Millions of barefoot Catholic devotees are expected to join this year's procession of the Black Nazarene through downtown Manila and nearby cities as the Traslacion started early Tuesday morning.
The devotees, clad in maroon and yellow shirts, muscled their way through a frenzied crowd to get near to the centuries-old image of the cross-bearing statue of Jesus Christ, believed by Filipino Catholics to be miraculous.
The annual parade, which covers a 6.9-kilometer route, started from the Quirino Grandstand and will end at the Black Nazarene's home at the Quiapo Church.
To ensure a peaceful and orderly observance of the religious tradition, police have mobilized almost 7,000 policemen along the procession route, said Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
A gun ban and liquor ban have been implemented in the capital city.
Mobile phone services from two major telecommunication firms were also temporarily cut off in parts of Metro Manila where the procession will pass through.
The Department of Health, on its part, has already placed all hospitals in Manila under code white alert to respond to any incidents that may occur during the event.
Some 2,000 Philippine Red Cross volunteers were also deployed to provide medical assistance.
REMEMBER STORM, MARAWI VICTIMS
On the eve of Traslacion, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle appealed to the faithful to remember fellow Filipinos who suffered from back-to-back storms and the months-long crisis in Marawi.
"Habang tayo'y nagdiriwang, huwag po nating ihihiwalay sa ating mga sarili ang mga kapatid nating nagdurusa, mga kapatid nating nasalanta ng bagyo, mga kapatid natin sa Marawi. Makiisa tayo sa kanila, atin silang buhatin at ilakbay," he said during a midnight mass at the Quirino Grandstand.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, his son Jinggoy, and daughter Jackie attended the mass.
The former senator, who was released from detention last Sept. on bail on graft and plunder charges, has one wish to the Black Nazarene.
"Hiling ko ay makalaya naman ang kasama kong nakulong si Sen. Bong Revilla," the younger Estrada said.
Meanwhile, many pilgrims stayed overnight in Quiapo to wait for the arrival of the Black Nazarene, which is housed at the Quiapo Church.
The overcrowded streets didn't dissuade 66-year-old Linda Casas to celebrate the sacred image.
She suffered a stroke in 2016, but she said she was getting strong because of her devotion to the revered Black Nazarene.
"Masaya lang ako dahil pinapalakas ako ni Nazareno," she said.
Barely an hour after the start of Traslacion, the Philippine Red Cross has already responded to 34 incidents.
As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, they recorded 28 cases of hypertension, three people who sustained abrasions, and three people who sustained lacerations. - reports from Anjo Bagaoisan and Dennis Datu, ABS-CBN News