[Rewind #AwaNgDiyos PH] A Nazareno story: Poverty is where the good news is



For Easter, The Filipino Connection releases articles from its special edition on the apostolic visit of Pope Francis last January 15-19, 2015.


CITY OF IMUS, CAVITE—Standing under a weathered entrance, Zenaida Parcero looked like any other churchgoer that Friday morning. With greyed hair, slim-rimmed glasses and a frayed red blouse, there’s nothing about Parcero that absolutely stands out.

Except her story —of a life that was saved twice by a Philippine religious icon, the Black Nazarene.

Zeny believes that she has been a devotee of the Black Nazarene longer than she could remember. Her parents, Angelina and Bonifacio, frequented Quiapo in the early 1920s, bringing their brood of eight. Her utter devotion jumpstarted when her uncle’s replica of the Mexican-carved image of Jesus Christ was said to ward off flames from licking their modest home in Taylo St., Pasay City.

May sunog noon. Hinaharap niya lang sa apoy tapos parang hinihipan ng hangin [There was a fire then. The Black Nazarene just passed by it, then the wind blew off the fire],” the 68-year-old reminisced.

It took two personal miracles to entirely build up Parcero faith through the 400-year-old image.

She wed a carpenter, Severino, from Cavite in 1963. Still, Parcero religiously went Manila every Friday. “Minsan, nangungutang ako para makapagsimba lang [Sometimes I had to borrow money just to go to Church],” she said, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose.

Zeny’s a regular housewife who sometimes does laundry for their neighbors. Their household’s primary source of income comes from the earnings of Severino.

And where’s none left, there’s one place —the Imus Cathedral— to go to.

Kapag wala naman talaga, nagsisimba nalang ako sa katedral [ng Imus] dito o kaya nagdadasal nalang sa bahay [If I do have none, I hear Mass at the cathedral, or I pray at home].”

Their financial burden wasn’t the biggest elephant in the room: It was their futile attempt to bring about a child into the world.

Zeny got miscarriaged twice, giving pain to both her and Severino.

They were on the verge of giving up.

Before hope was lost, Zeny decided to heed a friend’s advice and began her novena to the Black Nazarene.

Zeny’s determination to rear a child was evident. When January of 1970 came, she braved harsh rains and the people who flooded Quiapo. In the midst of her vow, Zeny had to pawn Severino’s ring to be able to have extra money to go to Manila.

Upon her arrival in the jampacked church, she was robbed of the PhP300 that she thought she had safely tucked in her pocket. Fortunately, some loose change was left in her bag, enough to get her home.

On that same month, her monthly period had stopped and the anticipation of childbirth overcame the fear of miscarriage that she had.

Hindi ko iniisip na buntis na nag-novena ako. Sabi ko nun, manganganak din naman ako after seven months. Kaya pagdating ng ika-pitong buwan naghanda na ako [I didn’t even think I was pregnant when I prayed the novena. I might give birth again after seven months. So on that seventh month, I prepared],” Zeny said

For the first time in seven years, the premature streak had stopped and Zeny gave birth to a healthy baby girl: Myra, named after a famous celebrity at the time.

She laughed at her own disbelief that September evening, insisting that her daughter was premature.

She remembered that day vividly, bits and pieces when she was still conscious.

Two years after, they had to jump over another boulder, one which almost claimed her life.

On May 17, 1972, being seven months pregnant, Zeny again had another miscarriage.

Waving her arms as if she was back in the same scene four decades ago, she bled like a faucet. Inside a jeepney, Zeny was covered by a blanket, with the jeepney’s floor flooded with blood. Blood pressure: 40/60.

Much of Zeny’s blood was lost that early summer morning.  Severino had a difficult time asking for -AB type blood in the bloodbank. Almost unconscious, all she could make out of the ruckus in the emergency room were noise and shadows.

Her final thought before she dozed off was about the family she thought she was going to leave behind. The dextrose was even filled with blood.

She prayed to the Black Nazarene.

Sabi ko nalang, Diyos ko, kayo na po bahala sa pamilya ko. Kawawa naman si Myra, dalawang taon pa lang. Diyos ko. Poong Nazareno…. yoon [Lord, please take care of my family. I pity my two-year-old Myra. Dear Lord, the Black Nazarene… That’s what I prayed].”

Zeny points to her left ankle, the last pulse point that the doctors were able to locate mere seconds before her heart stopped beating.

In the end, Zeny’s safe. Myra turned out to be their only offspring.

So the Black Nazarene, Zeny claims, is her lifesaver two times over.

Forty-five years and three grandchildren later, Zeny still makes it to a point to catch a glimpse of the Poon every Friday. Despite her age, Parcero remains one of the millions who join the procession from Quiapo up to Quirino Avenue in Manila annually to celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene.

With all that she had been through, not one second did she let the barriers of her faith go down.

Kapag matibay ang pananalig mo, kahit gaano kabigat ang pagsubok, hindi ka bibitaw kasi alam mo na hindi ka Niya pababayaan [When the faith’s strong, no matter how hard the trials that you face, the Lord will hold on to that rope–your rope].”



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