Jan. 9 - Millions of Catholics join procession of famous black statute of Christ, through the streets of Manilla. Andrew Schmertz reports.
A jubilant procession, with thousands walking barefoot, filled the streets of Manilla, as Catholics honored a replica of a 17th century statute of Jesus Christ. The life-sized, wooden black statute is a copy of the Nazarene and is believed to have healing powers. Filipinos appeared unfazed by a terrorist warning announced by the country's president, who feared an attack by Islamic militants. Rodolfo Anunuevo was among the millions. SOUNDBITE: DEVOTEE, RODOLFO ANUNUEVO SAYING (Filipino) "The black Nazarene will not let anything untoward take place. He will make all the miracles needed so that this feast will not be disrupted." The procession took pace during the annual Nazarene feast and snaked around the narrow streets of downtown Manilla from dawn to night. Police estimated at least three million gathered at the start of the parade and as many as nine million may eventually participate. But following raids of suspected terrorist hideouts, the government beefed up security. Fire Brigade officer Ryan Fanuncio said they were prepared if something happened. SOUNDBTIE: FIRE BRIGADE OFFICER, RYAN FANUNCIO, SAYING (Filipino) "It's good that the emergency teams are stationed outside the procession. At least we can easily react. I hope the threat that President Aquino warned of will not take place. But if it does, and our rescuers are situated amongst the crowd, that will be a big risk on our part." The original statute was brought to Manilla in 1606, by a trading ship, and parts of it are being preserved. The one on parade is marched twice a year-- during the feast and on Holy Friday, which marks the crucifixion. More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholics and devotees showed that a terrorist threat wouldn't stand in the way of one of the country's largest religious festivals. Andrew Schmertz, Reuters