Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church: the One who performs miracles, heals sickness and silences disturbed hearts amidst the chaos of its surrounding.

Black Nazarene Devotees

The great landmark here in the heart of Manila is Quiapo Church.  It is the home of the Black Nazarene, a place between the chaos of its surrounding and the silence you felt and received when praying.

Devotees flocked from all over the world to visit and give respect to the Nazarene. The Black Nazarene gives hope, perform miracles, heal the sick or provide a resting place for renewing one’s self.

I am not a devotee of the Black Nazarene, but I see to it that I would drop a visit by the Church whenever I am in Quiapo.  I am not a devotee though I always hear Him calling my name.  It was here that I sit for a long time, when I had problems I did not know where to go.  It was here that when the Lord’s Prayer was sung, and I felt that about a pail of cold water was poured on my heart. Awakening it, felt a touch from Someone’s hand, feeling that this Someone deeply cared for you. 

It was magical.  It was the way people sung, or the way they prayed, how they close their eyes, and even others who tried to walk through their knees, but the guards would not allow them.  Is it the way how common folks gathered with their old clothes not caring who is looking.  The most troubled guy is so common to see. Sometimes, you wonder if you happened to see a smiling one, everyone seemed serious. But all have in common, their faith to the Black Nazarene.

An Organized Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church had exerted great effort to make the church goers safe at all times.   As years passed by, they develop measures to make every Mass organized.  Railings were set up, so there would be free space available for the lining up for Communion.  Walking in knees towards the Altar is discouraged. 

Wheelchairs inside Quiapo Church for Black Nazarene devotees

And, for me, the most caring of these arrangements, was the visibility of wheelchairs on many aisles.  Holy Mass is attended by so many people, that the Church becomes so crowded and heat is a great factor, even though some giant ceiling fans were installed. The Church is not air-conditioned.  Due to heat and tightly packed patrons, fainting church-goers became a common situation.  And this is where these wheelchairs were used.  Visible guards would assist the fainted one.   They would pick up the one who fainted and carefully placed on the wheelchair.  Amidst the packed church-goers, pathways separated with railings are cleared of any obstruction. The patient was carried out without disturbing the solemnity of the Mass.  So very organized, all greatly planned.

Security for the Black Nazarene

To keep the Holy Mass organized, a group of guards are scattered on the whole area of the church.  They were the ones assigned to organizing the crowd from the alignment. They would pinpoint a one-more space free on a pew that can be filled by a standing person. These guards would remind you to take off your hats and they would always assist on emergency situations.   They are so effective that they had kept everything clear and organize.

The Holy Mass

The Mass is so solemn, always.  For you to attend Mass, especially on Fridays, you should be ready for the expected heat, thirst and the very thin distance of sweat bodies passing by your already sweat body, a light physical sacrifice.  You are here in Quiapo, to pray.  And if you will only open your heart and soul amidst the chaos, you will clearly hear the message of the Black Nazarene.  Promise.

The Unique Collection Bag

If every inch of the interior floor allowed for patrons of Quiapo Church is filled, the capacity would be great.  And every inch inside, and along way outside the church is an ordinary situation on a Friday Mass.  And when the part of the Mass were Offering is performed, there is also the collection wherein church-goers drop their donation or tithe to the collection bag. This collection bag is hanged over a thick stick that is carried by the assigned collector.

I had dropped mine several years on that red bag, until they changed the collection bag that it now looks like your piggy bank with an opening wherein you will insert your donation and it would drop down the bag.  The now-covered piggy-bank look collection bag is still carried through the stick of the collector, still the same, just covered.  It still collects your coins or paper bill. 

I had asked one of the collectors about this change. And, with a corner smile on his face replied that, to prevent sneaking from the collectors.  Oh my.  With lots of donations from the devotees of a fully-packed church, that’s a lot!  Maybe, he just got the wrong message, for the bag would flow, and paper bills might fall out, so they covered the bag, rather than making the collection bags bigger to prevent spilling out.

The Line to Black Nazarene

On the Quezon Blvd side of the Church, you can line-up outside the Church to have a chance to kiss the Nazarene. You can wipe with your small towel or handkerchief or Nazarene’s cloth to the Black Nazarene on the back side of the altar. The line starts on Quezon Blvd side wherein you would enter the gate leading to the Black Nazarene, the same Black Nazarene you saw inside of the Church, on its main altar.  For on the back of the altar, is a little opening wherein part of his body is exposed in order the devotees to have a chance to hold Him, kiss Him or wipe a piece of cloth on Him.

The line outside is usually so long, that it occupied the whole sidewalk of the Church. And, extended to  a third part of the Quezon Blvd that made the slow traffic to be more traffic to be considered a heavy traffic.  So do take note on the day of Friday, especially the first Friday of the month, which doubled the thousands of devotees and the line for the Nazarene occupied almost the whole part of the road.

