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Patotoo: Ijos of the past and present united in devotion to the Black Nazarene

by Bryan Gadingan

Recently updated on January 8, 2024 01:10 pm

THE Philippines, a country noted for its rich cultural and religious traditions, celebrates a variety of festivals that represent its people’s strong faith. Traslacion 2024, the first after three years, will begin on January 9, with millions of Filipinos expected to attend.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene, also known as the “Traslacion,” is a religious celebration that brings millions of followers from all across the country, making it one of the country’s greatest religious gatherings.

The term Traslacion procession is taken from the Spanish term meaning “passage” or “movement.”

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

The Feast of the Black Nazarene, celebrated each year, is the main point of this religious devotion, the “Traslacion.” This is a massive procession in which millions of barefoot followers try to touch, or at least be near, the beloved image. 

Ijos of the past

In an interview with republicasia, Philip Manabat, chairman of Barangay 621 District 6, Manila City, revealed that he began his journey as an Ijos in 1978. The feast will be celebrated for the 46th time in Traslacion 2024.

“Nagsimula ako noong ako’y binata pa, 1978. Medyo maaga kaming nawalan ng ama, kaya pinanghawakan ko na siya na ituloy ‘yung pamamanata niya (his father),” Manabat explained, as his start of his dedication.

But he also carries a deeper sense as to why he carried on, decades after he started.

“Isang dagok sa buhay ko ang dumating, nagkaroon ako ng babaeng anak at sa hindi inaasahan nagkaroon siya ng leukemia noong 2 years old palang siya,” he explained.

“Well, sa buhay ko parang kailangan ko talaga siya eh. Kailangang kailangan ko. Ang dami niyang nagawa sa buhay ko. Naging matatag ako sa pagsubok, hanggang sa naging punong barangay ako noong 2002,” he added.

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

When Manabat became a punong barangay, he infused his own belief by ensuring that each barangay has a replica of the aforementioned figure. The number of adherents inside their barrio has grown more than before.

Manabat, who has been a devotee for quite some time, says that a lot has changed in terms of how the procession is carried out and how people’s faith has become stronger.

“Malaki (the changes), lalo na noong panahon ng pandemic na talagang may mga mahal tayo sa buhay na tinamaan noong sakit na ‘yon,” he continued, emphasizing how the pandemic inspired followers to have more faith.

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

“Lagi kong sinasabi na, ‘Lord alam kong may way ka na mabigay sa amin yung kalakasan ng katawan, maligtas ang aming mahal sa buhay para maiwasan itong sakit na ito,” he went on to say.

“Mga bagong kabataan akala nila simple lang ang buhay. Ako hindi ako naniniwala na lahat ng tao tatanda eh. Life is short, hindi lahat aabot ng 60, so dapat isentro natin ang panginoon sa ating buhay,” he remarked.

Manabat is also pleased to see the parade returning to how it was before the pandemic ravaged the entire country, causing everyone to stay at home as mass gatherings were not permitted.

“Sobrang blessed na itong taon na ito, inopen na nila ulit ‘yung pagkakaroon ng intact na ibalik ‘yung dating nakagawian para sa mahal na poong Jesus Nazareno,” he shrieked.

The Gen Z Devotee

Aeron Hibon, a 21-year-old Gen Z devotee, began his journey in 2017. This was significantly affected by his family, who is also a Black Nazarene follower.

“Ang pinaka naaalala ko na kwento sa akin ng mga magulang ko is about sa krus na lagi niyang bitbit. ‘Yung krus daw na ‘yun is parang lahat nung paghihirap, lahat ng sacrifices na mayroon siya,” Hibon explained.

“So sa tuwing uma-attend kami sa pista ng Quiapo, lahat ng struggles, lahat ng problema, bitbit din namin ‘yun habang naglalakad kami patungo sa simbahan,” he went on to say.

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

The observance of the Black Nazarene’s feast has received mixed reactions over the years. Some have expressed strong support, while others have criticized the idea of worshiping a wooden figure.

This, however, is not the same as being a devotee. “Para sa mga deboto kasi, iba yung paniniwala namin sakanya, iba yung pananampalataya na mayroon kami sakanya,” he said.

“Tuwing nagsisimba kami sa Quiapo, o tuwing uma-attend kami sa piyesta ng Black Nazarene, iba ‘yung relief sa amin bilang mga deboto,” he said of their faith.

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

They began following the faith after experiencing severe financial difficulties in prior years. “Wala kaming malapitan at makapitan, so doon talaga kami nagsimulang magdasal sakanya,” he shared.

“Ayun, taon-taon unti-unti nagkakaroon ng trabaho si Papa, nagiging stable na ‘yung loob ng bahay. So talagang totoo siya, maniniwala ka lang at samahan mo ng sikap, magkakaroon ng solusyon lahat,” Hibon claimed.

Despite his strong confidence in the Black Nazarene, Hibon feels that things will only happen if someone makes them happen. Faith in him isn’t enough if you don’t back it up with deeds.

A safe 2024 Traslacion

The Feast of the Black Nazarene is a monument to the Filipino people’s unwavering faith. It is a religious ceremony that has evolved into a cultural phenomenon that has united millions in a communal demonstration of devotion. 

With its rich history and symbolism, the Black Nazarene continues to inspire and reinforce the spiritual links of the Filipino nation, making it a distinct and treasured tradition in the country.

Photo Courtesy: republicasia

Seeing two generations share their faith and devotion demonstrates that the faith that devotees share is strong and consistent. Their religion is motivated by a personal purpose for continuing this practice.

Time may have passed, but faith is the ultimate guarantor that the celebration of the Black Nazarene’s feast will always live on in the hearts of its adherents. 

Everyone will aspire for a meaningful and safe Traslacion 2024 this year, as they have in past years. May the regulations issued by various authorities guide everyone. #RepublicAsiaTraslacion2024



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