TRASLACION (QUIAPO FIESTA SEASON)
Friday devotions have long existed in the Catholic Church dedicated to Christ who died on Good Friday. In the Philippines, popular Friday devotions are the devotion to the Sacred Heart, devotion to the Child Jesus, and the devotion to Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno. Every Friday in Manila is Quiapo Friday. Thousands of devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno flood the streets of Quiapo in order to say their novenas or attend the Mass in the well-known Quiapo Church.
As early as three o’clock in the morning, prayer leaders lead the people in praying the rosary. The celebration of the holy mass is done fifteen times that starts as early as four o’clock in the morning. Masses continue by the hour with only a few minutes interval. The last Mass of the day is at eight o’clock in the evening.
The Novena to Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno is prayed after the twelve-noon mass and in the evening as part of the Holy Hour. Catechism is also given by a priest to the devotees an hour before the three o’clock mass. Another devotional prayer that is being prayed inside the Church on Fridays is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Angelus.
Friday is also the day when a great multitude of devotees line up venerating the image of Nazareno. The center of attention is the image of Nazareno that is enthroned in the main altar that is accessible from the back of the church. People wait in line for hours just to touch the foot of the image and offer some prayers. This gesture of veneration is popularly known in Quiapo as the Pahalik. In the Pahalik, devotees touch, kiss or wipe their handkerchiefs to the image of Nazareno or other images of saints in the Church. This activity goes all throughout the day as devotees come and go from the Church premises.
Although confessions are available from Monday to Saturday, many of the devotees still say their confession on Fridays. They don’t bother lining up for hours just to reach the confession box where a priest is ready to hear their confession. On a regular Friday, priests minister confession to the penitents, serving at least two hours each. The confessional is open from four in the morning until nine in the evening. A priest says that perhaps many of these people came for the Mass and Novena and do not intend to confess, but are eventually moved to repentance by their experience of Nazareno in their prayers.
There are also devotees who walk on their knees on the center aisle of the church towards the sanctuary. This practice is being allowed after all the liturgical services inside the Church are finished to avoid any form of destruction. Many devotees who did this testify that the Nazareno has been granting their prayer request. Thus the saying “simulan mo ng lumakad ng paluhod sa Quiapo” (“better start walking on your knees in Quiapo”) became popular for those who are begging God for miracles.
With uncontrollable number of devotees that visit Quiapo on Fridays, which even doubles on first Fridays of the month, many organizations help in ushering fellow devotees to order. Three large outdoor LED screens are provided for better viewing for people who can no longer be accommodated inside the Church. Mass servers, collectors, readers, and lay ministers are in full force ensuring that every needs of the Church especially during mass are being taken care of. The mass is being broadcast live on social media for other devotees.
Devotees who come to church of Quiapo are also admired for their generosity. They leave their alms in the collection bags carried during Mass or collection boxes that are positioned around the premises. Many give alms in form of Mass intentions that’s why additional booth for Pamisa is seen in the Church vicinity on first Friday and special occasions. Donations that are handed to the Parish office are given receipts. For those donations left in the donation boxes with complete donors’ information, the Parish office sends them their receipts thru mail with a short letter of thanks from a parochial vicar.
Security is never taken for granted. CCTV cameras are spread all over the premises with good numbers of guard and K9 units patrolling the area. Police are also visible on the plaza and the nearby streets. Taking pictures is strictly prohibited inside the church. A permit to do so can be obtained in the Parish office. Use of cellphones inside the church especially during mass are discouraged and people who do so are sometimes accosted by the volunteer church ushers.
It’s really difficult to be in Quiapo on Fridays especially if one has special needs and not accustomed to crowded areas. But devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno bear all these inconveniences just to be able to fulfill their own personal promises to the Lord. Truly, the devotion shown by the faithful every Friday in Quiapo Church is an expression of the Filipinos’ piety.
TRASLACION and the Whole Fiesta Season
The Traslacion or the feast of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno commemorates the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Reccollect Church in Intramuros to its present shrine, Quiapo Church. The transfer was done over 400 years ago and the Church commemorates it annually every 9th of January. Famous for its spectacular view of millions of people gathering in one religious event, the Traslacion of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno is considered one of the biggest Filipino fiestas known in the whole world.
Like any other feast, the grand celebration is anticipated with nine days Novena Masses that starts in the evening of December This also marks the start of many Church activities that are related to the much-celebrated fiesta. Such activities are the Barangay visitation where the replica image of the Black Nazarene is brought to all the Barangay within Quiapo district. The visitation includes an evening Street Masses sponsored by the Barangay.
In the olden days the Comite de Festejos used to build a stage in Plaza Miranda thirty nights before the feast. Different commercial establishments mostly around Quiapo, single or groups sponsor the shows which are attended by local celebrities and performers. Records shows that marching bands from the army, navy, air force, and other group offers a concert in thanksgiving to Nazareno on a schedule given to them. Commercial establishments also sponsors marching band that parade around the district a day before the Fiesta. They said the number of band counts from 50 to 70 depending upon the number of sponsoring firms. These practices were long gone although the hanging of banderitas on the streets of Quiapo remains as sponsored by the Barangays.
The image of the Black Nazarene is brought out of the church for procession two times before the renowned Traslacion procession. First is the Thanksgiving Procession. Year 2015 when this annual procession of the Black Nazarene was moved a day earlier from what used to be January 1. The changed was made after series of planning and consultation by the Comite de Festejos headed by the Rector and clergies of the Minor Basilica. The primary reason of the said change is to avoid some people going to the procession drunk and wasted from the New Year revelry. The new Rector/Parish Priest then of the Minor Basilica, Msgr. Hernando Coronel, also added that it is fitting that thanksgiving be done at the end of the year. The move also paves the way for the devotees of Nazareno to focus on the observation of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, which is celebrated by the universal church on New Year’s Day.
