The Feast of the Black Nazarene: At the Periphery (Audio Slideshow)

Text, photography and audio recording by JO A. SANTOS

MANILA — On January 9, several million people flocked to Manila to attend the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene, known for the masses jostling to get near or have their handkerchiefs touch the centuries-old wooden statue of Jesus Christ, brought to the Philippines from Mexico during the galleon trade.   
While the most familiar scenes of this event are the crowds risking life and limb out of religious fervor, less attention is given to the quieter, more prosaic scenes of other devotees — many of them poor and working-class women, children, and elderly — who also join the procession.  Rather than get squeezed into the mostly male crowds who gather around the original statue using their physical strength and tenacity, many devotees walk alongside replicas of the Black Nazarene, practicing the same customs but adapting them to their needs and asserting their own forms of devotion. 
These devotees at the periphery show a capacity to co-mingle religiosity with the practicalities of having families, earning a living, and the need for safety.  Perhaps their show of devotion is less sensationalistic but it can be just as extraordinary and moving to behold. (

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