“Bilang deboto ng Nazareno, naniniwala ako na aakayin ni Maria ang puso ng mga tao patungo sa puso ng kanyang anak na si Hesus.”
Michael Vidal, 69, single, a volunteer at the souvenir shop of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or San Sebastian Church in Manila is a devotee of the Black Nazarene. He was not able to come to Quiapo Church because of the restrictions. Instead, he found himself in front of the Basilica of Mount Carmel doing his job of selling souvenir items.
The present situation does not affect his faith or his thoughts about the Nazareno Fiesta celebrations. He believes that Mary, as the Mother of Christ will make way to lead the hearts of the devotees closer to her son, Jesus Christ.
“Mas maganda po na kahit naman po tayo ay deboto ng Poong Nazareno, nandito naman ang mahal na ina, pwede naman tayo dumulog sa kanya, through our Lady of Mount Carmel. Gagabayan niya tayo patungo sa kanyang anak.
Vidal, who has been serving San Sebastian’s souvenir shop for many years mentioned Mary’s unconditional love for her children who are devotees of the Nazareno. He said that Mary’s love is expressed during the “Dungaw” held during Traslacion.
“Pagnagpipiyesta, dito naman nagaganap ang Dungaw, dinadaan naman talaga ang Poong Nazareno sa kaniyang ina. Dito makikita natin na gagawin lahat ni Maria para sa anak niya. Ganun din sa mga buhay natin, isipin natin na walang ina na hindi gagawin ang lahat para sa kanyang anak,” Vidal stressed.
The traditional “Dungaw” is part of the Traslacion or procession of the image of the Black Nazarene carried by the “andas”. It will stop at Plaza del Carmen where San Sebastian Church is located. The Blessed Mother will glance at the Black Nazarene from a window.
This year’s celebration of the Black Nazarene is far different from the previous years said Vidal. All the streets leading to Quiapo Church were clean but empty. No devotees line up to come, touch and pray to the Nazareno last January 9’s fiesta.
“Kaya nga sabi ko sa mga kakilala kong deboto, huwag tayong malungkot kasi kahit hindi man tayo makapasok doon sa mismong Poong Nazareno sa Quiapo ay manalig tayo lalo na ngayon pandemya,” Vidal said.
“Nandiyan pa rin ang Poong Nazareno. Siya ang ating tagapagligtas. Gagabayan niya tayo, proproteksiyunan at hindi niya tayo pababayaan kahit gaano man kabigat ang ating problema,” he said.
“Ang Poong Hesus Nazareno ay mapaghimala kaya manalig lang tayo sa kanya. Kahit saan siya dalhin madarama mo ang pagmimilagro niya,” he added.
The Traslacion was canceled for the second time this year. All activities related to the feast day were also suspended by the government to avoid the influx of devotees at Quiapo Church due to the increasing cases of Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant.
Devotees were earlier discouraged to come to Quiapo Church after the government approved its closure from January 7-9, 2022. Instead, Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula assured the devotees that the fiesta will still be celebrated online through the Holy Eucharist.
“Hindi ako sang ayon na isarado ang simabahn ng Quiapo ng basta basta lang o ng walang dahilan. Yearly naman natin ginagawa iyang debosyon natin. Pero sinabi ng gobyerno na isara para sa kapakanan ng lahat at temporary lang naman hanggat nandiyan ang virus, wala tayong magagawa. Kailangan sumunod tayo,” Vidal said. (Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)