It was my first time to shoot Pista ng Nazareno, as well as the dozen or so WOW photowalkers' that day. I've been hesitant to cover this event the past years what with the notoriety of Manila's pickpockets as well as having a personal aversion to crowds. So shooting the Nazarene Feast was an "out of the comfort zone" thing for me, in a way. As I found out that day, it was a completely different "zone" altogether. Nothing can possibly prepare you for the total sensory assault of a 6 million or so crush of people crowded in the narrow streets surrounding Quiapo. It was, in turns, like being inside a giant moshpit, a washing machine, a blender or a river's current. It just completely engulfs you and carries you away.
Beyond the adrenaline rush, covering the Nazareno procession was also an eye-opener of sorts for me. Not being a "religious type", it was easy to scoff at the event as just a spectacle of what others consider religious fanaticism. But I realize now that fanaticism is an unfair description of why people, mostly from the poor, come in droves, barefoot to attend this event. Gazing at the tired but determined faces of the devotees, I can't help believing that the more accurate description would be indomitable faith, an unswerving belief that by showing devotion to a Higher Being, they might yet be redeemed from the hardships of life they were born into.