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Tomorrow, Quiapo is set to become even more chaotic than usual. [firstpara] It's the feast of the Black Nazarene where thousands of devotees and a handful of uzis, vendors, and journalists flock to Quiapo to celebrate what has become the biggest procession in the country.

Here's a quick explainer so that we don't go into this in blind faith.

What is the Black Nazarene?
If you absolutely have no idea what it is, you should be ashamed of calling yourself a Filipino. The Black Nazarene is a life-sized wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ, carved by an unknown Mexican carpenter.

It is the centerpiece of the largest annual procession in the Philippines, held in Quiapo Manila every January 9, which attracts thousands upon thousands of pious devotees.

The statue’s trip to the Philippines was a long one, coming all the way from Mexico in a Spanish galleon. Today, the Black Nazarene can be found at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (a.k.a. Quiapo Church) in Quiapo, Manila.

Why is it black?
Brought by the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries to the Philippines in the 1600s, the Black Nazarene was originally not black. Like most other religious images produced in that era, it was originally white.

During the trip to the Philippines though, the ship caught fire, burning the image, though not totally destroying it. Taken as some sort of miracle, the people sought to preserve it, and it is said today that touching the revered image results in miracles.


WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES
ILLUSTRATION BY: FRANTZ ARNO SALVADOR

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