All roads lead to Quiapo Church during the Feast of the Black Nazarene. The famed religious icon was carved by an unknown Mexican from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported to the Philippines in 1606. It depicts Jesus en route to his crucifixion. Pope Innocent X granted recognition to the lay Confraternity of Santo Cristo Jesús Nazareno in 1650 for the promotion of the devotion to Jesus through the icon. It was housed in several churches near Manila in the early decades, arriving in Quiapo Church in 1787 where it has been enshrined ever since. The icon is renowned in the Philippines and is considered by many Filipino Catholics to be miraculous; its mere touch reputed to cure disease. It attracts homage by numerous devotees and major processions every year.
In the mid-1980s and as a result of Roberto Chabet’s effective method in cultivating his student’s own language, Jeho Bitancor was already exploring his personal symbology that is characterized by quasi-surreal imagery — early explorations in art as a purveyor of social realist themes. In his breakthrough work, Bitancor imbued his statements, ironies and epigrams in the hope that knowledge and awareness may serve as an impetus for societal change. From 1992- 2002, Bitancor’s paintings were based directly on observed and/or experienced situations. These works were at that time done in monochromes and were rendered in heavy chiaroscuro and impasto-like application with a lot of intensity in visual contrasts. By 2004, he continued exhibiting paintings similar to what he has already explored in the 1980s. These works were characterized by the use of color and symbolism but were all inspired by his reflections on society, the workings of ideology and lament on individual struggles. He explores juxtaposing images and superimposing graphic elements on top of traditional figurations.