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Sunday, January 12, 2014

In front of the andas, rope and tension of people - Feast of the Black Nazarene 2014–part 5 END

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This is my first time to be standing in front of the Black Nazarene and its million of devotees last Thursday in Manila. During my past coverage, I usually stand away from it in order to be safe from the stampede and tension of the people, my first taste of covering the procession was in 2010. I just want to have some life changing experience and I gave a go and went on the other way and instead of going to an MRT station and head back home after the mass. Last year was an accidental coverage for me, I was so close to the Black Nazarene and I didn’t expected that I will at the crowd area and with 15 feet away from the statue, I was late that time and I first felt the stampede and how the 50+ people fell from the rail of the bridge and landed in my toes, it was like a building falling down and all I can see was dust, smoke and big BLAG!!!. like a dominos.



For this year, I took up the courage to face another challenge, to go up close and experience what it is like to be inside the pit of millions of people, 1 Black Nazarene and its 2 ropes. The mission is very simple… “salubungin mo ang Nazareno!” , meet the Black Nazarene at the middle of the procession.

It was a successful coverage, and also the experience is very memorable to me now, I stood inches away from the image of the Black Nazarene and also its rope landed in my nose, it was very inviting to grab the rope, but I refuse to hold it because I’m injured and I don’t want to get hurt that day.

I felt that I’m going to die that day because I got pinned down by the crowd and it was painful… I thought that my left leg will be broken, because the weight of the stampede falling in to your chest and me pinned down, I accidentally fell and sat down in the side of the isle land. All words that I can say is… “naiipit ako…naiipit ako” then someone from the back pulled me out of the crowd when they saw me getting hurt.

But before that, I saw a guy from my right side got pinned down first, he cried in pain and all I can say to him is to use his elbows and arms to cover his chest so that he can breathe, then he got escaped and went back to the crowd to grab the rope and after that moment, I tasted the same fate…When I felt that I got pinned down,I just saw a flash of images in my head… an image of my son and wife and my family..I thought that I’m gonna die that day, but it’s a stupid act that I was still holding my camera and video record everything, I should stop filming and tried to get out of the crowd, but it happened so fast and I can’t even think… I just let them know that I’m starting to get hurt from behind.

But I’m so lucky that two guys from the back pulled me up and they let me stand on top of the isle land of the street. Then I became part of a human chain just to protect ourselves and prevent from falling down, as the crowd started to loose its way, we shouted that they are at the “bangketa” side of the street, then we push them back.

Then the human chain broke down when the Black Nazarene is right in front of us, the people who are part of the human chain got scrambled, some of them fell down the isle land, while others jumped up to the Black Nazarene. I didn’t know what I would do because everything is so fast, lots of tension going on and more people are arriving from the back that pushes us to fall down.

All my concern that moment is… my injury and wound at my left knee.
I’m so lucky that both of my legs are okay, but I went home with a painful spine and a stinging sensation to my knee injury.

That’s my story and life changing experience.

But the best part here is that… people at the Black Nazarene procession help each other, I felt that I’m not alone that day,because everyone is like a brother to me. They help people who falls down, they even gave way to those people who want to grab the rope, they also give their slot to pull the rope, they will grab you if you want to and they will direct you to the right path of the rope. If you got hurt, they will also help you, but mind you that if you are hurt badly, you have to move away and recover because 2-3 or 5 people who will help you to get up, might get scrambled after the mob.

It was my first time to be in the center of ground zero of the procession, swimming in the sea of people is like being part of the sea and not a lonely fish. Everyone is a brother and sister. Everyone is helping their fellow Filipino. I just hope that this “bayanihan” thing will still remain here, because we know that it is a the way of the Filipino, if you fall then someone will help you to stand up.

Next year..I will go back here again, to pray, to give thanks and felt again that life changing experience.
Thanks to the people who helped me stand up again and also thanks to the people who gave some tips on how to survive.. and I’m sorry to some people who got pissed that I raised my two elbows infront of them… alam ko kasi nanadya kayo to put your weight on me, all I do is to shield myself using my elbows in order for me to avoid getting hurt.

as the manong guy said “ kasama sa laro yan, ganyan talaga yan”

Okay, that’s my initial story… I’m sharing below some photos and also a short story on each pic.


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After my quick lunch at Quick Snack in Carvajal st. , I went directly to the path of the Black Nazarene, I was planning to wait it here in Jones Bridge, but my instinct told me that it is not safe to stay here,so I have to move on.

Spotted this kid collecting some empty bottled water. Its work day for him, collecting those recyclable plastics, they sell it to the junkshop to earn money.

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Spotted this three youngsters doing a river sightseeing.

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our Coast Guard team are here

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arrival of the 1st wave of the procession, various replicas of the Black Nazarene joins the procession.


