A day before the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, the President warned of bomb threats. Observers predicted that only a few would dare join the procession. It was the complete opposite. Never in the history of the Black Nazarene was there an ocean of devotees in the millions. It was also the longest procession, 22 hours from dawn to dawn, 9 hours longer than the usual. All four wheels of the carrosa broke down one by one. Ironically it stopped for a long time right at the heart of the Muslim enclave, an omen perhaps of the bond among common Muslims and Christians. People slept on the pavement, waiting for the Image to pass their street. When the local government wanted to make a short cut due to the delay, residents came out in droves to protest. Security forces suppressed cellphone signal to and from the Quiapo area, but there were no bombs.


There are two messages in this historic affair, one from the Nazarene, and the other from the Filipino devotees. The message from the devotees is a simple prayer, “We will never abandon you, Lord, Even amid the greatest trials You send us, we will always endure.” And the message from the Lord in return is just as simple, “I will never abandon you because you have not abandoned Me. I am the ocean, you are the rivers. Flow into Me as I flow back into you as rain that nourishes your fields. I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in Me as I in you.”


Bernie Lopez
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