This year’s traslación procession could be the shortest and most orderly in the history of the annual “transfer” or “passage” of the Black Nazarene from its original location in Rizal Park to the Quiapo Church for public veneration in the dominantly Catholic Philippines.
The procession started earlier than usual at 5:43 a.m., although the route remained the same from the Quirino Grandstand, passing by the Manila City Hall before noon on its way northward to the Quiapo Church.
Fr. Ding Coronel, parish priest of the Quiapo Church, and Msgr. Jose Clemente, former parish priest, credited the “success” of the event to thorough preparations and the cooperation of several government agencies.
“We employed the same preparations we did during the visit of Pope Francis in January last year and the most recent international event — the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last November,” Clemente said.
“We are blessed by the Black Nazarene. We owe it to him. This is all for his glory. We are thankful to the devotees, mostly young people who cooperated and guarded their lines. They followed our directives to be careful and keep on praying while escorting the Black Nazarene,” Coronel said.
They also commended the haste with which the 50 assigned personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) cleared the Quirino Grandstand, where the traditional “pahalik (kissing of the foot of the Nazarene)” was held as early as Thursday evening as a prelude to the march to Quiapo. The MMDA personnel also followed the route of the procession to cleaned after the devotees.
By Saturday morning, six truckloads of garbage had been collected from the Quirino Grandstand premises and the portion of Roxas Boulevard fronting the Luneta Park.
Enterprising street food vendors also celebrated the brisk business offered by the event. At the end of the day’s work, cold bottled water vendor Tessie Cunanan, however, laments the drop in her sales near the Quirino Grandstand this year, compared with last year’s.
“People stayed longer here last year. This year, the ‘Andas’ moved early,” she said, referring to the procession. She said she remembered last year’s march started at 8:30 a.m.
Veterans of the yearly procession commended the early conduct of the traditional Holy Mass midnight of Friday, which they said would ensure an earlier-than-usual return of the Black Nazarene to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. (The procession was underway as of press time, and was expected to arrive at its destination in the early hours of Sunday, January 10).