Black Nazarene devotion: An act of thanksgiving

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2017 04:07 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2017 04:00 PM

MANILA- Devotees of the Black Nazarene have respective reasons why they risk life and limb every January 9 just to get close to the "poon."

University of the Philippines-Manila Professor Celia Bonilla explains that each devotee of the Black Nazarene has a “personal take” on why they decided to make the devotion their own.

“For each one of those devotees it would be a personal take on their own lives because each person, by dint of each person’s conviction, has decided to make this devotion [his or] hers,” 
Bonilla said in an interview on “Mornings@ANC.”

Just by going around Quiapo, Manila, Bonilla said you can hear stories of miracles.

“Each person tells you a story of their miracles, struggles. It’s for their own way of giving back to the Black Nazarene,” she said.

Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

Bonilla shared that her mother had her own personal share of the Black Nazarene’s miracle.

According to Bonilla, her mother devoted the young Bonilla to the Black Nazarene because the professor was so sickly in her childhood that she could not even walk. 

Bonilla also shared some stories of miracles from her thesis interviews on the Black Nazarene such as that of businessman Rudy Paar.

Paar, according to Bonilla, was a tobacco smuggler during the second world war. In one train trip, Paar was the sole survivor after he and 35 others fell from the caboose.

The former smuggler said he saw a black face before losing consciousness, which he soon only recognized during his wedding at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

Since then, Paar has been a devotee of the Black Nazarene, giving out donations for the upkeep of the icon’s “andas” or carriage and the lighting of the Church.

Another story of devotion is that of an Atenean businessman who took the devotion upon himself since his father became to weak to join the annual procession.

Bonilla said the businessman told her that he was prayed for by his father to the Black Nazarene when he was dying of asthma as a child.

Asked on her views on the chaotic procession, Bonilla said there is a certain choreography observed by devotees as they go through the mammoth crowd.

She said devotees help each other get up and walk along the shoulders of other devotees to get close to the Black Nazarene icon.

Towels being thrown to the Black Nazarene also return to their owners for ways Bonilla said she cannot explain.

She also dismissed the idea that everyone who throws their towels to the Black Nazarene thinks of it as some sort of "anting-anting" saying the act is simply a way for others to touch the icon as well.

"A lot of people I know say it’s just a way for us to touch," she said.

Millions of Filipino Catholic devotees flock to Quiapo every January 9 to join the annual procession of the Black Nazarene which is believed by many to be miraculous.