January 24, 2018, 9:21 am
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3.5M join ‘orderly’ Traslacion

AN ESTIMATED 3.5 million devotees of the Black Nazarene, many of them barefooted, yesterday joined the annual procession of the religious image which Quiapo church officials dubbed as the most orderly so far.  

Manila Police District Chief Supt. Joel Coronel over 561,000 were at the Quirino Grandstand at the start of the procession at 5 a.m.

The rest of the close to 3 million devotees gathered in and around the Quiapo church.

The “andas” or carriage of the image of the Black Nazarene was barely a kilometer away from its starting point when Quiapo church officials deemed the activity as a “success.”

According to Quiapo Church Parochial Vicar Fr. Douglas Badong, they were satisfied by how the annual procession started after the image was transferred from the altar to the “andas” without any hitches and interruptions.

“The people did not crowd and run towards the image. They instead waited for the carriage to be in position,” said Badong.

“That is actually our objective for this year, to have it (image) in the parade ground, then we are okay. That was just it for the meantime,” he added.

Unlike in the past, devotees patiently waited for the andas to leave the stage before rushing towards it.

Before, overeager devotees attempted to get near the image while it was being transferred from the altar.

Badong attributed the successful start of the Traslacion 2018 to the united actions of the “Hijos Del Nazareno.”

“Before, each group has their own plan. But now, they realized that they can be united,” he said.

He also said the instructions given to devotees to kneel and sing at the time the image was transferred to the andas also helped.

He added that the presence of the military and the police helped maintain order.

Despite the good start, Badong said it is too early to predict if the procession will be shorter than last year’s 22 hours. 

“Next year, we want to improve further so we can more orderly,” he said.

As of 8 pm, the procession was still at Castillejos street.

It was still set to turn left to Farnecio St., turn right to Arlegui St., turn left to Nepomuceno St. (counter-flow), turn left to Aguila St., turn right to Carcer St., turn right to Hidalgo through Plaza del Carmen, turn left to Bilibid Viejo St. through Puyat, turn left to Guzman St., turn right to Hidalgo St., turn left to Bautista St. (Barbosa), turn right to Globo de Oro through under Quezon Bridge, turn right to Palanca St., then turn right to Villalobos St. through Plaza Miranda going to Quiapo Church.

The Manila Police District expressed hope that the procession will wrap up by midnight.

“Hopefully, by midnight we can finish the Traslacion without any critical incident happening,” Coronel said.

Last year, the procession ended minutes after 3 a.m., which made it a 22-hour activity.

Police estimated that the festivities drew 17 million devotees nationwide, some seeking healing for illnesses and forgiveness for sins and others offering thanks for blessings.

Rogelio Lim said all his wishes came true since he became a Black Nazarene devotee in 1977.

“My child is now a medicine graduate,” he said. “I have been spared diseases. I have been blessed with a house. Everything we wished for. A good job. Everything. This is why I am here, to thank Him.”

Alvin Carlos said he felt stronger after touching the Black Nazarene.

“Rain or shine, I gained the strength to continue because of my strong faith in Him,” he said.

More than 4,000 police and soldiers were deployed to ensure the Manila procession would be peaceful, said Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila police chief.

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, in his homily for the midnight mass at the Quirino Grandstand, urged the faithful to stop being greedy for power, and instead be humble enough to serve others, especially those in need.

“A true human admits that he is a creation and will, therefore, not compete with God. Being a true human, in the ways of Jesus, means we should not play God. Instead, we must accept our lowliness,” said Tagle.

“Life does not depend on power. We were born without power. And in time of death, we will not have power. Let us live without greed for power and you will be a true human being,” he added.

“Many believe that if he has a lot of money, he will already look human. No. That is called ‘mukhang pera’. In life, if you look for things that are not human and you live by it, that is what you will look like,” he also said.

Instead, the Cardinal urged the faithful to live like Christ, who loves those who are in need.

The Manila prelate also urged devotees not to be afraid of trials as Jesus is with them in their own “traslacion” in life.

He cited as an example those who recently suffered from the five-month crisis in Marawi City.

Present during the midnight mass were Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, his son and former senator Jinggoy Estrada, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim, among others.

Also in attendance was Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, a first in the Nazarene’s feast.

Manila Cathedral Rector Fr. Regie Malicdem said Caccia himself decided on attending.

“One of our recent discussions last January 1 was regarding the mass to be held here. He asked why at the (Quirino) Grandstand. I answered: because millions of people go. So he said, if there are many people there then I should go,” recalled Malicdem.

The MMDA said it has offered medical assistance to 275 people, 
261 of who suffered from dizziness. 

MMDA spokeswoman Celine Pialago said the others suffered hyperglycemia, stomach ache, headache, vomiting, nape lain, asthma, body pain, and arthritis. 

Pialago said 1,300 traffic enforcers have been deployed for crowd control, managing vehicular flow, and cleaning up the procession routes after the Black Nazarene passed through. – With Evan Orias and Reuters
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