Monday, January 10, 2005
The Feast of the Black Nazarene in the Manila district of Quiapo this year was as eventful as it's ever been what with the threat of suicide bombers joining the fray, and in my chasing the appointed hour of when the gates of the church are flung open and the rope which pulls the carriage of the nazarene is hurled out onto the massed throngs of barefooted men and some very hardy women in their fulfillment of this yearly vow, I decided to observe the procession at ground level and rubbed solid flesh and elbows, jostling for space with the devotees while attempting to photograph the scene, and it's definitely a different view than the usual high angle picture taken from atop by most photographers from any of the perches of buildings and platforms around plaza miranda.
Of course, I couldn't get any closer than my own physical size and safety would allow, as I saw women and children whom despite warnings from the men were clearly caught in a very painful, very dangerous squeeze which the outward force of thousands massed together in a space that can only contain several hundred people in a normal crowd, could create in a matter of seconds. Being trampled underfoot is the worst possible fate, as all of plaza miranda, quezon boulevard, villalobos, hidalgo, echague, and carriedo streets resemble the super-heated sweat and packed fury of a literal human tidal wave. It is a yearly, self-inflicted, primal and gut-wrenching cry to the heavens.
The rites and tradition of this Philippine fiesta and procession simply defy plain, commonsense logic. But then again, there haven't been too many events to apply that to in the past years or so.