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Traslacion to draw 2 million devotees

BLACK NAZARENE’S DAY. This file photo shows the actual image of the Black Nazarene usually housed in Quiapo Church, which will be carried in a transparent tempered glass case today in the Traslacion procession that starts from the Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park in Manila.
Charles Dantes, Vito Barcelo, Vince Lopez & Macon Ramos-Araneta

Church hopes for peaceful procession

The first Traslacion procession in three years to mark the Feast of the Black Nazarene today is expected to draw at least 2 million devotees – less than half the previous record of attendees — who will join in the six-kilometer-long procession from the Quirino Grandstand

to Quiapo Church.


At its height before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual rite that draws Catholics from across the country and even abroad drew 4.5 million devotees in 2018 according to police estimates, but that number slowly tapered off before the coronavirus forced churches and public places everywhere to shut their doors.


Catholic Church officials said Monday they are hoping for a peaceful and tragedy-free celebration after they and the Manila city government cancelled the grand procession in 2021.


The 2019 edition of the event drew about 4 million devotees according to the National Capital Region Police Office, then about 2.5 million

returned for the last pre-pandemic procession in 2020.


This year, Quiapo Church officials said the image of the Black Nazarene will leave Quirino Grandstand before 10 a.m. after the mass.


If the plan goes on smoothly, the image of the Black Nazarene will be inside the Quiapo Church by 4 p.m.


Organizers said all preparations were in place for the grand procession.


“With the cooperation of all sectors, the government, volunteer groups and people from the Church, I can say that in terms of ensuring the security and the solemnity of our Traslacion, we are ready,” Quiapo

Church rector Fr. Jun Sescon said Monday.


The grand procession will begin early Tuesday morning, from Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.


It will feature a new Andas (carriage), with the image of the Black Nazarene enclosed in a tempered glass cage, still being pulled using a thick rope by devotees.


The public will no longer be allowed to climb the Andas to ensure the protection of the image and the safety of attendees.


Devotees are encouraged to wear face masks while attending church

events at Quiapo Church and during the Traslacion.


Aside from the Manila City government, the organizers of the event

also coordinated with other government agencies and private

organizations to ensure an orderly and peaceful Traslacion.


Among them are the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health, the Philippine Coast Guard, and

the Philippine Red Cross.


PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said they remain on alert to counter any security threats that may disrupt the religious observance.


Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula will lead the Fiesta Mass at midnight on Tuesday at the Quirino Grandstand, which is expected to draw thousands of devotees.


Since Saturday, devotees have been queuing at the Quirino Grandstand for the “Pahalik” in which people are allowed to kiss and touch the image of the black Jesus.


Meanwhile, environmentalists and community leaders around the Quiapo area are calling for a clean and garbage-free celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene.


Local leaders and the environmental network Ecowaste Coalition urged devotees and visitors to couple their devotion to the Black Nazarene with respect for the environment.


Past celebrations have seen truckloads of garbage collected from Rizal Park to Quiapo that included cigarette butts, candy and snack wrappers, plastic bags, cups, bottles and straws, polystyrene food

containers, and bamboo skewers that often cause injuries to barefoot devotees.


Also on Monday, Sherwin Gatchalian urged the PNP to ensure the safety and security of devotees participating in the Black Nazarene procession.

“Police authorities should heighten their vigilance, coordinate closely with relevant authorities, and deploy necessary resources to maintain order all throughout the procession,” Gatchalian said.

“It’s important that our people are able to exercise their religious beliefs peacefully and without concerns about their security,” he added.


In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the military is focused on maintaining the safety and security of pilgrims who will flock to Manila for the yearly celebration.


“I sincerely extend greetings on the feast of the Black Nazarene,” Brawner said. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with other government agencies, are focused on the safety and security of the millions of devotees who will attend the Traslacion.”

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