Prayer companion for the Black Nazarene

Prayer Companion for the Black Nazarene 

On the back part of the church, after the lined pews, was a lady holding a rosary in one hand.  She sat on a small plastic chair with a back, and on her sides were a piece or two more of those plastic seats.  What were those extra chairs for, considering there were pews that were still available?  And, sometimes, when the Church is full, those plastic chairs remain vacant, those standing did not attempt sitting on them.

Until, one day, I saw an older lady sat on one of those chairs, and seemed they were both praying – the lady who seemed the owner of the chairs and the older lady who sat beside her. The lady prayed the rosary with the older lady, offered the prayer to the Black Nazarene.  Then, the older lady would pay the lady, or a certain amount of donation for what she had done – praying with her.  What would one call a job like this, a prayer warrior or a prayer companion?  It is very unique, only here in Quiapo Church.  And she is not the only prayer warrior here.  There is another one more.

Plaza Miranda Side

The main entrance of the Quiapo Church is facing Plaza Miranda.  The Plaza became an extension of the Church for people who cannot find any space inside the Church.  And, usually, bikers would be found here hearing Mass, for they are allowed to stand here with their bikes on their sides, just being aware not to distract pathways.

Travelling to Quiapo

How to Go to Quiapo from Quezon City or Pasig

If you are from Quezon City or Pasig, you can choose to ride the LRT2, you hopped off to the last station of Recto.  Walk to a pathway, an escalator, a bridge and stairs to arrive to D. Jose’s station of LRT1, and choose the train going to Baclaran.  Actually, it is only one station away.  Hopped off to Carriedo Station.

How to Go to Quiapo from Quezon City or Caloocan

If you are from Caloocan or the part of Quezon City where LRT1 is near, you can ride the LRT1 going to Baclaran, and hopped off in Carriedo station.

Try Jeepneys

You can choose to get out of the station, go down and out the road, look up to see where LRT1 is, cross the street under the LRT1 railway, and hopped in a jeepney going to Sta. Cruz.    Check the route of the jeepney, you can be mistaken of Divisoria route, because you can find jeepneys like this on the other side of the road but not under the rail transit foundation.  Always check if it is Sta. Cruz route.

Jeepneys going to Sta. Cruz can be requested to drop you off to Sta. Cruz Church, fare is at minimum.  You can pay a visit to this Church then proceed to Carriedo.  That is, going again where LRT1 is.  

Walking along Rizal Avenue, that’s the name of the road under LRT1 foundation, you would find Carriedo.  Look for Isetann Department Store and you are on the right track.  Looking along the farthest side of the street is the Quiapo Church. 

It would almost be the same with the LRT1 Carriedo station, just go down from the station, along Rizal Avenue.  Look for Isetann Deparatent Store and follow the people that somewhat lining up like in a procession, they are surely going to Quaipo Church or a place nearby it.

How to Go to Quiapo by Jeepneys

There are always options to ride jeepneys.  Jeepneys’ routes range from as far as Fairview to Baclaran.  It will bring you to Quiapo, just tell the driver to drop you to Quiapo.  Do not choose routes with Morayta as their last destination, it will not bring you to Quiapo, you need another ride to do so.

How to Go to Quiapo from Baclaran or Taft

If you are coming from Baclaran or Taft, jeepneys bound to Fairview, Proj. 8, Proj. 6, Cubao, Espana, Dapitan and Blumentritt were choices to go to Quiapo.

Actually, you can never missed Quiapo, unless you’re deeply asleep.  The place is so crowded that it is impossible that the jeepney will not slow down, or stopped to drop off passengers, or to wait for passengers to hop on.  Usually, jeepneys lined up to pick up for passengers.  Barkers will help them to fill their jeepney with passengers.  Barkers are persons who shout near the jeepney, offering the route of the jeepney to passengers waiting on the sides.  They will fill the jeepneys, and the driver will pay small amount for their help, amount can be in five pesos or more.

Other Choices on How to Go to Quiapo

There are still other choices like UV Express. These are close, air-conditioned vans that had almost the same route as jeepneys.  You can ride a cab, or grab from Grab app.  If using private vehicles, Waze app is the best to use to locate Quiapo.

QUIAPO SAFETY

As you walk where Quaipo Church is, and you feast your eyes on things being offered to you along the sidewalks, the peddlers with their makeshift carts and stores, be aware of your belongings. It is a must that bags, cellphones and money are in front of your body.  Your shoulder bag need a little clinging. Your cellphone more tacked-in on your pockets or better to put inside your clinging bag. Even your bag would cling to you if you forgot to cling on them.