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if ever I saw big crowds of the procession, that means I’m already near to the Black Nazarene

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Kids guarding their replica of the Black Nazarene

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Guy with “team Jacob” shirt holds a small statue replica of the Black Nazarene on his shoulder

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Teens and youngsters love to joke around to us photographers, they always call our attention and requests for a photo op. So here..I gave the a snapshot,but then the two ladies got shy

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The ladies are shy…but the guys here are game for a photo op.

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Then they told me to take a photo of their banner.. Hello sa mga taga Tondo, Manila!


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More crowds are exiting the path of the procession…this means that I’m super near to the main procession.

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Here’s my selfie during that day.


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Here’s the underpass station, media men and photographers are always on this roof.
It’s a good spot, but not a good spot to take pics because the Black Nazarene will pass to the left side.

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Everyone went wild when this replica of the Black Nazarene – same size and look, arrives in the middle of the procession. Then someone at our back said… that it is not the real statue. After the people realizes that it is not the main statue, all of them started to calm down.

I also noticed those riot police in stand by.

I asked the people why we have riot police at the middle of the crowd, then they said that it was like a rally.

then I learned from tv news that the crowd started to behave weird and started to push away the two trailers of the truck that blocks the old path of the procession.
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The tension starts to heat up… riot police started to block the procession because they are going to the wrong direction, then the mob started to force and push away the riot police, but the police stand guard and fought back.

I saw some riot police hitting a devotee with a wooden stick, and then the crowd went wild and noisy.

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Then we saw Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno arrived in the middle of tension, he raised his two hand and gave a sign of “TIME OUT!” then the devotees gave a cheer and calms down, they too raised time out sign and everyone went quiet after the vice mayor started to pacify the crowd. Vice Mayor Moreno informed everyone that they are going on the wrong way.

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The procession continues and everyone started to push us back and forth.

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elbow to elbow…

everyone went to the middle of the procession just to find where to rope of the Black Nazarene

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Then we saw the end of the rope…. everyone started to grab the rope, pull it and force the people who holds it to giveway.

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The guy in yellow shirt who started to lie down is the one who holds the end of the rope.

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Some of them let go the rope…


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Then the rope was transferred to another group of people.

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The guy in white shirt who did a peace sign….was part of our crowd, then he saw that there’s a slot, I told him to grab while there’s chance, they he flash a peace sign and told him good job!!! hahahaha.

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tug of war started here… as the rope was raised

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if you have the rope…expect that people will mock you and push you away…
Others are praying while holding the rope, others will fight another person just to get the rope away from you.

I also saw a guy got punched in the head, he got mad big time..he can’t do anything about it…because if he let go of the rope, then he will start over again.

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Bald guy with a whistle..is an acting marshal of the rope pulling.

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Here’s the Black Nazarene…arriving infront of me…..



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its like a slam dance pit in the middle of the procession.


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Vice Mayor Isko Moreno was on the “andas” of the Black Nazarene, he instructed the head marshal that they should stride to the left side of the road and take Jones bridge.

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Just saw a fight of two men in the middle of the crowd.


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here’s a moment that Vice Mayor Isko started to slip down
the marshals helped him not slip down the andas.

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I was wondering what if the Black Nazarene is encased in a glass type structure for protection.
just like the Pope John Paul II ‘s Pope mobile.

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I just saw this guy praying while he holds the rope. He stares to the sky like he saw God listening to his prayers.


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Vice Mayor Isko jumps out of the andas, and we saw him do that crowd surfing act.

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Here He comes..


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If you see this photo and its level…I’m standing already on top of the isle land.


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everyone are shouting…. “pull….pull..” or “hila!!! hila!!!”

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this lady bravely climbed the andas of the Black Nazarene.


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The arrival of the image is so fast…



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others jump in, others fell down, others just threw away their towel.


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There are some people who help others to climb the andas. there’s a certain technique on how you can get up…. use a person as your ladder.

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pull you in…. pull you out..


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Finally….saw it up close…the Black Nazarene.

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stage diving….


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hand in hand….


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my last view of the procession.

Thank you!!!

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My view after the stampede..


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After the procession, I rested for awhile and recover from a painful back injury and also I felt a stinging sensation on my right knee.

Then I decided that its time to go home. 12:30pm…and I’m done.

Saw a forklift on the street, I think they will pull those trailers out of the blockade.

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Spotted Sky Patrol in action.


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A long way walk…

The blogger

Azrael Coladilla is the blogger and founder of Azrael's Merryland Blog. This blog started as a personal blog in 2003, and then converted the blog into a lifeblog about his interest and reporting about pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, technology, food, travel, toys, outdoor adventure, internet and social media. Awarded as the 2009 Most Influential Blogger for Luzon, Philippines, awarded by the Philippine Blog Awards. He is the founder of several online communities - Manila Bloggers Network, PBNetwork PH, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collects Transformers toys.
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