriving of the image inside the church (in Puerta Mayor), steel gates were closed to prevent large flock of people from entering the church. There were many devotees inside, forming the diamond-shaped human barricade. Their role was to cut the flow of people into two so they could exit the left and right wing doors safely.
In the end…
Nobody can ever explain the devotion of the people. Nobody has the right to tell them that their beliefs are just false beliefs. God did something to them or for them through the Black Nazarene that is why they were all so thankful. Their expression of devotion might be too much for others, but they are happy doing it. They are happy and fulfilled. That’s all that matters.
God bless everyone! See you next year!