Traslacion in pictures: 16+ hours of cops, chaos, and keeping the faith 2
A distraught devotee after a scuffle with the police near Ayala Bridge. Photograph by Gio Panlilio
Culture

Traslacion in pictures: 16+ hours of cops, chaos, and keeping the faith

While police religiously tried to keep things orderly, security measures prevented many devotees from keeping their cool and keeping the faith. Gio Panlilio and Jack Alindahao capture the rage, devotion, and fervor of a multitude 
Gio Panlilio and Jack Alindahao | Jan 10 2020

Gio Panlilio and Jack Alindahao are no strangers to the Black Nazarene procession every January held in Manila. But the two covered the 2020 Traslacion Thursday from its very early hours at the Luneta Grandstand and, just like many Nazareno devotees present, noted the changes: the unusually large number of cops, the wall they formed in front of the andas (the Nazareno’s carriage) and the sides of the procession, and the new route (avoiding the recently restored Jones Bridge and passing through the Ayala Bridge instead). These changes, on top of the zero vendor policy throughout the religious figure's Luneta to Quiapo church journey, created some negative tension in the crowd as well as sparked rage in many of the namamanata. 

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“With the new security measures, it was hard to tell and to gauge the crowd’s growing unease. The devotees were having difficulty getting close to the carriage at some point and, with the new route — and this year’s faster pace — they were even having a hard time figuring out where it was going to be,” says Panlilio. “We also felt like we were chasing the andas down the whole time.” 

Traslacion in pictures: 16+ hours of cops, chaos, and keeping the faith 3
Man in a Nazareno shirt crossing Quezon Bridge shields his eyes from the sun.

The rage and disappointment over the difficulty of approaching the Nazareno’s carriage is never more clearly illustrated than in one of the portraits Panlilio took (see banner photo): a male devotee in tears. “He had a scuffle with some of the policemen who were barricading the route near Ayala Bridge. It was the first time I’d seen a situation like that happen during the Traslacion and I was surprised at the tension between both sides. It was just difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that, as policemen, they were supposed to be there to maintain order and safety, and as a devotee, that man was there with a set of beliefs and values — and yet they both acted in a way that was against the reasons why they were there.” 

Panlilio’s comrade Jack Alindahao, however, had a slightly different experience, perhaps closer to those who were able to get into the fabled rhythm of the procession and was rewarded with being able to approach the andas. 

Traslacion in pictures: 16+ hours of cops, chaos, and keeping the faith 4
The procession began with the police barricading the early routes of the procession.

“When I first did Traslacion in 2018, I was in a different head space. I was more of a spectator and had no expectations of it,” says Alindahao. “My motivation this year was to be a participant more than just an observer. I wanted to be more involved in the procession as well as to get to talk to some devotees and learn about their faith.” 

Alindahao describes the experience as magical, being able to touch the rope leading to the carriage. “It seemed like a path to the rope opened itself to me and a voice told me to drop my camera and just go into the crowd,” he says. “My hands were shaking right after because I could not believe that with the thousands of people trying to touch the rope, I would be able to do it. A fellow devotee told me that as long as you open yourself up to the Nazareno’s blessings and have a strong faith, you will be able to approach the andas.

Traslacion in pictures: 16+ hours of cops, chaos, and keeping the faith 5
The lubid is said to bring blessings and grant devotees their wishes.

No matter the dissatisfaction of many, however, due to the introduction of new policies and strengthened security, the Traslacion experience remained as intense as processions past. Says Panlilio: “The heat and humidity from the sun and the bodies, the whistling and the voices in the crowd, the anticipation and nervousness — it was as palpable as it has always been.”

These photos illustrate the changes in this year’s procession, and the reaction from the faithful: 

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Police hold a rope to protect the path of the Andas.
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A group of kids wait for the andas to arrive in Nepomuceno Street.
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Devotees from Baclaran wait for the arrival of the andas.
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A nun blessing the devotees heading to the procession.
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Devotees resting by Quezon Bridge before the andas makes its turn to Hidalgo.
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A mother moving her daughter away from the mob of people coming from Arlegui Street.
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The procession was attended by young devtoees all over Manila.
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A devotee is carried away from the crowd minutes before the andas.
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The andas makes it way through Arlegui Street.
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Devotees pressed against each other on Arlegui Street.
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A man suffering from cramps gets assistance from fellow devotees.
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A group of police officers secure a barrier along the path of the carriage.
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A woman giving out water to the devtoees.
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Devotees await a shower of snacks.
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A young devotee breaks away from the main procession.
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Many walked the procession with bare feet.
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A devotee waits patiently for the andas to arrive near the end of its route by Quezon Bridge.
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A father and his son await for the andas to pass thru Quezon Bridge.
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Among the spectators.
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A man takes a break among the crowd.
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The crowd outside Quiapo Church.
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The mass after the Andas made its way inside Quiapo Church.
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A group of devotees on Quezon Bridge at sunset.

 

Photographs by Gio Panlilio and Jack Alindahao​