Every year, the feast of the Black Nazarene is celebrated and condemned; celebrated by those who take part and condemned as a hazard to life and limb by those who don’t care to go and watch it. Only those who go know why they come away feeling they must go again.
Those who don’t go condemn it as an embarrassing display of mass ignorance; a blight on our reputation; but our reputation for what, for mass ignorance in our repeatedly bad choices in national and local elections?
There is also the fake concern that poor people will be hurt or die. This concern is incompatible with our real worry that there are too many poor people already, which is why we fling them condoms instead of give them jobs.
In fact, no one in this centuries-old feast was ever trampled to death because there is never a stampede; only the slow procession of the faithful wanting it never to end. Compare that to the mob that crashed against the gates of a popular make-a-fool-of-yourself-cash & carry show where 70 perished. Compare that to democracy’s only feast day every 3 and 6 years when 45 million voters, real and fake, mass at the polls to trash the future of their country with bad electoral choice; if they really choose or the machine does it for them.
For the past couple of years, a route has been fixed in place of the old one from Quiapo Church and back again for God knows how long it will take. This change is against the spirit of the feast, which is not supposed to know where the procession will go or how it will take to return to the Church. Supposedly, there was a church at the Luneta hundreds of years ago from where the procession started but did it go to another church, in Quiapo?, or back the church wherefrom it came? It undermines the significance of the feast, which is the rescue of Christ by his people from the custody of the institutional church. This is why the procession began with people wailing outside Quiapo church for the Christ to be let out while church pretends adamantly to refuse them. Until a sea of white towels and handkerchiefs covers the square, the people waving for Christ to be let go. Then the church doors open and two stout ropes are thrown to the crowd, which grabs them and pulls them in this and that direction and the devotees go. To be sure, the new, more spacious and wider route has drawn a bigger crowd showing the faith of the Filipino far exceeding its old limits and old places.
Sure, people return to their sins after the feast, back to drinking, laziness, unemployment and ignorance but everyone sins only against himself; whereas every 3 and 6 years, in democracy’s feast of fools, voters sin against their country again and again with their bad choices and no one does anything about it.