Black Nazarene, Aquino on Garin, 'Charlie' worldwide rally | The wRap

Today on Rappler.

Millions of devotees join the annual Black Nazarene procession winding through the streets of Manila. It starts at the Quirino Grandstand and ends at the Quiapo Church. Hundreds of thousands push and shove to get near the image, many of them barefoot. To the devotees, the statue represents suffering and salvation. The Feast of the Black Nazarene started in the 17century when a statue of Jesus Christ was transferred from Bagumbayan, now Luneta, to the Quiapo Church. Legend says the statue, originally ivory, turned black in a fire that hit a Mexico galleon bound for Manila in 1606. Around 8am this morning in Luneta before the procession could begin, a sea of people rushed the statue. At least 1 died from a heart attack. Katerina Francisco asks devotees what compels them to join what some people call a bizarre show of faith.

KATERINA FRANCISCO, REPORTING: This year's Feast of the Black Nazarene has a special meaning for some of its devotees. It comes a week before Pope Francis visits the Philippines for the first time.

For Robert Cabuz, the annual religious gathering is a show of solidarity of the Catholic faithful.

ROBERT CABUZ, NAZARENO DEVOTEE: Bilang Kristiyano, maganda 'yung mapakita natin 'yung pagkakaisa natin. Ipakita natin sa kanya na nagkakaisa tayong Pilipino, kung gaano natin kamahal ang kultura natin bilang Kristiyano. (As Catholics, it's good to show our unity. Let's show the them that we Filipinos are as one in our love for our Catholic culture.)

The devotees have their own reasons for braving the crowds. These girls say they're in it for the experience.

Makikipagsiksikan ka tapos pag naka-akyat ka sa taas, ang sarap ng feeling. (You squeeze your way into the crowd and when you get to reach the icon, it feels good.)

For 69 year old Saturnino Galang, it's the passing down of tradition.

SATURNINO GALANG, NAZARENO DEVOTEE: Sa ngayon, 69 na ako. Ito siya na mag-isa, kaya ipagpatuloy niya ang ano ko...pag hindi ko na kaya, siya magpapatuloy. (I'm 69 years old. My grandson will continue doing this when I can no longer do it.)

The reasons may vary, but one thing remains certain: these streets become a sea of yellow and scarlet In a massive show of faith for the ebony image of Jesus Christ.

Katerina Francisco, Rappler, Manila. 

Six days to go before the Pope arrives in the Philippines. Families of political prisoners and human rights victims appeal to Francis to intercede. Rights groups say there are nearly 500 political detainees in various penitentiaries in the Philippines. Pope John Paul II’s first visit to the Philippines in 1981 helped push then President Ferdinand Marcos to release political prisoners. Pope Francis is currently in the Vatican where he met with award-winning actress and rights advocate Angelina Jolie Thursday after the screening of the movie Unbroken at the Vatican. Unbroken is based on the true story of an Olympic athlete who survived a plane crash and post-traumatic stress disorder because of his faith.

President Benigno Aquino announces acting health secretary Janette Garin is the new head of the Department of Health. Garin will fill in the vacancy left by Enrique Ona in December last year. Ona resigned after a controversy involving allegedly overpriced vaccines. Aquino says, he is ‘very satisfied’ with Secretary Garin.

Thousands of people gathered in the streets again in France and around the world including New York, Washington and Canada. The Thursday rallies condemn the killing of 12 people by Islamist gunmen at Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Protesters carried placards bearing the words "Je suis Charlie"... which means “I am Charlie”... now a global cry for solidarity. Many also carried pens-- a symbol of press freedom. France raises its security alert level to maximum in greater Paris to the northern Picardy region where police are on a manhunt for massacre suspects, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. Cherif is a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for his involvement in sending fighters to Iraq.

Indonesian officials say they detected signals from the black boxes of AirAsia flight QZ8501. They came from the area where the tail was found, 12 days after the plane crashed into the sea. Search teams discovered the plane’s tail 30 meters or 100 feet underwater last Wednesday. Indonesian authorities say just 46 out of 162 bodies have been found.

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