MANILA -- To business-minded Filipinos, the feast of the Black Nazarene is not only a time to express their devotion to the religious image but also an opportunity to make a living.
Nora Gonzales, 65, sells T-shirts, towels and handkerchiefs printed with the image of the Black Nazarene.
"Minana ko na po ang business na ito sa mga magulang ko na nagtitinda ng memorabilias ng Nazareno sa Quiapo Church pero ang pagbebenta ng T-shirts mga seven pa lang (I inherited this business from my parents who are selling Nazarene memorabilias at Quiapo Church but I've been selling T-shirts for only seven years now)," she said.
Unlike other Nazarene T-shirt vendors, Gonzales told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that her T-shirts only fetch for PHP100 to PHP150.
"Para mabilisan, maliit na tubo lang parang tulong mo na rin sa mga deboto. Tapos, ang mga panyo po ay bente lang, pero kapag paubos na sa gabi, pinamimigay na namin ang paninda (So I can sell them quickly, I sell them for a small profit. This is also my way of helping the devotees. Then, the handkerchiefs are sold at PHP20 each, but when the night nears, we just give them away)," she said.
Gonzales explained that she's also a devotee of the Black Nazarene since she was a child, noting that she owes her second life to Him so she will do everything to honor Him.
"Bumababa ang dugo kaya sinalinan ako ng dugo. Himala ng Nazareno na buhay pa ako. Nung bata-bata pa ako, sumasama ako sa Traslacion pero ngayon hindi na kaya. Ang mga anak ko, lahat ay pumapasan kahit iyong iba sa kanila ay mga babae (I had blood transfusion because I had low blood level. It’s the Nazarene’s miracle that I am still alive. When I was young, I joined the Traslacion but now I can't do it anymore so I leave it to my children, even my daughters, to carry [our Black Nazarene replica])," she added.
To buy his maintenance medications, Nicasio Cachol sells Nazarene handkerchiefs, booklets, towels, and bracelets in front of Quiapo Church. He has been a devotee and vendor since 1995.
"Nagkaroon po ako ng stroke noong 2006. Hindi naman ako pinagaling ng Nazareno noon nang nagdasal ako sa kanya, kaya ngayon ang panalangin ko sa kanya ay makita ko si President Rodrigo Duterte para makahingi ako ng tulong sa kanya (I had a stroke in 2006. The Nazarene did not heal me when I prayed to him so my prayer now is to see President Rodrigo Duterte so I can ask help from him)," Cachol said.
He added that he earns a bit more during the Traslacion because "people, especially devotees, seem kinder and more generous, not asking for change when paying with bigger bills."
Meanwhile, Luz Bautista told PNA that she used to sell “lugaw” (porridge). She later decided to sell Black Nazarene and Sto. Nino replicas when she became older.
"Para po hindi pagod, ganito na lang ang tinda ko. Galing sila ng Pampanga at Tanay, Rizal, mabenta kapag Traslacion, ngayong buwan na ito hanggang Mayo. Pagkatapos noon, matumal na, pero minsan may bulaklak akong tinitinda. Kapag December, meron akong Christmas decors at stuffed toys. Seasonal ako magtinda (I'm selling these items now so I won't get tired. They're from Pampanga and Tanay, Rizal. They're marketable during Traslacion, this month until May. After that, they're difficult to sell but I sell flowers. I sell Christmas decors and stuffed toys in December. I sell seasonal items)," she said.
Bautista said she has been a devotee since she was 12 years old. Being a devotee gave her blessings she never thought of, she added.
"Nagkaroon ako ng sariling bahay at napag-aral ko ang mga anak ko, sa awa ng Diyos, kahit ganito lang ang hanapbuhay namin (I was able to own a house and I was able to send my children to school, by God's grace, despite my meager income)," she said. (PNA)