Arts and Culture

Trivia: 11 things you didn’t know about the Black Nazarene

Millions join the procession on January 9 in Quiapo, Manila for the traslacion of the Black Nazarene. Photo by Bernard Testa,

Every January 9, crowds and crowds of faithful Catholics join the vigil at the Quirino grandstand and then the procession, barefoot going to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. But unknown to many January 9 is not the feast of Quiapo, read on for more trivia about the Itim na Nazareno.

1. Celebrity devotees of the Black Nazarene
Former vice-president and news anchor, Noli de Castro is one of the many devotees who gallantly joins the crowd every January 9. Other celebrity sightings include Coco Martin, Angeline Quinto Christopher de Leon, radio announcer Bro. Jun “Doctor Love” Banaag, Amy Perez, and Giselle Sanchez, among others.

2. Most number of people in a procession
The number of people professing their faith seems to be doubling in number through the years. As the police reported in 2010 about 100,000 people turn out, then in 2011 about 1.3 million people were at the vigil and about half a million devotees made their way barefoot. Last year, reports estimate that up to 8 million people showed up to touch the miraculous icon. This year, 2013, an estimated 9 million people were reported to have shown up during the procession.

3. Longest time for procession
Last year’s procession also broke records, as the longest time the Black Nazarene was in procession—for 22 hours. The devotees rallied on, barefoot for almost a day with the Poong Nazareno as a wheel-less carriage and a broken rope pushed to bring the religious image back to its home. This year’s procession ended a few hours earlier, 18 hours, leaving the Quirino Grandstand at 8:30 a.m. and returning to Quiapo Church at around 1:30 a.m.

4. Not a good sign—when a rope or carriage broke
The procession had a lot of challenges last year as mechanical problems and broken wheels delayed the procession for several hours. This prompted the devotees to carry the Black Nazarene themselves. However there was also a problem with the route, as there have been changes made, but the followers carrying the image were firm to sticking with the original route. The procession made it to Plaza Miranda at about 5 a.m. the next day with more than a thousand devotees waiting and sleeping in whatever space they could occupy.

In 2010, the procession was delayed for about thirty minutes when the icon of the Black Nazarene was being blocked by the devotees.

Most believers say that when the carriage breaks down or a rope breaks, it also signals a not-so-good time for the country in general. Natural disasters in 2012, for instance, were foretold already with last year’s disruptions during the procession.

5. Women devotees and the Black Nazarene
Many would think the procession—with thousands of mostly male devotees walking barefoot during the entire time and battling their way through the thick crowds to touch the Black Nazarene—is no place for a woman. Yet, there are those who brave the sea of people like Corazon Tandas who joined the procession last year. Tandas was able to put away a stem of white blossoms from the carriage.

6. The Black Nazarene in movies
Quaipo has been a known setting for films, such as the FPJ Maricel Soraino flick, Batang Quaipo (1986), Eddie Garcia starrer Enteng Manok, Tari ng Quaipo (1993). The home of the Black Nazarene has been a favorite setting as well for indie films such as Tagapagligtas.

7. The Nazarene’s dark complexion
According to folk traditions, the Poong Nazareno’s dark brown molato skin color was bought by the fire on the ship that carried it. The miraculous image survived the said blaze, but it scorched Jesus’ fair complexion. Another story told is that the Mexican artist who created the figure painted the image similar to the color of his skin, and when it arrived here in the Philippines it turned darker.

8. Second image
A replica has been commissioned by the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the Quaipo Basilica.  The head and hands of the replica is placed on the original torso, while the original head and hands is placed on the body of the replica. This is used in the procession, to protect the life-size statue from wear and tear.

9. The Traslacion
January 9 is not the feast of the Quaipo but the feast of the transfer of the miraculous image from Luneta to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the Translacion.

On May 31, 1606, the Augustinian Recollect Friars brought the figure which survived the fire of the Black Nazarene to the Church of San Juan Bautista, in what was then Bagumbayan. In 1608, the Poong Nazareno was transferred to the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino. It was only in 1787 when then Archbishop of Manila Basilio Sancho de Santas Junta y Rufina, S.P. arranged for the transfer of the image.

10. The Black Nazarene’s new clothes
Every month the Black Nazarene changes its wardrobe. This is shouldered by the many devotees as part of their commitment.  Other ways that devotees show their dedication is through the weekly novenas every Friday, lighting of candle, walking barefoot in the church, and touching and kissing of the Poong Nazareno.

The many followers have grown expressing their gratitude to the image for simple things such as recovering lost objects to recovering from a serious illness.

11. Black Nazarene and the social media
Although telecommunications companies blocked off signals in certain parts of Manila for security purposes, and in this age of social media, netizens couldn’t help but post images of the procession on Facebook or tweet about the unique religious ritual.

Although some of these celebrities didn’t attend the procession, they still tweeted about the event

Singer Laarni Lozada @laarni_lozada: “So many lessons today. . Tiring but fruitful! Bukas matraffic sa Quiapo. . . Viva Poong Nazareno!!!”

Broadcast journalist Julius Babao tweeted the night before @juLiusbabao:
Former basketball star Billy Ray Bates is here at the vigil of the black nazarene.

Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim through @TheMayorLIM:
O, Heto ang dadaanan ng prusisyon ng Poong Nazareno

And TV5′s Lourd de Veyra @lourddv:
Dahil malapit na ang pista ng Nazareno. The Word of the Lourd.