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Friday, April 3, 2015

Quiapo Church: Saving the Best for Last for Visita Iglesia

We decided to save the best for last last night as we wrapped up our Visita Iglesia.  It was already past midnight when we left Mendiola and when we reached the Quiapo area, we once again found a parking slot just for us - as if a guardian angel was always guiding us to the right free spot!

Quiapo Boulevard was already closed for traffic and as we walked from Isetann to the Quiapo church, alongside us was this motley procession of people who were barefoot!  The Nazareno devotees, at least the ones from Quiapo - were here in full force!

I had only seen the Nazareno procession on TV so it was amazing to see many devotees around, considering it was already midnight, which meant it was Good Friday already!  When we entered the church, we were met by this resounding loud cheer of people waving their white towels! It was like mass hysteria in a rock concert  - it was as if Jesus Christ himself came down from the heavens and entered the Quiapo church and bask in the adulation of His believers!  

The people were standing on the pews and what made it a bit scary for me was this movement of humanity, a slow surge of people coming from the entrance of the church, moving towards the left side where the exit to Quiapo boulevard was!  For a while, I thought we would be caught in that crush of humanity, but thankfully, we were a safe distance away, near the right side of the altar.

Frankly, nothing beats the religious fervor of the Nazareno devotees.  If faith were a living organism, it was alive and well in each of these devotees who ranged from all ages - bata, matanda, lalaking barako, lalaking lampayatot, babaeng sexy, babaeng   balyena, pati na binabae - the love for Jesus has transcended all these and you cannot even distinguish those who came in cars and those who just walked all the way from their home bases to Quiapo church.  And yes, they were all barefoot!  Remember, Quiapo boulevard was closed - so all of these people walked!!

It was really like a fiesta outside and the Manila government naman was there in full force, the police, the medics and first aid - making sure everyone was safe and nobody was taking advantage of the situation to cause disturbances.

There were many people doing the Stations of the Cross so it was a matter of huddling together as the sounds of different languages - English, Tagalog and a smattering of dialects could be heard, as people read from their Way of the Cross prayer books.  

It was really fitting that we chose Quiapo to end this mini-pilgrimage that we had yesterday, because there, we felt like we were stripped of all our pretensions and vanities - and amidst the stench, the sweat, the dirt and the grime - it reminded each one of us that Jesus was born in the most humble of conditions and He died in the most harrowing of circumstances. 

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