Meet the men who form the 'human bridge' of Traslacion
MANILA, Philippines – In the Feast of the Black Nazarene, sacrifice takes on a profound meaning for devotees, even if it means being the parts of a "human bridge."
Every year, dozens of male devotees gather at the center island of Quezon Boulevard in the Quiapo District of Manila to help passersby switch sides.
It forms as early as 5 am on January 9 and disappears after the Black Nazarene arrives at the Quiapo Church at around 2:30 am of January 10. The platforms? The own knees, shoulders, and backs of a group fellow devotees.
It is an efficient operation: Crossers reach up their hands and are pulled up by a devotee standing atop the isle. The crossers thrust themselves up through the "human steps". In going down to the other side, another devotee is ready with both arms raised for a catch.
They do this all for free and out of devotion to the Black Nazarene.
For Mark Lambino, 25, a devotee who has been part of the bridge for a dozen years, he sees himself as one with the sacrifice of Jesus as he carried the cross — the image of the Black Nazarene. (READ: Things to know about the Feast of the Black Nazarene)
"Namamanata eh. Taon-taon, ginagawa namin ito. Bale kaming pamilya ko, tapos ako tumutulong para 'di mahirapang umakyat dito. Kasi mahirap ditong daanan eh,” Lambino said.
(This is part of our vow. We do this every year, me and my family. We are helping people so they don’t struggle to climb, because it is hard to climb this way. It’s because it’s difficult to pass through here.)
Lambino said that they were simply providing for a need. The Quezon Boulevard is the portal between the Quiapo Church and the San Sebastian Church area. The former is where the Black Nazarene begins and ends its procession, while the latter is the site of many stops during the Traslacion.
The San Sebastian Church is, in fact, the venue of the traditional Dungaw, where the image of Mary peeks from the terrace to "look over (dungaw)" the suffering Black Nazarene.
For this reason, hundreds of thousands cross the center island of the bustling boulevard, and there, Lambino and his "brothers" stand by with open arms.
The overwhelming does not discourage the devotees. According to 19-year-old Rene Inso, Jr, it is all part of the sacrifice.
And it isn't just empty sacrifice. He sees the human bridge as a path they created for devotees to go to where they need to be to be closer to the image.
"Kaya po kami nagsasakripisyo para sa kanila mapapunta lang sila sa pinupuntahan nila. 16 years old, nagsimula na po ako (We are sacrificing for them, for them to reach where they need to go. I started at 16 years old)," Inso said.
Inso is also saving up grace for his wish: that his family be complete again. He shared that his wife had left him with his child.
"Pinagdadasal ko po na sana bumalik na po sila (I pray that they return to me)," he said.
What's hope for Inso is energy for Lambino. All the exhaustion is well worth it as it gives him the yearly fix for his faith. The devotion, he said, overflows to his personal and work life.
“Pagkatapos nito, balik na naman sa trabaho, basta ang pananampalataya ko sa Panginoon 'di nawawala (After this, I will return to my job, but my faith in the Lord will remain)," Lambino said. – Rappler.com
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