'Black Nazarene tradition still relevant in modern society'

Aleta Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2018 05:23 PM

Devotees try to reach the unbalanced image of the Black Nazarene during the 2018 Traslacion which began at the Luneta Grandstand in Manila, Tuesday. Millions of Black Nazarene devotees are expected to participate in the annual procession, which commemorates the transfer of the venerated image to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters
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MANILA - Even in a modern society, the Feast of the Black Nazarene will remain relevant, according to a sociologist. 

"Usually, ang sinasabi natin kapag nagiging moderno ang lipunan, mas bumababa yung [ganitong religious] practice, pagsasagawa ng ganitong bagay," sociologist Dr. Manuel Victor Sapitula of the University of the Philippines said on Tuesday. 

(Usually, it is said that if a society becomes modern, this kind of religious practice declines.)

But this is not the case in the Philippines where there are instabilities in modern life that bring people to follow religious traditions such as the traslacion, he added. 

"Name-maintain niya ang relevance niya. It does not necessarily mean na dahil iba na ang panahon, uprooted na (tradition), parang nagkakaroon ng bagong batayan para madala ng mga tao yung relevance ng ganitong uri ng gawain sa kanilang pang araw-araw na buhay," he said.

(It's able to maintain its relevance. It does not necessarily mean that since the times have changed, it would be uprooted. People find new relevance to this kind of practice in their daily lives.) 

Sapitula told DZMM that the Feast of the Black Nazarene is also viewed as an annual cultural event that showcases the different dimensions of Filipino culture.

He also attributed to modern technology and the opportunity to travel the reasons for the growing number of people who attend the event in Quiapo.

"Sine-celebrate din naman ang Black Nazarene sa ibang lugar, sa malalayo na hindi makakapunta sa Quiapo, pero talaga kumbaga nerve center niya ang Quiapo, iba talaga para sa mga deboto ang makapunta sila ng Quiapo nitong araw na ito," he said.

(The Black Nazarene is also celebrated in other places for people who can't go to Quiapo, but its nerve center is Quiapo.) 

This tradition that dates back to the 1600 is an expression of collective faith, he said. 

Despite the health risks and dangers in joining the Traslacion, people still leave their comfort zones to join in order to validate their faith.

"Very enforcing element kasi yung lumalabas ka at nakikita mong hindi lang pala ako, may dimension na nakikita mo yung sense of solidarity, na sa pagaaral ng relihiyon sa sosyolohiya ay siya talagang core function ng relihiyon sa kahit anong lipunan: para magbigay ng isang sense ng pagkakaisa sa kapwa na naniniwala sa ganung practice," he said.

(The element of going out and seeing that it's not just you, it's a very enforcing element, there's a dimension of witnessing a sense of solidarity. In the study of religion, in sociology, it's a core function of religion in any society: to give a sense of community among devotees.) 

He explained that people from all walks of life go through new concerns, problems and issues that give further meaning to their faith.

"Hangga't mayroong sufficient resources ang mga tao, i-express ang kanilang mga saloobin sa kanilang pinagdadaanan in a context of a prayerful rituals na katulad ng nakikita natin. We can expect that it (Black Nazarene) will be around for years to come," he said.

(As long as people have resources, they will express their sentiments in a context of prayerful rituals which is what we are seeing. We can expect that it will be around for years to come.)