Set in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines, Miracles of Quiapo is not the kind of story that we have been used to hearing about miracles.
In a sqaulid place that society does not find worthy to look at, an abandoned child appeared from its half-lit alleys. This child would be raised by surrogate parents, and with grit and determination, he would grind his way to survival. The story of one of his parents recalls the rape, the plunder, and the killing inflicted by a dictator on his people in the countryside. The child did not only survive, he made a good account of himself through formal education and the school of hard knocks, as it were; later on, he earned his spurs while establishing a career in community organizing. Such was his springboard to national prominence that one day, to everyone's surprise, he was elected mayor of the country's premier city.
Miracles of Quiapo is a story of human determination to overcome adversity. It is about the triumph of good over evil. It celebrates little good deeds. It is a portrait that needed strokes from many hands to complete the artwork. It is about people helping people.
To quote the main character of this story:
I remember the first time I experienced the Traslación. Maybe I was 6 or 7 years old. I saw this boy, maybe even younger than myself, who was crying because he lost her mother. Then somebody told him just to stay where he was because his mother would look for him in the last place where the two of them stayed together. That good little deed of assuring him was a miracle; he stopped crying and, sure enough, his mother found her way back to him.
The message of ‘just staying where you are’ has not left me as I grew older. Staying where you are, to me, means keeping faith. As we struggle, God will come back to us in the person of somebody we might not even know. In instances that I cannot count, I also experienced the Black Nazarene’s miracles in my life. The miracles came in the form of food when I was dying of hunger, and of mothers—I had at least 5 of them—who found their way back to me.
Staying where you are means keeping alive the hope that life will turn for the better for as long as we put in the effort to make a living with determination and dedication. It means doing little good deeds for our neighbor. It means helping putting the smile back on those who need our help. To be of service to others is the last place— “the communion of saints,” as we hear the preachers explain in their homilies and as we pray the Apostles Creed—where we all stayed together. That is where God, I suppose, will come back to us. Cardinal Calaveria has reminded us of how the Holy Eucharist works for us. It is an assurance that God will keep coming back to us, fulfilling his promise that he will not leave us alone.
The Traslación is an occasion for the recollection of how our lives have experienced the outpouring of love from our brothers and sisters. The Black Nazarene performs his miracles through them. He heals the sick through our doctors and other medical professionals. He wipes the tears away from our eyes through our mothers. He brings laughter into our lives through our friends. And he keeps us humble through our enemies.
An e-book version of Miracles of Quiapo