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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, January 9, 2016
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

It's Black Nazarene Day

Ninfa Leonardia Today Manila will celebrate the traditional rites for the feast of the Black Nazarene, the representation of Jesus carrying his Cross, but with his skin darkened, unlike the usual depictions of Him in the Church. From the media, everyone can discern what a huge activity this is, which keeps growing, instead of declining as the years pass. It seems, however, that both the city and the Church are much better prepared this time for the crowds that will flock into the city from all over the country.

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As early as the start of the week, we already heard about the preparations of the police for crowd control, and even by the hospitals and the Red Cross for incidents involving the participants, many of whom had been reported to have been hurt, had fainted, or suffered from some ailment during the day long procession. For today, health centers have been put up, hundreds of policemen deployed, and medical teams and ambulances are on hand to take care of those who cannot stand the heat, the crowds, and the sacrifice of being on their feet for such long periods.

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I have attended the celebration only once in my life, and this was about two decades ago when we were invited by an officemate who lives in an ancestral house in Manila, right along the route of the procession. Actually, “attended” was not the term, because we were discouraged by our hosts from joining the crowds, saying we would not be up to it. So we just watched from the wide windows of their house, and had a vantage point from where to see everything.

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It was truly an awesome sight to see men, women, old and young, silently walking along with the carriage of the image of the Black Nazarene, where able-bodied men were pulling on the ropes alongside it, and several more were on top of the carriage, to whom those in the crowd threw handkerchiefs, towels, scarves, and even articles of clothing like T-shirts, to be rubbed on the image, and thrown back to them. Strangely, the owners always got back their items, nobody complained of losing his, or of somebody else getting it. From what I have seen in video footages of later processions, this continues to happen year after year, and with more people joining. The estimate for today is said to be 15 million.

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If only people would have that kind of manifestation of faith and caring all year round, and everywhere in this world. We then would not be having apprehensions of possible conflicts breaking out between countries, or even of these escalating into international disputes. Lately, reports have been coming out that even the French government is still not at ease after the terror attacks it had experienced, starting with the Charlie Hebdo affair, where a media publication was attacked, or the one in the Bataclan Theater where concert-goers were mowed down. When I hear of news like that, I am very glad that my friend, Edouard Garcia, is back home now, but the feisty guy says he is going back there soon, since Paris is, for him, a second home.

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Yes, Edouard wants to be where the action is, and in fact the last attack in Paris was said to be along the same street where he lives. But, anyway, he is here in Bacolod now, and apparently enjoying his life, as one of the country's top socialites. And trust it to Edouard to get into the limelight, wherever he is. Shortly after getting back, guess where he landed? Right on Hola Magazine, with a whole page of his birthday party held at the famous party venue, which is the Garcia residence at Lacson Street.

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Naturally, it was a bubbly French-themed champagne party with the bubblies coming from where else, but Gay Paree? Our Edouard never does things by halves, you know. Even the party fare was fully reported in the Hola coverage, all mouth-watering stuff presented with the Garcia touch. His darling Mama, the late hostess with the mostest in Bacolod, Nena, would have laughed gleefully to see how her, shall we say, favorite, offspring did it.

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By the time this comes out Edouard may be packing again for his trip back to Paris I guess that is a place where he truly belongs, the bon vivant that he is. Just take care Edouard, dear, thanks for the dinner you hosted for Ivy, Perla and me. It was so much fun! And of course for the yummy, yummy French chocolates that you had promised and never forgot. Anyway, whenever you decide to leave, know that we will be praying for your safe and happy trip!*

 

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