Thursday, January 10, 2013

Idolatry in Black Nazarene Not Biblical

Hundreds of thousands of devotees of Manila's Black Nazarene breezed through the capital under cloudy skies in an impressive display of faith and religious commitment to a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ many believe has astounding powers.

The procession Wednesday, which started off at the Quirino Grandstand after sunrise and wound up at the minor basilica of the Black Nazarene before nightfall, took on a festive mood.

Vendors enjoyed brisk sales while barefoot men and women crowded the 3-km procession route.

Thousands, clad in dark maroon, watched the statue and jostled for position in hopes they would be able to touch the life-size, black icon as it was carried on a carriage through the historic area of the capital, with 3,000 police in strategic areas to maintain security and order.

Many of the buses and jeepneys, which ply the route taken Wednesday by the participants, had hit other streets to ferry their passengers to their respective destinations in the capital or the outlying areas.

Many of the streets which were temporarily closed for the occasion were reopened by mid-afternoon.

Many of the establishments along the procession route closed shop for the day.

Police said half a million people joined the parade as it began at the Luneta and concluded in Quiapo church where, earlier in the day, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrated a Mass.

During the procession, people – men and women, including senior citizens, joined the frenzied rush to try to touch the icon which forced the carriage to appear like it was being tossed in a sea of humanity, many of them without shoes or slippers as a sign of penance.

The life-size wooden statue was brought to Manila by Augustinian priests from Mexico in 1607, and its dark color is believed to have been caused by it being slightly burnt in a fire aboard the Spanish galleon on which it was being transported.

While the Catholic Church celebrates the demonstration of faith and devotion, not all Filipino Catholics, who make up more than 88 per cent of the country's 98 million population, display what some call the fanaticism of some devotees heard shouting every now and then "Viva El SeƱor" as they tried to get the lifetime chance to touch the statue or the rope attached to it.

The day-long procession is the highlight of the feast of the Black Nazarene, which followed an overnight vigil and Mass at the Quirino Grandstand.

Police had warned devotees against flashing their gadgets like mobile phones as well as jewelry and other valuables.

There were reports of victims of pickpocketing inside the Quiapo church, but otherwise the procession was, according to police, generally peaceful.

Some fainted among the thick walls of participants and were immediately attended to by paramedics.

Meanwhile, the number of individuals injured in the procession reached 260, the Manila Police Department-Tactical Operation Center reported.

These persons were treated by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Philippine National Red Cross medical teams which followed closely the participants.

Vendors had a festive zone along the procession route, which cut through the heart of Manila, passed by the old Congress edifice, Manila's City Hall, and the old Metropolitan Theater by a provincial bus terminal and the Manila Central Post Office through the Quezon Bridge before the image re-entered the basilica.

Majority of the devotees sustained bruises and cuts sustained when they were shuffling for positions during the procession.

Police also reported the arrest at Plaza Miranda of two pickpockets, including a woman, who masqueraded as devotees.

Supt. Ricardo Layug of the Quiapo Police Station said the procession was generally peaceful when compared to that of last year when petty crimes were perpetrated.

He earlier appealed to devotees to leave their children home and discouraged drunken devotees to stay away from the procession route.

The Black Nazarene image during the procession is just a replica of the original which is being kept by the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority said it has collected 20 truckloads of garbage since Tuesday night.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said 120 tons of garbage – mostly plastic bottles -- had been collected at the Quirino Grandstand.

The MMDA deployed 1,250 personnel including rescue personnel, traffic enforcers and street sweepers along the route.

Tolentino said 200 rescue personnel were also on standby at McArthur Bridge in Sta. Cruz.

"Ang rescue plan is: nandito yung MMDA rescue team namin with rescue boats. Nariyan din ang Coast guard, ilang rubber boat ng Philippine Navy at dalawang pump boat na malalaki.

No comments: