January 12, 2011

Holy Sheep! It's the Black Nazarene!!!

January 8, 2010
I was preparing myself to bed when I heard that my brother's friend was going to throw a party at our house. The visitor's lounge was next to my window so I can't beat them to sleep easily, they were laughing and were very noisy. They were just having a good time. Time passed on and on until I just decided to hang out with them till 5AM of January 9 since I couldn't sleep at all.

January 9, 2010
Feast of the Black Nazarene
Without sleep for 18 hours, I rode the transits MRT and LRT. The only possible transportation to get to my destination since almost all major roads were closed for the feast. I was meeting with a friend and told him to meet me at the center of the Philippine Archipelago, at the "0 Kilometer" marker.

I arrived at the marker and so does my friend Joshua who was a little late but it didn't matter. So I told him to follow me because I knew the way how to get close to the Black Nazarene without much human traffic. I noticed there was a problem, around that time the mass should only be starting, what I saw was that the carriage of the Nazarene was already being moved out and it means that the procession has begun! So there I was, dragging my friend with me through the crowd of millions to get ourselves a worthy shot of the artifact.

The Black Nazarene with his guardians. They say that if you could touch any part of it, miracles happen to the devotees. As you can see, it's crowded even when it's raining.
After following it at Quirino grandstand, we were at Padre Burgos hoping to catch a closer glimpse and action of the 400 year old sculpture. We saw a TV network van, the "NHK" and Joshua asked if we could go up to where they were so that we can capture it at a higher ground. They were nice and let us up, so we were 4 in a roof of a van.

Devotees go over the fence to catch the Nazarene, We did that too!
It was my second time to witness the Black Nazarene procession, yes you read it right. "To witness" because I'm not a devotee but rather a spectator to a magnificent spectacle that only happens every January 9. The first time I was at the procession, there were fewer people and for me what I saw at Quirino grandstand was cruel, but nothing prepared me to what I saw this second time.

The ocean of people at Roxas Boulevard
While I was up in the van I reached for my cellphone which I kept inside my bag, I noticed it was missing. I checked and checked again if it was gone, it was gone. However, that didn't stop from capturing the unforgettable scenes at the procession.

This is me at Lawton, Manila. I'm at the top of a waiting shed. Don't ask how I got there :)
So I've lost my cellular phone. I believe it wasn't stolen from me because when we took an early lunch at Jollibee, I was calling my phone and it was still ringing for almost 3 hours until it finally was turned off. Someone must have picked it up and decided to keep it. I understand that not all who join the procession are devotees, the procession is also swarmed with pick pockets. To forget the stupidity I did I just told myself over and over again that I answered someone's prayer by giving away a one year old cellular phone.

This was taken while I was sitting on top of the waiting shed. They say that to hold the rope connected to the Black Nazarene's carriage brings luck, miracles and answered prayers.
1:00PM - We were at least waiting patiently for at least 2 hours for the Nazarene to pass by. Waiting for hours on the roof of a waiting shed along with other photographers is a bit boring. Good for me, I've got Joshua to keep me amused. We were singing and played a game we called "Spot the Nazarene babe" where we will find a beautiful woman and whoever sees her first scores. I won 2-1, yes the low scoring game was surprising amidst the millions who pass by our station.

At last! It finally came and as it came closer to the range of my Nikon D40 DSLR with a name I call him "UNO" or "One" with stock 18-55mm lens, I shot almost a hundred photos in 3 minutes! I felt the heat and smelled the odor of the people who were all barefooted. It is a rule that to join the procession, one must go barefooted. I saw a lot of banging, shouting, people stepping on other's shoulder using them as a bridge to get nearer. People were looking at us and were asking for water, so I threw in my bottle, he didn't catch it but my bottle ricochet into another man's eye and it hurt him. I'M SO SORRY! Miraculously, they gave the man the bottle to the person I was trying to give it to. I mean everyone's thirsty but they respected to whom the bottle should be with. A simple nod and thumbs up from the man made my day, I hurt someone's eye but helped someone's thirst!

An amazing scene that has been happening for decades. Maybe centuries! This year was the biggest one.
 7 MILLION participants.
You can see at the picture above the kind of waiting shed I was seated. It was a safe place and actually the best seat in the house! From there I was only a few feet away from the Nazarene. It's amazing how the image can move millions.

After the it passed by from where I was, Joshua wanted to go to Quiapo Church, where the Black Nazarene would be returned. I was tired, my feet hurts and I lost my cellphone. I called it a day and we bid goodbye to each other, I just had no energy left. I was awake for 26 hours straight and to be able to witness and cover the event was already a miracle to me.

When I got home, I just slept and learned that the procession took 17 hours. The longest in its history. 17 hours of procession in a distance that is about a 15 minute drive from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church. 7 Million participants, what an awesome experience it was even if I lost something that day. I would love to be there to witness what does the Black Nazarene procession has to offer this coming January 9, 2012.


Matt Austria said...

Nice post!

Miguel Puno said...

Cool blog bro and nice pictures. I enjoyed reading. :) and sorry about your phone. haha.

John Exos Nulud said...


Thank you! You should have been there!

Thank you! Don't worry about the phone, life is irreplaceable. The phone also is a defective one. Cheers!

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...

Di ko pa nasubukan mag Quiapo, lagi natatapat na may pasok ako. Next year paghahandaan ko yan.

John Exos Nulud said...

Yeah you should! Daming unforgettable moments, anyway I was with your cousin. Joshua? He also was the one who introduced my to your blog.