Quiapo Fiesta - the AMBOS MUNDOS RESTAURANT ANECDOTES Fourth of a Series

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The annual celebration of the Quiapo Fiesta is every inch a part of the existence of Ambos Mundos Restaurant.  Having been located in the area since the restaurant's establishment, Quiapo became our second home. Up to this day, I feel some comfort of familiarity every time I step on its territory in spite of the not-so-positive image usually attached to it today.

The Replicas used in processions
 Celebration of the Quiapo Fiesta

Every year on January 9, the Quiapo Fiesta is held in honor of the Feast of the Black Nazarene which is housed in St John the Baptist Church - the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or what is commonly referred to as the Quiapo Church.   This is a very special day for the devotees of the Black Nazarene.  The procession on the feast day itself attracts millions of devotees and onlookers every year.  The crowd is so immense that several deaths and injuries have resulted as each devotee "swims" in the ocean of bodies carried by waves of a crowd that sometimes loses control because of the very fervor of their belief.   Salvation is said to  be found somewhere  near the Black Nazarene image and the trail of rope that is used to cordon off the crowd just enough to allow the revered image to proceed and finish the procession.

Though such taking of risk is not at all encouraged by the Catholic Church, nothing can prevent the believers from doing what they think they should do.  These believers are seen during this day as  maroon-clothed men and women who brave the crushing crowd, walking barefoot, and hoping to touch even for a second the image that symbolizes their saviour.  Devotees credit many miracles to their patronage to the Black Nazarene.

Inside Quiapo Church
Ambos Mundos Restaurant on the Day of the Fiesta

On the day before the Quiapo Fiesta, my father will have already stationed himself at the restaurant since roads going to the area are closed.  The rest of us will either be with him already or brave the next day and commute and walk to reach the restaurant in time for the parade.  Ambos Mundos Restaurant opens every January 9 for a different reason.  On this day, the barefoot devotees who took part in the procession will be welcome to eat  for free.

The first time I witnessed,this as a child,  I even asked my father why the  the barefooted-customers ate but didn't pay.  I was alarmed because they were so many.  My father just smiled and told me that it was the fiesta so like any other fiesta in other parts of the Philippines, visitors are welcome to come and eat. I didn't exactly know how people knew for every year I will see different faces but with the same familiar shirt that brands them as devotees to the Black Nazarene.  They came with a quiet acknowledgement to my father and went as quietly with words of gratitude.  No one lingered, in understanding of the fact that there were more to follow.

Outside Quiapo Church

 My Say

The celebration of the Quiapo Fiesta is a tradition that has long been observed and is expected to continue on.  For our family, the Quiapo Fiesta was an opportunity to know and understand the life led by my father since childhood.  Ambos  Mundos Restaurant  sums up what his life was and we shared that with him all the days of our lives up to his death.

That said, I will once more set foot on Quiapo anytime soon although it will be with a feeling of regret since I do not have an Ambos Mundos Restaurant to go to.  This year however, I will come with a feeling of hope as well since I know that the time of reckoning will come soon.  The Quiapo Fiesta will always form part of my good memories of the legitimate Ambos Mundos Restaurant. 


Addendum: January 15, 2013

I finally had the chance to visit Quiapo and pay homage to the Black Nazarene last January 15.  Before going home, I passed by the former location of Ambos Mundos Restaurant in P. Paterno St and saw this Black Nazarene replica encased in glass in front of the said place.  Somehow, that sight comforts me...

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