OFFICIALS of Quiapo church and the City of Manila are expecting this year’s traslacion, or the annual procession in honor of the Black Nazarene, to last 11 to 12 hours because it will not pass through McArthur Bridge like last year.
Monsignor Clemente Ignacio of Quiapo Church on Tuesday said they considered the suggestion of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) not to make the procession pass through MacArthur Bridge because of structural defects.
The procession will instead pass through Jones Bridge, he said.
Ignacio admitted that officials will have difficulty guiding devotees who have gotten used to the old route.
Eduardo V. Santos, OIC Assistant Division Chief of the maintenance division of the DPWH said there was no problem with the MacArthur bridge but that the government wants to ensure the safety of the devotees.
Manila vice Mayor Isko Moreno said the city engineering will install steel barricades and deploy personnel to guide Nazarene devotees in coordination with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
MMDA Chairman Francisco Tolentino said his office will deploy the same people who were sent to Eastern Visayas for relief and rescue after Super Typhoon Yolanda. He said 4,000 policemen will be deployed.
Fr. Ric Valencia Jr., parochial vicar, said more people are expected to join the procession this year because of the series of calamities that hit the country in 2013.
“We have indicators. We saw how people increased last Christmas, New Year and then again last First Friday and this is because we went through several tragedies and calamities,” he said.
Church officials said the “Andas” [carriage]carrying the image of the Black Nazarene has been strengthened to avoid any accidents like last year when its tire disentangled.
The city of Manila is seeking to make the annual procession of The Black Nazarene as an “international pilgrimage of the saint,” beginning this year.
“As you can see it is not just one city celebrating. We are making it an international annual event and besides it has long been accredited by the Department of Tourism as spiritual tourism,” Liz Villaseñor, chief of the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said.
She said that this is the first time that the feast of The Black Nazarene will be declared as an international event.