By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
Around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, while the “Andas”, the carriage carrying the image of the Black Nazarene was slowly traversing the streets of Manila, a slight drizzle begin to pour that thousands of devotees waiting along the stretch of Quezon Boulevard outside Quiapo Church scramble to take shelter in nearby buildings.
With them were the 69-year-old Angelito Bilanganghel and his wife Loreta, 73, who first joined the religious procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila after they got married in 1979, and as they try to have a child.
Four decades later, the couple continues with their “panata” or vow to the widely venerated miraculous image.
“It all started in 1979 when I and my wife were trying to have a child after we got married in 1979. After four years, He (Black Nazarene) finally gave us a baby girl,” Angelito said in Filipino.
The couple who came all the way from Las Pinas named their daughter Angel. Angel is now 35 years old. She also gave her parents three grandchildren.
Angelito shared that he started joining the religious tradition at a very young age and way back then, the procession was different.
“I started joining the ”Traslacion” when I was in my teenage years and I was able to touch it when I was about 14 or 15 years old,” he said.
“In the past, the procession was different. The image was carried on the shoulders of a group of men and there were no women allowed to join the procession. Unlike now that devotees—men, women, and even children—fight over a spot in the rope used in pulling the carriage and for the chance to touch or wipe their towels on the image,” he said.
Angelito said that whenever he participates in the procession, he asks the Black Nazarene for a long and happy life.
“I prayed for the Nazarene to at least allow me to reach the age of 50 or 60, but now I am 69 so I am very thankful,” he said. “As long as my body allows me, I will continue my vow to join the procession even in the sidelines,” he added.
The two devotees who were waiting for the image to pass along Arlegui Street, said they will follow the carriage until it reaches the Basilica Menor de San Sebastian in Quiapo, Manila for the “Dungaw” where the image of the 400 year old Our Lady of Mount Carmel de San Sebastian will glances upon the image of the Black Nazarene before heading back home in Las Pinas.