MANILA – For the first time, the ‘traslacion’ or grand procession of the Black Nazarene would not push through next year due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Mahalagang anunsyo po, mga Batang Maynila. Napagkasunduan na po ng Manila LGU at Quiapo Church na walang isasagawang prusisyon ng imahe ng Itim na Nazareno para sa Traslacion sa darating na Enero. Iwasan po muna natin ang mga parada at prusisyon ngayong may Covid-19 pandemic (Important announcement for all Manilenyos. The Manila LGU and the Quiapo Church have decided that the grand procession of the Black Nazarene for the Traslacion in January will no longer push through. Let us avoid during this time these processions and parades because there is still the Covid-19 pandemic),” Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso announced via social media on Friday.
The annual feast celebrated every January 9 draws millions of devotees of the Black Nazarene from different parts of the country and some even from abroad make it a point to join the yearly grand procession as part of their “panata” or vow after receiving “miracles” or answer to their petitions as a sign of gratitude.
Meanwhile, many of those who join the procession ask for healing and intervention from the miraculous Black Nazarene.
The yearly procession starts from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to the Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. Last January, the procession took 16 hours.
Domagoso believes that the safety of the public must prevail over tradition especially in this time of the pandemic.
“Maaari pong mapahamak ang ating mga deboto, mailagay sila sa alanganin. There are things that we can’t control pero pwede maiwasan. Kung libo-libo ang pupunta, isa lang sa kanila ang maimpeksyon, tapos magkakadikit-dikit pa sila, pinagpapawisan, nagkakalat ng laway, delikado po (our devotees may be put at risk. There are things that we can’t control but can be avoided. If thousands will attend and only one gets infected and then everyone gets too close to one another, perspiring, it is very dangerous),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Manila Public Information Office said while Quiapo church officials were saddened by the cancelation, they understand that both the church and the public must comply with the minimum health safety protocol of the government.
The church would celebrate more Masses for the devotees of the Black Nazarene but it also reminded the public to observe safe physical distancing, and wear their face masks and face shields in attending Masses.
The body temperature of those who will enter the church will also be monitored.
Meanwhile, Quiapo Church officials are planning to localize the celebration of the annual feast.
Quiapo Church rector, Monsignor Hernando “Ding” Coronel, said they are looking to hold simultaneous fiesta masses in the National Capital Region and in other areas of the country.
“One of the suggestions is that, instead of people going to us, we will go to their places. We will be holding simultaneous fiesta Masses in Metro Manila, in the North, in the South. Simultaneous holding of Masses. There will also be a replica of the Nazarene,” he said in an interview.
While admitting that this is a “dark moment” for the church, Coronel said they will “fill this moment by drawing strength from one another”.
On the other hand, Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Quiapo Church, said they understand the decision of the Manila City government not to push through with the annual procession.
“We understand the decision of the local government and by the mayor (Isko Moreno Domagoso). The situation might change if ever we will be by December, that’s a possibility. We understand at least we’ve tried. We are also waiting if they will allow on the proposal to hold alternative activities. We formally proposed alternative activities. We’re for the approval. But definitely, there will be no Traslacion, it means that from Luneta, we will no longer have that,” the Catholic priest added.
Badong said one of their proposals is to have a motorcade.
He, however, said they would not appeal the decision anymore.
“We will not (appeal) but if the situation changes, we may be able to have the Nazareno (come) out. Definitely, we will not have Luneta to Quiapo. It needs long preparations and we have no time,” he added.
At the same time, the Quiapo church official appealed for the devotees’ understanding.
“We are hoping that the devotees would understand the situation. Although the celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene will push through, it will be much different from what they are used to. We are hoping the devotees would understand,” he said. Marita Moaje with reports from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA – northboundasia.com