MANILA -- The Filipino Catholic community is once again gearing for the largest display of faith and popular piety in Manila.
A day ahead of the procession of replicas, hundreds of images of the Black Nazarene have been lined up outside the Quiapo Church.
Ahead of the pack was a replica of the Black Nazarene clad in yellow and aboard a truck adorned by white flowers and candle holders. Dubbed as Señor Namasanta, the image was transported from Novaliches, Quezon City to Quiapo, Manila.
Charlie Biglang-Awa, the owner of the image, said it was his father who originally commissioned the image of the Nazarene but it was passed on to him when his father passed away.
"Nung nawala siya, ipinangako ko na itutuloy ko yung naiwan niyang debosyon," he said.
Biglang-awa said that bringing their Señor Namasanta to Quiapo was no easy task because they had to prepare the flowers and decorations several days before the actual procession. But all the effort pays off, he added.
He recounted some of his wishes granted by the Black Nazarene, including being able to work in another country. "Humiling ako dati na makapag-abroad. Binigay niya. Wala pang two weeks, ayun may tawag na."
Biglang-awa used to be an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Singapore but moved back home to take care of the image.
The largest replica in the procession was the Señor Lucas, a 14-foot image from Sta. Quiteria in Caloocan City. It's being taken care of by Barbie Coronado, also a devotee of the Black Nazarene.
Coronado said their entire group feels blessed even though they had to walk all the way from Caloocan to Quiapo in Manila. They believe it was the Nazarene who gave them strength.
Señor Lucas has been part of the replica procession for four years. It was commissioned by the Cuadra Family after one their sons dreamt about wanting to create a larger-than-life-image of the Nazarene. Señor Lucas, which is made of mahogany, is a work of Leandro Baldemor, a well-known sculptor from Paete, Laguna.
The procession of the replicas is traditionally done a few days ahead of the traslacion.
Joel Simon, one of the Hijos del Nazareno, will once again join the procession as part of his devotion to the Black Nazarene. He participates in all activities related to the traslacion, including the procession of the replicas.
"Kasama na pagod, hirap, masarap. Kung iisipin mo, mahirap kasi maraming tao, pero kung iisipin mo, sa kanya, walang pagod at hirap. Debosyon talaga," he said.
Asked why he continues the tradition despite the pain and the long hours, he said joining the traslacion gives him fulfillment and joy. "Darating yung time na pag nakita mo siya inilabas, maiiyak ka na lang, kikilabutan ka," he added.
Because of the annual replica procession, some roads had to be closed. The southbound lane of Quezon Boulevard from A. Mendoza to Plaza Miranda and the westbound lane of España Boulevard from P. Campa to Lerma were closed starting at 11 am.
More road closures will be implemented until the Black Nazarene returns to Quiapo Church early Thursday morning.