Last night, my childhood friend Ian Acena and I attended the Nazarene festivities in Manila (it was my 10th if I may add; 23rd for him). We were unable to proceed to Quiapò because Mayor Isko Moreno organized a queue that led to the Basílica Menor del Nazareno Negro which houses the centuries-old miraculous image of the Black Nazarene. The queue in Calle Carriedo was very long, and Quezon Bridge was closed. So we had to make do with nearby Santa Cruz Church (Nuestra Señora del Pilar) which was celebrating hourly Masses to accommodate devotees who couldn’t go to Quiapò.
During Mass, I was approached, nay, disturbed many times by various policemen questioning my attendance. Their apprehension was understandable because I was garbed in full-gear PPE from head to foot. But one of them annoyed me when he said “Bawal po casí iyán” (That is not allowed).
But we have a pandemic for crying out loud!
I didn’t want to argue anymore that the government, particularly the Department of Health, is highly recommending PPEs. I was attending Mass. That’s not a good time to argue about it. I just told them that I am protecting my already weakened lungs from COVID-19 (which is true anyway). One of them asked me for IDs which I readily presented. I even showed them my Facebook account for good measure. 🤣 But it didn’t sit well with Ian who angrily argued on my behalf. Mabuti na lang at natapos co pa rin cahit papaano yung mg̃a hinaíng có sa Poóng Nazareno.
To their credit, they were very respectful. One of them even noticed that I was slouching and clutching my belly; it’s because I was suffering from severe stomach pains yesterday. The police offered to bring me to a medical van. I declined because I said that I had to finish the Mass. Besides, I was already planning to go to the hospital later on.
Afterwards, it was time to eat. While approaching the foot of historic Jones Bridge, we encountered a group of policemen who heckled my attire.
“¡Bacá mahauaan mo camí!” (You might infect us!), one of them shouted. There was a spurt of hot anger that almost made me show them my gloved middle finger, but I think the Nazarene intervened. Who knows what would have happened had I failed to control my temper? Thoughts of Jonel Nuezca flashed through my mind. I thought of reporting them to my cousin who is a police captain. He was also in that area last night. But I’m not the type who abuses my connections.
So there you have it. Two types of policemen in last night’s “traslación” that has no traslación (probably a historic first).
As an aside, while eating at a fast food in SM Manila (my stomach pain was not getting any better, but I had to eat; I had already shed my PPE at this point), Ian, who I had not seen since my 2013 wedding, lauded me for being a changed man. It’s because he knew how a hothead I was, having witnessed many fisticuffs back in high school. There was a tone of disappointment in him because I did not retaliate. I told him that we have to mellow down as we age. People change. I’m more into books now than guitar and rock records. I also told him to learn to forgive: if someone slaps you in the cheek, offer the other cheek. He blurted out a laughter. I was half-serious, half-joking. I cannot carry my “Tondo Boy” image with me forever (my childhood friends in Parañaque knew me that way). That’s not really me.
As soon as we stepped out of the mall, I noticed that my seven-hour stomach pains have disappeared!
¡Viva Señor Jesús Nazareno! 😇