MANILA — Aside from the usual humongous number of devotees of the Black Nazarene, hundreds of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel were visible during the midnight Mass and morning prayer held at the Quirino Grandstand in celebration of the Feast of the Black Jesus Christ on Monday.
The army personnel were situated at strategic areas where the “Traslacion” will pass until it reaches Quiapo Church in Manila.
Apart from the Army personnel numbering to 600, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) totallin
g to 4,190 are also visible at the venue and other strategic places including the route of the procession.
Earlier, organizers estimated 15 to 18 million people to attend the whole celebration of the feast, including those who attended the Monday’s procession.
Msgr. Hernando Coronel, rector of the Quiapo Church, said they believe that the number of devotees continue to increase since the Black Nazarene has touched the lives of many people.
“It increases every year probably the Black Nazarene has touched many lives but we have to see the figure after the procession,” said Msgr. Coronel in an earlier interview.
Coronel presided the midnight mass and also headed the morning prayer.
On the other hand, authorities said the estimated number of people in the “Traslacion” is at 1.5 million, as of 12 noon, January 9.
Earlier, Rev. Fr. Douglas Badong, Parochial Vicar of the Basilica, reminded the devotees or those who joined the procession to be calm.
“Kumalma po tayo. Ang kailangan natin ay ipakita ang Nazareneo sa tao, dadalhin natin at mailapit ang tao sa Nazareno hindi lamang sa ating mga sarili,” he said.
Meanwhile, this year’s “Traslacion” started a little early as compared to the procession in 2016.
At exactly 5:20 a.m., the image of the Black Nazarene was hoisted from the stage at the Quirino Grandstand, to the carriage, which signify the start of the “Traslacion”.
Last year, the procession started at 5:55 a.m. and ended 20 hours later or past 2:00 a.m. of January 10.
The “Traslacion 2016” was shorter than the 21 and a-half hours from the previous year. Ferdinand Patino/PNA-northboundasia.com