CHANGES adopted by Quiapo Church officials and its government partners will be tested today as millions of devotees join the annual procession of the Black Nazarene or “Traslacion” in Manila.
Quiapo Church Rector Msgr. Ding Coronel said innovations and adjustments in the procession route, formation around the carriage carrying the image of the Nazarene, and the level of spirituality of the devotees will determine if the changes can be adopted in the succeeding years.
“I am praying. Let us see. We have this new approach. Whether it succeeds or not, we will leave it to the Nazareno. But we will try,” said Coronel.
Foremost among the changes is the rerouting of the procession route, with organizers opting to pass through the Ayala Bridge instead of the Jones Bridge, McArthur Bridge, and Quezon Bridge, making the trip shorter 300 meters than previous years. The change was prompted by renovations being done on the three brigdges.
The procession will start at the Quirino Grandstand, turn left to Katigbak Drive through Padre Burgos St., turn right to Padre Burgos through Finance Road, left to Finance Road through Ayala Boulevard, left to Palanca St, right to Quezon Boulevard, right to Arlegui St., right to Fraternal St., right to Vergara St., left to Duque de Alba St., left to Castillejos St., left to Farnecio St., right to Arlegui St., left to Nepomuceno St., left to Concepcion Aguila St., right to Carcer St., right to Hidalgo through Plaza del Carmen, left to Bilibid Viejo through Gil Puyat., left to JP de Guzman St., right to Hidalgo St., left to Quezon Boulevard, right to Palanca St. under the Quezon Bridge, right to Villalobos through Plaza Miranda, and end at the Quiapo Church.
“It was not our intention to change the route. We only desire to maintain the safety and security of our devotees,” Quiapo Church Parochial Vicar Fr. Douglas Badong said in a press conference last Monday.
Another modification is the introduction of the “andas wall,” wherein over 2,000 uniformed personnel will form a human barricade at the front and sides of the carriage bearing the image of the black Christ.
According to National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, they introduced the “andas wall” to speed up the procession.
“In the past, the procession got delayed because it cannot move forward. Now we have the police to prevent the crowd (from obstructing the front of the procession). They can still climb the andas from behind, but not from the front and sides. This is so the andas can move forward albeit slowly,” said Sinas.
Quiapo Church officials said they are encouraging devotees to make the event more spiritual amid criticisms the event is a showcase of idolatry than devotion.
“We are making efforts to increase the level of spirituality of the Traslacion. This is why we are also asking the public to bring candles when they attend the mass at the Quirino Grandstand or novena prayer books at the prayer stations,” said Badong.
Like in previous years, a Holy Mass will be celebrated at midnight on Thursday by Coronel and Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. The overnight vigil will resume after the mass and will be capped by a morning prayer at 5 a.m.
The procession is expected to start at 5:30 a.m.
Coronel has said they expect the number of devotees joining the procession and other related activities to surpass the estimated 4 million that participated last year.
Devotees were also reminded to respect the environment by not throwing garbage anywhere, dress appropriately but without the jewelries or any other expensive accessories, and seek advice from veteran participants of the Traslacion on how to avoid being pinned down by the crowd.
Organizers have advised pregnant women, persons with disability or illnesses, young children, and senior citizens against joining the procession.
The Traslacion commemorates the arrival of the image of the Black Nazarene at the Quiapo Church or the St. John the Baptist Parish in Manila back in 1767. The devotion to the Black Nazarene has gained international recognition, highlighted by the blessing of then Pope John Paul II of the Quiapo Church as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in 1987.
COAST GUARD READY
The Philippine Coast Guard has assured the public and devotees that they are 100 percent prepared for today’s Traslacion.
PCG spokesperson Capt. Arman Balilo said the agency is ready to provide coordinated maritime safety and security assistance and ensure the safety and security of millions of devotees who will join the procession.
Balilo said the PCG has conducted coastal operations on the vicinity waters off Quirino Grandstand and Pasig River, particularly at Ayala Bridge, McArthur Bridge, Quezon Bridge, and Jones Bridge from Jan. 7 to 10.
“The PCG will deploy approximately 271 personnel and 36 floating assets along major operational areas,” he said.
He added that multi-role response vessels, fast patrol boats, high-speed boats, rigid hull inflatable boats, and rubber boats will also be deployed to strategic locations. K9 units, quick response teams, medical groups, and force multipliers from the PCG Auxiliary will also be deployed. – With Noel Talacay