MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – The Traslacion or the annual procession of the Black Nazarene will not push through in the capital city Manila for the second year in a row amid an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
“Ako po’y nagpapasalamat sa ating Msgr. [Hernando] Coronel ng Quiapo sa pagtugon nila sa pakiusap ng pamahalaaang lungsod na wala muna tayong Traslacion ngayon taon na ito at wala rin tayong physical mass," Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso said Wednesday.
"Online Mass lang tayo,” he added.
"Mabigat po sa kalooban ko, na hindi tayo magmisa nang pisikal. Eh alam natin nakagawian na natin yan eh, talagang ayon sa ating nakagawian at saka marubdob na pananampalataya sa Poong Nazareno, lalo na yung mga nananalig, ‘no, at talagang followers ng ating Poong Nazareno."
"Ipagpapasensya po ninyo, ito'y para rin naman sa kaligtasan ninyo at ng inyong mga anak o pamilya.," Domagoso said.
The Manila mayor made a particular appeal to ‘hijos’ or organizations of Nazarene devotees who traditionally go to the Quiapo Church on the 9th of January and bring along their replicas of the Black Nazarene.
“Sa hirap at pagsubok na pinagdadaanan natin ngayong mga panahon na ito, eh alam ko umaangkla na lang tayo sa ating pananampalataya sa Diyos."
"Pero naniniwala ako na ang Diyos, na ang Poong Nazareno ay nauunawaan naman tayo, bilang tao at ang ating sitwasyon,” said Domagoso.
The 2022 presidential aspirant called on the faithful to continue praying to the Black Nazarene from their own homes.
"Ipanalangin na lamang natin na ang ating sitwasyon, ang ating mga mahal sa buhay, ang ating siyudad, ang ating bayan, ang ating mundo, at ang ating mga kahilingan ninyong personal, sa kalusugan, sa kabuhayan, sa ating Panginoong Diyos, sa kani-kaniya nating tahanan."
"Maging taimtim ang ating pagdarasal. Patuloy tayong manalig. Pagtibayin natin ang ating paniniwala sa Diyos at kausapin natin ang Diyos nang personal sa kaniya-kaniya nating tahanan."
Domagoso noted that he has already signed an executive order prohibiting the sale of liquor and other alcoholic beverages, and directing the strict implementation of Ordinance 5555 during the feast of the Black Nazarene.
The liquor ban will begin at 6 p.m. of Jan. 8, and will end at 6 a.m. of Jan. 10.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday appealed to the Catholic Church to forgo this year's Black Nazarene procession in the capital city and other related activities as COVID-19 cases climbed.
"Ako man, I believe in God, walang problema ’yan. But I have to do things which I hate to do. Kailangan gawin ko because trabaho ko. And this is not my decision. This is culled from the so many views and opinions from several doctors," Duterte said.
The National Task Force Against COVID-19, in a “resolution recommending activities” for the Feast of the Black Nazarene released Tuesday, said the Traslacion “is suspended.”
“The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church will be closed on 07-09 January 2022. No Holy Mass shall be physically conducted on these dates,” according to the resolution.
“All Holy Masses will be aired online nationwide,” it added.
The Department of Health and the World Health Organization also urged the Filipino faithful to observe Traslacion at home as the omicron variant has presumably spread at the community level.
"Let's come together in doing our part in preventing the spread of the virus as more transmission means more mutations. Let’s not be agents of transmission," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.
"We appeal to devotees — please stay at home to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Doing so is an act of kindness. We need to protect each other, especially our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. They can most easily catch the virus and possibly suffer its worst consequences: severe disease, hospitalization and even death," added Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines.
Duque urged the public to maximize telemedicine services, "do the right test at the right time and isolate proactively at the earliest signs of symptoms."
“To our barangay leaders, we strongly urge you to consistently implement the measures to prevent unsafe gatherings in your community,” Abeyasinghe added.
The Philippines, with 100 million people, is the bastion of Roman Catholicism in Asia, with 8 in 10 people subscribing to the faith. The religion was brought by Spanish colonizers in the 1500s.
First brought to Manila by Augustinian priests from Mexico in 1607, the Nazarene statue is believed to have acquired its color after it was partially burnt when the galleon carrying it caught fire.
During the Traslacion, which starts before sunrise and often lasts for 24 hours, devotees wave white handkerchiefs and shout "viva!" (long live), with some scrambling to touch the image.
In 2021, masses were held at the churches of Quiapo, Santa Cruz, and San Sebastian in lieu of the traditional Traslacion.
Authorities said some 400,000 devotees visited the Quiapo Church during the celebration of the Black Nazarene feast in 2021 amid the pandemic.
- with reports from Jorge Carino, Benise Balaoing and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News
FROM THE ARCHIVES