Business as Usual for the Black Nazarene
MANILA, Philippines - Vendors in Quiapo stock their inventories before devotees flood the Plaza Miranda for the Black Nazarene. Devon Wong reports.
Towels fly. Banners line the skies. And crowds march to the beating of drums.
It’s a feast for the eyes, but this small spectacle is only a taste of what’s to come for the Feast Day of the Black Nazarene.
The Procession of Replicas gives devotees an opportunity to parade their personal tributes to the famous statue of a dark-skinned Jesus. And the loyalty of devotees keeps Ate Jon’s business afloat year round.
Ate Jon is a third generation vendor in Quiapo, but her clients come from across the map.
ATE JON, VENDOR: So many people. Foreigner, provincial, local.
Her husband, sister, son and daughter all manage separate stalls in the Plaza Miranda, but it’s devotees and the odd passing tourist that keep the family business running. Each January, busloads of devotees travel to Quiapo to represent their communities on the Feast Day of the Black Nazarene.
What’s the cost of being a devotee? Ate Jon says it’s her wishing candles that are her best sellers.
ATE JON, VENDOR: Pray to family, then to good health. This one is only 20 pesos only. So you buy a statue, this one is 500 or 600.
It’s the strong faith of devotees that keep them frequenting Ate Jon’s booth and the Quaipo church each year.
ERLINA SESTINA, DEVOTEE: We started when were children. Even our replica is about thirty years old. It's important to us because in times of struggle, we approach the Black Nazarene for help and our problems are solved somewhat. It really is very important to us.
If imitation marks the highest form of flattery, this year’s Black Nazarene can expect a strong showing.
Devon Wong, Rappler, Quiapo