(many thanks to: mr. Jay Yamomo for the vid above which he uploaded on youtube.com. — sssip*)
“Maka-kaway man lang ako sa Kanya, okey na (Just to be able to wave at Him, will be okay).”
That’s what I said on my FB status on that Sunday afternoon in the feast day of the Black Nazarene. Thinking that I could no longer see the Black Nazarene that day coz I came from an interment of a veteran lady movie writer and I missed the Black Nazarene’s long parade of coming-out from his home in Quiapo church up to the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park. Oh, it’s been five years that I haven’t seen the Black Nazarene on his feast day. And that Sunday afternoon, could have been the sixth.
Maybe ‘HE’ heard me.
“Robert, the Black Nazarene will be arriving back from a long journey at the entrance of his home in Quiapo church, maybe around 10 to 11 pm tonight”, suddenly, a chat message appeared on the screen of my Facebook wall.
“I am going there tonight. Come with me. I just read your status now at FB”, the chat message continued.
The chat message came from Jay-en, a very special FB friend. He was my crush.
“I will be arriving there at around 9 p.m. Let’s meet each other at Jollibee Arlegui St. branch. Then, let’s wait for the Black Nazarene.”
I might have forgotten, it’s not just when the Black Nazarene leaves his home-church for his yearly feast parade that people flock him. Some devotees had told me in the past that it was much better to wait for the Black Nazarene when he arrived from a long journey of walking. That’s the time you could really feel “His presence.”
And it was the perfect time.
I knew, it’s not just the excitement of meeting Jay-en (my crush) for the first time that mattered the most. But seeing an “old friend” that I haven’t seen for five long years, thrilled me to the max. That day, I knew He will be happy to see me again. He might be tired from a long hard day’s walk (coz it was His feast), but deep inside me, I knew He will come near to me and acknowledge me- coz we’ve been friends for a long, long time. Me and the Black Nazarene.
I kept on thinking that afternoon, maybe, just maybe, Jay-en was just an instrument. The Black Nazarene needed an accomplice so He could see me back again. Through Jay-en.
And the evening came.
Because the road going to Quiapo was blocked by the authorities due to many pilgrims who went there, the walk from Morayta St. to Quiapo was such an easy task to bear. No sweat. I could even walk for miles when I used to get high on drugs in the past. I remembered, I walked from Marcos Hiway, Antipolo up to Quiapo more than 7 years ago when there was no longer any hope in my life. As I arrived and entered the Quiapo church after a long walk, all my weariness and tiredness disappeared when I saw “Him”- the Black Nazarene. I heard a soft whisper that night, which was more than seven years ago, inside the Quiapo church, that spoke like this: “I am taking your load. You are my friend.”
I just couldn’t discern that evening if I was simply high on drugs (shabu) and I was simply hallucinating, or the voice I heard was really true.
It was supernatural. A voice sounding like it was coming from the deep recesses of an empty metal drum, or an empty well, or a locked bathroom noise- in which the sound seemed to be echoing, transcending not just within my very ears, but my very soul.
And the voice added: “Ang kulit-kulit mo kasi! (You are a very redandant guy!).Pero hindi kita iiwan, huwag ka mag-alala! (But nevertheless, I won’t leave you, don’t worry!)”
And a cold wind blew on my face. Seemed to be, not from this earth.
That was the time I looked-around inside the interiors of Quiapo church, there was no one near me. There was no wind coming-in from the busy and humid street outside.
And I cried…. When I went-out the church, I felt so light. The effects of the “shabu” disappeared. I didn’t know why.
That was more than seven years ago. After that night, I was no more a “drug addict”. After that night, I was surprised I could just use drugs on “accidental” basis only. The addiction was gone.
I became more of an avid “follower” of the Black Nazarene after that. Then, I missed seeing and visiting him for five years. I ignored his feasts. I always had an excuse, an alibi.
Not until that Sunday afternoon- January 9, 2011. He badly needed to see me. He badly wanted me to be there. He badly choreographed the events so that I could be there upon His arrival at the Quiapo church.
Morning of January 9, 2011, I first went to the Sanctuarium Funeral Homes to be with the relatives of Miss Mila Parawan (RIP), a veteran movie writer. And I went with them until she was laid to rest at the North Cemetery. After a brief stay with them at their place in Sampaloc (after the internment), I left. But after one jeepney ride away, I decided to open my Facebook when I saw an internet shop in Welcome Rotonda crossing in Sampaloc area. That’s the time I posted my FB status: “Makawayan ko lang Siya, ay okey na (If I could just wave at ‘HIM’ -the Black Nazarene, it would be okay).”
And Jay-en, my special FB friend, was able to read it. And his message appeared at my FB screen wall, he chatted me at once on FB.
And now, here was Jay-en beside me. A handsome young man in his mid-twenties. So gentle, so warm, so reassuring. He never left me that evening until the Black Nazarene arrived.
“Are you happy?”, Jay-en asked me.
“Yes, I am”, I answered him.”
“He’ll be a lot happier when He sees you.”
And that was it. My tears flowed. I was crying. The Black Nazarene haven’t arrived yet, but I could almost feel “His Presence”. It was as if I was feeling ‘Him’, getting nearer and nearer to me. The emotions were so tremendous. So powerful. So real. And I kept on crying, and trying my best to hold back my tears.
I held Jay-en’s hand, never letting it go.
I held Jay-en’s arm, trying to feel him more.
I touched Jay-en’s shoulder, not wanting anybody else to grab him away from me that very evening.
And there were so many people outside the entrance of Quiapo church. All waiting for the arrival of the Black Nazarene. As I gazed upon their faces, I saw the real images of my Catholic Faith:
I saw it in their eyes, when they look up high above the facade of Quiapo church’s video screen wall.
I saw it in their faces, as they anticipated the arrival of a “tired King”.
I saw it in their emotions of hope, love and joy.
The spirit had, indeed, never left us. “HE” was always there.
I knew Jay-en was there because he was also having some problems with his health and his lover of eight long years. But he was discreet enough not to reveal anything about his problems to me. And I simply kept silent. In the first place, we’re simply friends.
And me? I was there because I was “invited”. I was invited by the Senor Nazareno himself. And he ‘used’ Jay-en so I would have no hesitancies, whatsoever, to be there with HIM upon His arrival.
And he arrived. Firecrackers appeared on the skies welcoming Him. People panicked. The excitement overflowed. The spirit went so HIGH.
And at last, I saw HIM again.
He stopped in full view of me.
I could imagine Him looking at me and smiling. He paused to where I stood for almost five minutes. He did let me feel, or somehow tried to say: “Yes, Robert, I invited you.” …
Then, he moved on.
He looked tired and needed a home to rest inside the safe havens of the Quiapo church.
I may not be always invited in press conferences of movie productions and other showbiz-related works, it’s okay.
I may always be an “outsider” in showbiz, just like what others say so, it’s okay.
And I may have been accused forever in different kinds of bad ‘labels’ and notorious ‘tags’, it’s still okay.
But the mere fact that I was there that night near outside the entrance of Quiapo church… it was enough for me.
Because for me, it was a little miracle. ‘HE’ heard me. And HE found a way to grant my wish:
Of seeing HIM back again.
The power of love is real. With me and the Black Nazarene.