CHANGES adopted by organizers of this year’s Traslacion, or the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, paid off, according to Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Ding Coronel.
As of 8:45 p.m., the image of the Black Nazarene reached its home at the Quiapo Church, just a little over 16 hours since it started at 4:15 a.m. The Traslacion usually lasts more than 20 hours. Last year, the Traslacion lasted for about 21 hours after it began at 5:08 am on January 9 and concluded at 2:21 am on January 10.
Coronel said the procession kicked off faster at the Quirino Grandstand because of the introduction of the “andas wall” for the 2020 edition of the Traslacion.
The andas wall referred to police personnel who formed a wall in front and at the sides of the carriage bearing the image of the black Christ. The set-up forced devotees to stay at the back of the andas and follow the procession.
The move was aimed at making the procession go faster and more orderly than in the past by limiting the movement of the devotees.
“Every year we are trying to improve with the help of many agencies… this time it was smoother. In the beginning, it was very smooth as you noticed,” Coronel said.
“The police really tried to put more order and to make it more solemn. So we are grateful,” he added.
Coronel said the procession quickly crossed Taft Avenue in Manila before sunrise after leaving the Quirino Grandstand at 4:15 a.m.
“In the beginning, it was really smooth. Until we have a challenge bringing it across the Ayala Bridge,” he said, adding: “Taft Avenue was also very tough. When it was still dark, we were faster. But when there was light already, the waves of people came in already so it posed a challenge.”
Coronel admitted, though, that the more orderly procession did not go without hitches as several devotees complained of feeling excluded from the event.
In particular, the devotees complained of the human and concrete barriers as well as container vans that prevented them from getting near the Black Nazarene.
“We tried to explain these in the community… We explained the possible implications,” said Coronel.
Because of this, he said they will consider all inputs and reactions during their assessment of this year’s festivities.
“We have very good stakeholders and our constituency is also very large. So we will listen to all of them. It is a learning experience for all of us. What is applicable, we could apply. What is not we have to learn from that,” he added.
Earlier, organizers of the Traslacion announced the adoption of changes in the procession, particularly with the introduction of the andas wall manned by police personnel.
Asked what time they expect the procession to finish, Coronel refused to speculate.
“Sometimes, it is fast at the start then it will certainly be slower in the (Quiapo) community as we have experienced in the past,” Coronel said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the strict and heightened security measures implemented by the police during the Black Nazarene procession merely sought to ensure public safety.
“The PNP is certainly tasked to undertake measures that will provide for the safety of those devotees. It may be strict, the goal is to protect them from any harm,” he said.
President Duterte, in his message for the observance of the Black Nazarene feast, expressed hope that the show of devotion to the black Christ by the Catholic faithful will strengthen their faith amidst trying times as well as inspire them to help lead the nation towards greater progress.
“May we also learn the virtues of compassion and selflessness as we do our part in nation-building. Together, let us work towards achieving a better and more inclusive future for all Filipinos,” Duterte said.
2 MILLION DEVOTEES
The Manila City Public Information Office (PIO) placed this year’s crowd estimate at 2.15 million as of 6 p.m. Majority of the devotees joined the procession
The Manila PIO also said there were over 200,000 devotees who waited at the Quiapo Church, and an estimated 2,000 that were at the San Sebastian Church for the traditional “dungaw”.
Dungaw is an event where the image of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel greets her son, Jesus Christ (Black Nazarene), just outside the former’s home at the San Sebastian Church.
The PNP, which dispatched some 13,000 personnel to secure the event, said no major untoward incident was reported during the procession.
“(It’s) generally peaceful and orderly. No major untoward incident reported… As of now, there are no major untoward incidents, except for some people who sustained minor injuries,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.
On reports that some of the injuries sustained by devotees were caused by the combat boots of policemen who secured the procession, Banac said: “(The) PNP will look into this reported injuries sustained by some devotees. If indeed the combat shoes of cops caused it, it was unintended. We take note of this now to be taken up during the post event assessment.”
“We understand how some devotees feel frustrated for not being able to show their devotion the way they traditionally used to do it due to tight security,” Banac said.
“But like any introduction of change, we can always expect a level of resistance. In order to manage expectations, this change in security measures was disseminated way ahead of time through the media and also during the planning and rehearsals,” he added.
TO THE RESCUE
More than 1,000 devotees of the image of the Black Nazarene required first aid assistance from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) yesterday during the annual Traslacion in Manila.
Data from the PRC showed that as of 6:15 pm, a total of 1,051 individuals had sought medical assistance from the agency.
“As of 6:15 this afternoon, January 9, with an estimated count of two million individuals, our medical team and volunteers are providing assistance to devotees of the Black Nazarene,” the PRC said.
Of the running total, the PRC said 679 individuals sought blood pressure monitoring.
First aid was also provided to 291 patients who suffered from dizziness, shortness of breath, elevated blood pressure, abrasion, laceration and sprain, among others.
The Red Cross also said 26 patients with minor medical cases such as difficulty of breathing and fainting were treated on-site.
Fourteen patients needed transportation either to the Ospital ng Maynila or the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center due to hypertension, fracture, dislocation, fainting, and loss of consciousness.
The Metropolitan Public Safety Office, on the other hand, gave medical assistance to 173 individuals who suffered minor injuries and complained of dizziness and difficulty of breathing.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) collected 12 truckloads of garbage as of 2 p.m. along the procession route.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said cleaners tailed the procession to immediately gather trash left by devotees. A dump truck from the Manila City government was also dispatched.
Trash collected composed mainly of plastic food wrappers, empty water bottles, Styrofoam and other food packaging.
The piles of trash were hauled to Pier 18 in Manila City.
The MMDA earlier deployed around 1,000 personnel to assist to the annual religious event. – With Victor Reyes, Rod Lagusad and Jocelyn Montemayor