I have been trying and trying to photograph Manila's iconic Quiapo Church but has failed every time due to the tight security that won't allow photographers from snapping images inside its hall. The last time I tried, a guard stopped me as I was about to press the shutter button. I asked him why it was not allowed, he said because there is an ongoing mass; fair enough. I asked if I could shoot after the mass then, no he said. Dang, so when can I photograph Quiapo Church? It appears I have to secure a permit for such. Well no, thank you very much.
Fast forward to the day after UST's Paskuhan. I stayed over at L's house and was woken up at the wee hours of the morning with a grumbling stomach. A quick instant noodles later and my thoughts was back on focus. The Simbang Gabi season had just began and since L's house was just a few blocks away from Quiapo, my mind was once again locked onto shooting Quiapo Church.
Armed this time with an inconspicuously small Sony NEX5n camera, I hurriedly packed up and rode a jeepney to Quaipo. Dawn seemed far off as I boarded down the glistening tiled square of Plaza Miranda which is infamously known for a major political bombing that occurred in during the Marcos regime. The sky was still dark and the air was chilly from last night's light shower.
The Quiapo Church or more properly, the St. John the Baptist Parish is home to the Black Nazarene which gathers millions of devotees every January. The church has not been named the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene for nothing. The current structure is actually the fourth reincarnation of the church after going through two fires and an earthquake since its inception in 1586.Hymns were already emanating from the open doorways of the Quiapo Church as I made my way across the plaza. I entered its side doors and walked into its columnless hall; I said my prayers and joined the Misa de Gallo attendees. I then opened my camera bag, made myself as invisible as possible and took a total of seven shots inside the church.
I’m not one to push my luck but so far so good. I went outside and still no photography guards were on sight. I photographed the Mexican Baroque facade of Quiapo Church to my heart's content.
The sky was already having hints of blues and flares of oranges as I finished. The mass has also ended and streams of people were already moving out into the still wet pavement of Plaza Miranda.
Mission accomplished! One last thing to do before heading back, buy some Puto Bumbongs and Bibingkas! Simbang Gabi would never be complete without bringing home some!