Devotees, flood victims troop to see Black Nazarene in CDO

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2012 06:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2012 02:38 AM

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines - Devotee Editha Bayon wiped her handkerchief on the image of the Black Nazarene then clutched it near her chest, hoping this would relieve from her illnesses.

She said she is suffering from high-blood pressure and osteoperosis and prayed to the Black Nazarene to heal her.

But also included in her prayers are those who died from tropical storm Sendong in her hard-hit city.

"Pinagdasal ko ang mga biktima ng baha," she said in the local dialect. "Sana madala sila sa langit at patawarin sila sa kanilang mga kasalanan."

Bayon was among the many devotees who trooped to the Black Nazarene Church in Cagayan de Oro on the eve of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday. She and other devotees lined up hoping to kiss and touch the replica of the Black Nazarene.

In 2009, the Quiapo Church in Manila turned over a replica of the Black Nazarene to the Nazareno Parish.

At the Mass on Sunday morning, Msgr. Rey Monsanto, parish priest of the Jesus Nazarene Church, reminded churchgoers that the main message of the Feast of the Black Nazarene is that we have to turn to God and say sorry for our sins.

Around 4,000 to 5,000 devotees from Visayas and Mindanao are expected to attend the procession, but organizers believe even more people may attend after the recent devastation brought about by tropical storm Sendong.

Devotees from Iligan City are also expected to arrive.

Outside the church, vendors have set up stalls selling souvenirs and images of the Black Nazarene, many of them from Quiapo, Manila.

"Marami kasing kompetensya sa Maynila kaya dito kami sa Cagayan de Oro," said vendor Vicente Ferrer, Jr. "Sana makaubos kami."

Sales were brisk on Sunday, as some devotees chose to arrive early and avoid the crowds at the procession scheduled to start at 3 pm on Monday. Because of the number of devotees, the procession is expected to last for more than five hours.

Among the early birds was Lucela Paler, a devotee from Iligan, who bought a small image of the Black Nazarene.

"Pinagdasal ko ang aking anak na nasa ospital," she said. "At sana makita ang mga patay at maalis ang problema."

Report from Sheila Joy Labrador, ABS-CBN News