If you have a backpack conveniently hanging at your back, it would be conveniently light in load, before you noticed it.  And because you are too busy looking and much entertained on everything selling from shorts, shirts, bags, stuff toys, fruits and more, dark-heart guys were also swiftly ransacking your bag, leaving you with no phone and no money when coming back home.

My Sad Experience

I always put my change on front pockets because I am too much aware of pick-pocketer. But, I was not ready to be pick-pocketed right in front of me, without even noticing it, until I made a few steps after.

The Plastic Bag Boy

All I am sure of, and definitely sure, was a boy about 10 year old, was selling plastic bags. Selling those colorful assorted bags for those shoppers who need an extra one for their loaded shopping hands.  These plastic bags were carried on his left hand bringing the load on his left shoulder. His left side is almost covered by the plastic bags. As he passed his covered left side in front of me, his right fingers swiftly and accurately picking the paper bills on my blouse’s front chest-level pocket. He had picked it up, under his plastic bags covered left side. As in, he knew my pocket very well that he had done it in just about five seconds, without even looking to the said pocket, and without me feeling it.

At least a step length of time, just one step and my money was gone.  And after a few steps and realized that something was wrong and holding and peeking on my pocket and automatically search the plastic vendor boy in the crowd, you would be quite questioning yourself if there were really plastic vendors in the vicinity?  I saw about three of them, but each one of them was gone now.

No evidence

Yes, I know.  It is bad to pinpoint someone that you had no evidence at all.  On that moment, yes, I’ve got none.  But after that incident, I became very observant. I witnessed younger plastic vendor boys, opening the zip of the handbag of a buyer of one of the stalls in sidewalk. The buyer was too busy checking the bags she would later pay, not noticing that another busy hand was opening her bag and picking her wallet. It was just a matter of seconds, and I was shocked and could not move. But the wave of people walking would push you to move in the direction the crowd was on. That when you happened to realize the situation, it would be hard to come back. And, of course, plastic vendor boys just disappeared.

Avoid Wearing Accessories

When in Quiapo, one is advised not to wear any accessory such as rings, earrings, necklaces and expensive watches.  Necklaces and earrings can be snatched and rings can be held up and also to other valuables especially new model cellphones.  So, be aware.  Even on jeepneys, drivers would remind their passengers about their necklaces and cellphones to hid while passing Quiapo up to the Quiapo bridge. 

I knew one who asked the driver to lessen the speed of his jeepney for a passenger need to hop in.  And this passenger sat in front of her.  And after just a little time, this passenger held her earrings and pulled it out.  She was shocked.  Her gold earrings with a closed lock, had been pulled out swiftly without damaging her ears, no blood, no wound.  The snatcher did it in just a snap, that he had unlocked it, pulled it out and jumped off from the jeepney.  What a talent.

Tighten your Hold

My seatmate on the jeepney was a student busy reading notes on her cellphone in Manila City Hall.  As we crossed the Quezon bridge, the bridge connecting Quiapo and Lawton, a hand dived from the side of the jeepney, snatching the cellphone.  And the snatcher ran against the jeepney’s traffic and jumped on the wall on the other side of the bridge, going down to a place where you would not wish to follow.  My seatmate could not do anything but to cry after the shock fades.

The New and Safe Quiapo

The incidents I had related were very ordinary in the vicinity of Quiapo Church just years back.  But when a change of administration happened, having Duterte as our President, and being firm to bring discipline in the country, you will greatly feel it in Quiapo.  I even don’t have any inkling or a sight, that it would be possible, but it did become possible. 

Nowadays, everyone walking or those passengers had their phones on their hands, not bothering of snatchers.  I cannot say that this is hundred percent improvement but as a point of view of a passenger and a resident of Manila who drop by to Quiapo always, I must say that I cannot believe that this is possible.  Before, I even witnessed lots of snatching, but now, since Pres. Duterte had seated, even a single snatching was a once-upon-a-time of a story.  So, it is possible.  Or maybe I became so old that my eyes had been weak to see?  But I do not wear glasses for I had clear vision.  Or maybe, the President’s vision is clear, to swipe all the wrong-doings.  Thumbs up!

You can definitely drop now to Quiapo and savor what it offers. I had made a list of 35 Things to Do Around Quiapo Church, for your guide.

Quiapo Traffic

A morning that consist of hurrying up for your school and office schedule would be different on a Friday, the Quiapo day, for Fridays are the days were devotees flock to the Church to hear Mass.  If it is Friday, you must exert more effort to be earlier on all your schedules, for a heavy traffic is a sure scenario.  If you can have another option not to pass by Quiapo, better.  You can try the LRT or another route like Sta. Cruz.  But if you had no option, just make it an hour earlier, and carry with you more patience.

 

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