The annual Quiapo Church Black Nazarene fiesta (Traslacion) and Filipinos’ fascination with crowding

It remains quite the modern-day curiosity how more than a million people would troop to Manila for a chance to catch a glimpse and possibly — hoping against hope — touch the “revered” Black Nazarene figurine. I don’t get it. How is this crowding around a relic different, say, from the 30,000 Filipinos several years ago who trooped to the ULTRA stadium to see an episode of Wowowee live and, later, stampeded all over one another and literally trampled the shit out of 78 such hopefuls?

What is it about Filipinos and clambering all over one another in large numbers? Our most famous seminal events almost always involve crowding. The much-touted 1986 Edsa “revolution” was a crowding exercise as much as its astoundingly embarrassing sequel, the 2000 Edsa “Dos” “revolution” that bumped up to power the much-loved President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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Similarly, the most infamous disasters in Filipino history involved crowding too. The worst peacetime maritime disaster in history happened when over-crowded Sulpicio inter-island ships sank and dragged down with them thousands of Filipino souls.

And since time immemorial to today, the infernal traffic jams that have come to characterise the Philippines’ capital city serve as a stark reminder that beyond our enormous numbers, not much else makes Filipinos a remarkable enough people to differentiate from all the rest in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Indeed, one of the biggest issues that defines the Philippines today is — in general — literal macro-level overcrowding. An overcrowding of a land rapidly wasting away right under Filipinos’ feet is the single biggest risk to the health and economic security of future Filipinos — maybe even the region, considering that the Philippines is becoming one big humanitarian disaster just waiting to happen.

The Black Nazarene fiesta and its crowd of millions of people epitomise this fight over small spaces by immense numbers of Filipinos. That it is one of our most cherished traditions says a lot about the character of our people. At least Wowowee promised something to those who died chasing their hopes. The Black Nazarene represents a belief system that promises nothing in life and everything in death.

16 Replies to “The annual Quiapo Church Black Nazarene fiesta (Traslacion) and Filipinos’ fascination with crowding”

  1. Looks like the allegorical novel “Hope for the Flowers” by Trina Paulus which was published on September 1972 (martial law) had conveyed it’s spiritual or political meaning to what was happening in our country and in the U.S as well. The two focal characters were aptly named Stripe ( loyal, true) and Yellow (coward democrats or republicans).
    The story ended happily for Stripe and Yellow but ironically not for the chameleon-like people in the Philippines.

    1. How the fuck did hope for the hope flowers have political meaning in it? Oh, here’s one way to interpret it though: Stripe = Right, Yellow = Left and the masses are idiots.
      Besides, i dont see any caterpillars forming pillars IRL, so that book is allegorical trash. Yes, I can say that because i spent some time debating with my high school english teacher (over 20 years ago) on how this was considered “reading material” beside novels such as “more than conquerors” and “The kitchen god’s wife”.
      And no one needs to be reminded that it was published during martial law, because it has absolutely nothing to do with it. Trina Paulus was a american anti-communist who just so happened to write a simple story that could be interpreted in so many ways.

  2. Overcrowding, which is one symptom of the population instability, continues. It continues, not because the overcrowded people remain, but because they leave. Too many of those who overcome the economic necessity to overcrowd get out, instead of improving their lot within the neighborhood. They are quickly replaced by others who currently have little economic choice. The buildings, naturally, wear out with disproportionate swiftness under these conditions.

  3. >> The Black Nazarene represents a belief system that promises nothing in life and everything in death.

    Filipinos worshiping idols again. Atheists find the First Commandment baffling or offensive, but I think it had a real, practical purpose: to prevent humans worshiping things that should not be worshiped and thereby degrading and harming themselves (as they do on this occasion, in all sorts of ways).

    1. Don’t be such a killjoy Marius! Things like these are everywhere in the world!

      In Mexico, they have their Festival of the Dead wherein celebrations include decorating graves, burning incense, prayers and chants for the dead and the consummation of much food and drink.

