Minor Basilica of Black Nazarene
Referred to as the old downtown of Manila, we briskly walked and endured the organized chaos complemented by the unending sounds of barkers, merchants, by-standers, religious devotees and even tourists of the Quiapo District.

The union of commerce and religion is evident.  This is the home of the Black Nazarene amidst a market place with interesting finds of all sorts.  Despite the notion that a high crime rate is being produced in the Quiapo district, truly one can't judge a place without having to experience it first hand.  Ironic as it is, but being one of the centers of Catholic faith in Metro Manila, where millions attend the feast of the Black Nazarene, a visit to the district has been dreaded by a few.  

This is definitely not a walk in the park.

Believed to be miraculous by most Filipino Catholics, the Black Nazarene is a life-sized, dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross.  This is said to be one of the two statues that arrived from Mexico; the older and more popular one belonging to the Recollects was destroyed in Second World War during the Liberation of Manila in 1945.  Originally said to be of fair complexion, tradition holds that it was charred by a fire aboard the Manila galleon while transporting it from Mexico, thus, its present color.

The Black Nazarene's shrine is the Quiapo church and is removed for public procession from the shrine every 9th of January.  The event is attended by a million of Catholic devotees who crowd the streets of processional route through the streets of Manila.  While devotees risk their lives in attending the said procession, I am no one to judge them, it is their confession of faith. But as for me, I know I won't be able to experience such and just have to be contented of attending regular masses at the church.

The church is not only a witness to the strong confession of faith of Catholic devotees but also to the rich cultural and political history of the country. 

Surrounding the church are fortune tellers, sellers of lucky charms and amulets who claims to have gained their ability through their devotion to the Black Nazarene (patron of the Quiapo church).  And this vicinity was once the center of Philippine political discourse - the Plaza Miranda.

To be alert at all times is what everyone should be armed with.  Interesting personalities and characters arose as each corner of every alley and street is discovered.  Robbery and theft are common scenario as they say in this district, but definitely there is more to such negative connotation.  Wear an open mind and a strong personality and you'll be fine.  Simply allow your slippers to do the wandering and discovery.

Shops of varied merchandise, stalls of fruits and vegetables and staple foods at a bargain price is what you get in this district.  Truly, an adventurous soul can survive wandering in the vicinity and scrutinizing each and every detail of it.

Despite the chaos and disorderly facade of the Quiapo district, the fusion of religion and commerce makes a visit to the district a memorable one.  We just hope it's a good memory you create.

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