MANILA, Jan. 4, 2013—Around six to eight million devotees are expected to join the procession of the image of Quiapo Church’s Black Nazarene in a nationwide celebration of its feast next week.
The image which is considered miraculous by Filipino Catholics is brought in procession that usually lasts up to 15 hours, borne in a carriage pulled traditionally by male devotees. But last year’s traslacion stretched up to 22 hours–the first in history–because the wheels of the carriage broke down and stalled the procession for several hours.
In a press briefing held January 3 at the Pope Benedict XVI Building of Quiapo Church, Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said coordination between the local Church and local government agencies of Manila has been mapped out to assure an orderly and safe celebration on January 9.
Ignacio said he is not sure if there would be an increase in the number of devotees who will join the procession this year.
Leading up to the January 9 celebration, a procession of Black Nazarene replicas from Quiapo Church will take place on January 7 at 2 p.m. while the ‘pahalik’, mass and an overnight vigil will be held on January 8 from 1 p.m. onwards at the Quirino Grandstand.
At 6 a.m. on January 9 a solemn High Mass will be celebrated at the Quirino Grandstand to be presided by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. The ‘Traslacion’ of the miraculous icon from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church will start at 7:30 a.m. until it reaches the Church.
On January 9, hourly masses will also be celebrated at the Quiapo Church from 3 a.m. until 12:00 noon and again from 3 p.m. until 9 in the evening.
Fr. Ricardo Valencia Jr., head of Church committee on operations said they have made precautions to prevent the breaking down of the tires of the “Andas” or carriage used to bear the image of the Black Nazarene.
Last year, the wheels of the Andas broke down just several meters away from the Quirino Grandstand which delayed the annual procession.
“The wheels of the Andas have been replaced with three solid tires being used in forklifts. There are also six bearings on the sides so that in case something happens, it would still roll,” Valencia said.
Meanwhile, responding to a question of restricting access to mobile phones in case of a terrorist attack, NCRPO Chief Director Leonardo Espina said they have not heard of any imminent threat to destabilize the upcoming feast.
“In terms of intelligence gathering and information, we haven’t received any imminent threat. So there is no such plan,” Espina said.
Last year, telecommunication companies were ordered to jam and shut off mobile phone signals in areas affected by the procession to prevent alleged terrorists from using mobile phones as a triggering device for home-made bombs.
Organizers also released guidelines for media agencies during the “traslacion”.
Only one cameraman and one talent from each network will be given access to the platforms or media boxes which is strategically placed beside the PCP station by the Manila City Hall.
There will be no media coverage inside the Church except for a limited number of cameramen (one per network) that will be allowed at the choir loft of the Church.
Only those who have media accreditation IDs from the organizers can have access on media platforms and areas for coverage.
The procession route of replicas of the Black Nazarene will be from Plaza Miranda, it will turn left to Quezon Blvd., right to Recto Avenue, left to Loyola St., right to Bilibid Viejo through Puyat St., left to Guzman St. (Mendoza St.), right to Hidalgo St., left to Barbosa St., right to Globo de Oro St., right to Palanca St., and right to Villalobos St., through Plaza Miranda.
While the ‘Traslacion 2013’ procession of the Black Nazarene will be from Quirino Grandstand left to Katigbak Drive through Padre Burgos St., left to Taft Avenue through McArthur Bridge, right to Palanca St. through under Quezon Bridge, left to Quezon Blvd., 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 Aguila St., right to Carcer St., right to Hidalgo St. through Plaza del Carmen, left to Bilibid Viejo through Puyat St., left to Guzman St., right to Hidalgo St., left to Barbosa St., right to Globo de Oro St. through under Quezon Bridge, right to Palanca St., right to Villalobos St. through Plaza Miranda and ingress to Quiapo Church.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) through its National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) named the areas affected during procession, while advising the public to expect heavy traffic.
Affected areas will be the stretch of Roxas Blvd./Bonifacio Drive from Anda Circle to T.M. Kalaw north and southbound lane, southbound of Quezon Blvd. from Recto to Palanca (subway-Isetan Recto), stretch of Lerma to P. Campa to Quezon Blvd., Taft Ave./Finance (Westbound lane), Lagusnilad/P. Burgos (Westbound lane), P. Burgos/Taft Avenue (Freedom Triangle-Northbound lane), Villegas/N.A Lopez, and 25th Street/Bonifacio Drive (southbound).
Some roads affected by the procession will be closed to traffic. On January 8 from 8 a.m., Katigbak Drive and South Drive will be closed to traffic; at 4 a.m. on January 9, southbound lane of Quezon Blvd. (Quiapo), from Andalucia/Fugoso to Plaza Miranda and Espana/P. Campa/Lerma shall be closed to traffic for public utility vehicles only and at 5 a.m. total closure for all types of vehicles shall be implemented.
PNP mentioned that at least 3,000 police personnel will be deployed for the feast.
Church officials and the Police advised the public not to bring valuables and their children to areas where activities are to be held to avoid bad elements who will take the feast as an opportunity for them to take advantage of others. (Jandel Posion)