Manila wants to make Black Nazarene feast an int’l pilgrimage
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The local government of Manila wants to turn the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene into an international pilgrimage in a bid to attract more tourists. 

Millions of devotees, who walk barefoot as a sign of penance or thanksgiving for answered prayers, are expected to join the procession of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9.                

Liz Villaseñor, head of the Manila City Hall Tourism Office, said yesterday they would refer to the celebration as the International Pilgrimage of the Black Nazarene, which is  believed to be miraculous. 

“As you can see, the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene is not limited in one city, so we would like to make it an international event,” she added.

Quiapo Church rector Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio had been informed of the plan to turn the yearly event into an international pilgrimage.              

He likened the plan to the hajj, which is the yearly Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. 

“Foreigners and returning Filipinos (balikbayans) would be invited to attend the Feast of the Black Nazarene,” he said. 

Longer but safer route

The carriage bearing the statue of the Black Nazarene will take a longer but safer route this time.

The traditional procession from Quirino Grandstand back to the Minor Basilica in Quiapo will skip MacArthur Bridge this year due to concerns over the bridge’s stability.

Organizers of the procession yesterday agreed to use instead the Jones Bridge as an alternative route to ensure the safety of devotees. 

Estrada said the safety of the devotees is the priority of the city government.        

Vice Mayor Isko Moreno earlier said the MacArthur Bridge can only accommodate 13,000 people in a fast-pace movement.                

The rector of the Quiapo Church said the traslacion (passage) may take 11 to 12 hours compared to last year‘s nine hours. The traslacion starts at 7 a.m.

“We have a slight adjustment but this is a serious concern. For the safety of the mamamasan (bearers of the carriage) and the devotees, we decided that the procession pass Jones Bridge,” Ignacio said.                

The theme for this year’s traslacion is “Laykong Debote ng Panginoong Hesus Nazareno: Tapat na Katiwalang Nagdarasal, Sumusunod at Sumasaksi.”

The procession will start with a mass to be celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle at the Quirino Grandstand.         

The image of the Black Christ will be brought back to the Minor Basilica in Quiapo by passing Katigbak Drive, Padre Burgos, then Taft Avenue straight to Jones Bridge.          

From Jones Bridge, the procession will pass through Escolta, turn left to Quezon Boulevard, Arlegui, Fraternal streets then right to Vergara street all the way to Dugue de Alba street.         

The procession will also pass through Castillejos, Farnecio, Arlegui, Nepomuceno, Aguila, Carcer, R. Hidalgo toward Plaza del Carmen, Bilibid Viejo, Puyat, Guzman, Hidalgo, Barbosa, Globo de Oro, Palanca, Lanace, Villalobos then back to Plaza Miranda.

Fr. Ric Valencia Jr., parochial vicar of the Quiapo Church, said that during the past eight years they have observed a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of devotees attending the procession.

Last year, police said about 9.6 million devotees joined the procession. 

No security threat

Police have not received any threat in connection with the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Thursday.

Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore, Philippine National Police public information office director, said the police would continue to monitor the situation as around 12 million devotees are expected to join the procession.

Authorities said 382 traffic enforcers and 3,211 policemen from the Manila Police District and National Capital Regional Police Office as well as military officers would be deployed in the route of the procession.

NCRPO chief Director Carmelo Valmoria said they have not recommended the jamming of cell phone signals during the event.

Valmoria said security measures are in place to protect the devotees.

In 2012, the government blocked cell site signals in Quiapo and neighboring areas amid reports of a plot to disrupt the procession.

The 2012 procession of the Black Nazarene was the longest in recent history, lasting at least 22 hours. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Non Alquitran, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mike Frialde, Rainier Allan Ronda



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