      Japan’s Kanamara Matsuri (Metal Penis Festival) centered around a steel phallus that is paraded in a ‘mikoshi’. The festival includes a wide range of phallic symbols and attracts a colorful crowd.

      And in India, Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean.

      1. You miss the point. The Philippines is supposedly a Christian country. I’ve seen the Black Nazarene event. It is not an occasion for enjoyment. It is dark and vile. You can feel the forces of the underworld swelling up around that miserable mass of people and spreading hopelessness and discontent through willing and receptive minds.

        In other words, it is a celebration of everything Christianity is not. It degenerates into a drunken, violent scrum that invariably results in injuries and deaths. The aftermath is pathetic – trash everywhere, and red-eyed drunks and addicts wandering around having forgotten what they turned up for. Come to think of it, it is actually what benign0 said: a ritualized summary of everything that’s wrong with this country.

        Like I said, there’s a REASON idolatry is forbidden in the First Commandment. Of course, if you’re happy to accept that it is a completely un-Christian celebration of the worst of Filipino culture, that’s fine. Just stop pretending it’s something to do with “devotion”, God, Christianity, or anything else that’s positive.

  4. I have no problem of people crowding themselves, to worship statues, or “idols”. Whatever you do to increase your faith in your god; do it. If you worship: the golden calf, the statue of Buddha, the picture of Cory Aquino, the statue of Ninoy Aquino, Jr., your pig, your carabao, etc…I don’t have any problem.

    The problem for me is : if you blow yourself up and the infidels (us); in the belief that you go to Paradise and have 72 virgins, as wives. Or, if you shoot and kill people, with the same reward belief. Or, if you run over people, with the same reward belief.

    So, Nazareno, or no Nazareno. go for it !

    1. Sure, you can degrade yourselves by worshiping demons and idols if you want to. That’s your right. Just don’t act all surprised at the inevitable consequences, don’t pray to God to save you, and don’t imagine anyone will show you any more respect than they show to, say, ISIS terrorists.

      You’ve made your choice to disobey the First Commandment (and all of the others too). So accept the outcome and stop whining about how unhappy your country is. What else did you expect?

      1. Who’s whining?! What’s definitely even more unhappy is for someone needing to pretend or claim as somebody else he is not, has no country to identify himself with and get himself stuck in another country he despise and does not learn to appreciate! How despicable!

        1. Well done. If the facts are true but you don’t like them and can’t contradict them, try an ad hominem. Always works, at least in the Philippines and on the internet.

  5. This is not fascination of crowding by the Filipinos. It’s how the Filipinos shows their “Faith in God” for years and years and more years to come. Don’t ever forget it. As the saying goes …comes hell or high waters we’ll fill His sanctuary…

  6. Pinoy crab mentality at its finest. Most of them go there hoping to get their wishes granted by a statue. God to them is some kind of a personal genie. Nasa diyos ang awa nasa tao ang gawa.

  7. That is faith at its finest. It has been around for thousands of years of showing faith and devotion similar to that of Black Nazarene long before your birth. Faith does not require logic but it becomes part of human lives. It is the objective to enter inside heaven.

    Most peeople live in this world for less than 100 years and are often forgotten by the world after death. That is unfortunate and is really nothing as compared to eternity in heaven with God.

    This is a challenge to all of us. Either we trade our 100yrs or less for temporary pleasure and comfort in this world by continually sinning or we live a pure life and an eternal life follows in heaven with God. Those who chose the former will suffer eternal hell – an everlasting suffering. It is extreme as compare to a person who suffers temporarily in jail for the wrong he has done.

    1. The same faith that breeds hatred and divides people. This so called faith has been corrupted as a tool to control the moronic masses, create atrocities and make religious leaders wealthy and influential while they are at it. You are just another sinful hypocrite spewing garbage.

  8. Filipinos (99.999%?) love crowding. They LITERALLY crowd for everything. Nowhere in the world have I seen people crowding even for a simple, ordinary gathering such as birthday parties or other parties. I just do not understand why they do so. Philippines is the ONLY country where Filipinos even queue to get into a mall.

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