MANILA - For Arnold, a 41-year-old father from Taytay, Rizal, his devotion to the Black Nazarene is a lifetime of thanksgiving for an answered prayer.
Twenty-one years ago, his son was delirious from high fever. Arnold and his wife brought their dying son to several hospitals but was turned down many times, like Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. It was a hopeless case, doctors had said.
So, the couple pleaded to God. Arnold prayed to the Black Nazarene and his son was healed.
Since receiving what they claim was a miracle, Arnold and his wife joined the procession in Quiapo every year, thankful for the blessing they have received.
He said he does not know if what he was doing was fanaticism. But because his son was healed, he must return the favor and spend his life giving thanks to his God.
“Bilang deboto, basta kami sa Kanya, hawak kami sa Kanya. Walang hanggang pasasalamat ang ibinabalik namin sa Panginoon,” he said.
(As a devotee, we are with Him, we hold on to Him. Never ending thanksgiving, that’s what we’re trying to give back to God.)
Then there are young devotees who seek guidance from God.
Alcuin, a 17-year-old devotee, has been trooping to Quiapo with his friends for years.
He said he does not know about fanaticism or idolatry. He does not even have a particular petition that he is asking from God. All he knew, he said, is that he believes in the Poong Nazareno and for him that is enough.
The same thing goes for Joshua, 13. When asked if he understands what he was doing, he simply shrugged and said, “may panata kami (We have a vow).”
For others, the Black Nazarene devotion is a family tradition that should not be broken.