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THE sight of a sea of devoted followers showing their unwavering faith to the Black Nazarene under the scorching heat of the sun year after year never ceases to amaze me.
I’m sure that a lot of people here and in other parts of the globe are equally overwhelmed by the Feast of the Black Nazarene and the procession being observed by devotees in honor of the icon.
Faith that the centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ has miraculous powers that can heal incurable diseases or provide good fortune has driven these pilgrims from all over the country to attempt to touch or get close to the image, even if they push and claw their way in the process.
During last Monday’s feast, more than a thousand devotees were treated by medics. Most patients became dizzy, fell into a fever or suffered high blood pressure. And some of them were provided medical assistance more than once.
Prior to the procession back to Quiapo, some devotees were hurt when a steel railing at the Luneta Grandstand fell on them. Three of them were injured and suffered broken bones while four others fainted due to suffocation and had to be taken to the Ospital ng Maynila.
Three women suffered broken bones after falling and being trampled by other devotees while attempting to climb the icon’s carriage.
People in crutches, on wheelchairs or suffering from other ailments who are too weak to shove their way through the crowds were seen from a distance following the procession.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), agents in civilian clothes and even snipers were scattered to tighten security for some 2.5 million devotees.
In order to thwart any attempt by terrorists or anti-government forces to bomb the occasion, signal jammers with a one-kilometer radius were also applied, rendering cell phones useless.
Despite the difficulties to their health and safety along with the threat of terrorism, these devotees have endured the procession and will continue to do so to fulfill their vow of faith to the Black Nazarene.
As one devotee puts it, he will continue to attend the procession in a display of true faith even if he gets hurt in the process or at the cost of his life.
Can anyone blame him since some of his fervent prayers have been granted?
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)