The second procession is popularly known as the Replica Procession. Hundreds of replica images brought by devotees, single or group in the early morning of January 7. The procession starts around two in the afternoon with a priest commencing the activity with a ritual blessing. The images and the devotees joining the procession are then blessed with holy water as the procession passes by the footbridge near the Church where priest, lay ministers and religious brothers are waiting. After the long line of replicas of the Nazareno, an image of the Black Nazarene is brought out of the church for the procession. The image of the Black Nazarene usually made it to the Church around nine or ten in the evening. After the procession, the devotees take their replica home with them. Only by this time the plaza and the Quezon Boulevard will be free for cleaning by the organized groups of volunteers.
A day before the Fiesta everybody focusses their attention to the vigil that is held in the Quirino Grandstand. The callejero image of the Black Nazarene is secretly brought to the Grandstand with the date and time only known to the rector. The Pahalik starts as soon as the image of the Black Nazarene was placed on the stage. The pahalik line formed by the people goes a long way as it occupies the nearby roads. The pahalik usually ends the next day, hours after the procession had left. While waiting for the vigil, prayer warriors lead the prayer. Marching band sponsored by the City office and drum and lyres band from the Nazarene Catholic School had their ground performance.
While regular mass schedule goes on in the church, a vigil starts at the grandstand before sundown. The vigil opens with the evening prayer with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration. After the prayer, the Parish Youth Ministry takes the stage with their prepared performance according to the theme of the celebration. The performance is cut into parts where a certain time is allotted for catechism or sharing by a guest bishop or priest.
It seems like the whole Quiapo Church was transferred to Luneta. The devotees are everywhere. They are wearing their maroon and yellow uniform that identifies them as a group that belongs to the Balangays, the cell group of the six big groups of Ihos del Nazareno . Devotees bring with them their own images of Nazareno. They also carried with them food and mats that they will use throughout the vigil. Vendors of religious articles, food, and water are present. Some environmental groups from the Church are present campaigning for proper garbage disposal. Confessions are made available for the devotees on the ground until before the Mass preparation starts.
Come midnight is the Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Rector of the Minor Basilica presides the Mass with hundreds of priest from the archdiocese and different part of the country concelebrating. The Archbishop of Manila graces the occasion and gives his reflection and sharing in the homily. This is the most solemn part of the program. Thousands of devotees fully participate in the mass. The solemn celebration usually last for two hours. Big personalities from the local and the national government also attend the Mass. They are given seats near the stage. The City Mayor of Manila is also Hermano Mayor of the Fiesta. The midnight mass finishes without any destruction compared to the Masses in the past which happens before the procession.
The program continues but this time the fiesta committees and many groups of devotees are now seen busy preparing for the procession. At exactly five o’clock in the morning, the procession rite is said by the Rector or the Archbishop. The morning prayers are filled with singing of Psalms and finish with the singing of The Lord’s Prayer.
At the signal of the Archbishop or the Rector, the procession starts. The image is carried by the devotees and installed it to the Andas, the carriage of the Black Nazarene during the whole procession. The people assigned to this task are from the Ihos del Nazareno who wore uniforms in yellow long sleeved tops with maroon stripes with the word ALAGAD printed on their back. They are the only people allowed to be on top of the Andas during the Traslacion. The Ihos del Nazareno take turns in guarding the Black Nazarene in the whole procession until it reaches the Church. The Andas moves through the effort of the mamamasan that are in front bearing the ropes on their right shoulder and the crowd behind pushing the andas. The direction that they follow comes from the person that is on top of the Andas who uses hand gestures, whistle signal, and voice command with an aid of a megaphone. The alagad on top also help other devotees who wish to briefly touch the statue or the cross with their towels. Some authors who wrote about the feast noted that they found it amazing that despite the indiscriminate passing on and throwing of towels, to and from the andas, it all find its way back to their rightful owner.
The procession moves very slowly following the assigned route. Devotees continue to arrive. Many stayed on specific places where they wait for the procession to come and to get a chance to carry the rope. Many medical casualties are recorded as the procession continues. Sometimes there are also cases of death. A large group of medical and rescue volunteers offers their help with partnership to the nearest hospitals in the city. All the report are being monitored and taken care of. A command center is put up by the church where the procession is monitored not only by church volunteers but also by men in uniforms from the government.
On January 9, 2014 the traditional Dungaw is revived and reincorporated to the Traslacion. The custom is the image of Nazareno stops as it reaches Plaza del Carmen. From the steel basilica of San Sebastian came out the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel accompanied by the rector of basilica. A short liturgy is followed as the crowd focusses to the image of Our Lady “watching” her son carrying the cross. Many devotees anticipate this part of the procession and wait all night near the Church to behold this solemn event. This scene reenacts the traditional way of the cross where Christ met His mother on His way to Calvary where He will be put to death. After the short ritual the procession continues.
The procession reaches the church before sunrise the next day. The crowd welcomes the Image of the Black Nazarene as it enters the main gate of the church. People are still throwing towels to be rubbed at the image or the cross one last time. The steel gate closes once the Black Nazarene has entered and will be opened shortly after the image was removed from the Andas. From its carriage the image is transferred to the Adoration Chapel where it will stay for safekeeping for the following days. The mamamasan is then welcomed inside the Church. Many of them walk in their knees towards the altar with eyes fixed on the image of the Black Nazarene enshrined in the center of the sanctuary. The rector of the Basilica gives his final blessing and thanks the mamamasan for their ardent devotion and sacrifice to carry the Black Nazarene back to its home.