MANILA - The commemoration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene this year is so far peaceful, with thousands of devotees patiently lining up outside of Quiapo Church to hear mass Saturday.
“Sa ngayon peaceful naman, very cooperative 'yung mga deboto matiyagang naghihintay, pumipila,” said Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.
(So far it’s peaceful and devotees are very cooperative, patiently waiting and lining up.)
A total of 15 masses are scheduled at the Quiapo Church and only 400 people are allowed inside per mass. The church would be disinfected every after mass before the next set of devotees is allowed inside.
The annual Traslacion, the grand procession of the image of the Black Nazarene that draws millions, has been canceled because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang misa hangggang alas-10 ng gabi, 'yun ang huling misa,” said Badong in an interview on TeleRadyo.
Around 6,000 from the Manila Police District and the National Capital Region Police Office will be deployed around Quiapo, augmented by force multipliers to maintain peace and order and ensure that health protocols against the spread of COVID-19 are strictly followed.
“Pinagtutuunan ng mga kapulisan at mga Hijos na maging mas maayos pa hanggang sa mga sususnod na oras na baka mas dumami pa po 'yung tao,” said Badong.
(Police and the Hijos are helping each other maintain order as more people are expected to come.)
Badong said LED screens were set up around Quaipo to allow more people who could not enter the church to still hear the mass.
“May pumupunta na lay minister para bigyan sila ng komunyon at basbasan ng Holy Water 'yung religious articles nila,” he said.
(A lay minister goes around the area to give communion and bless their religious articles with Holy Water.)
Devotees who cannot attend masses at Quiapo Church can also visit replicas of the Black Nazarene at the Sta. Cruz Church and San Sebastian Church.
“Sa lahat ng simbahan sa buong Pilipinas nagdiriwang ngayon ng novena ng kapistahan ng Nazareno. Naka Facebook live naman po ang misa,” he said
(Churches across the Philippines are also holding novenas for the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Masses are also streamed live on Facebook.)
Badong said the image of the Black Nazarene traditionally used in the procession is now in the balcony of the church.
“Basta may pananampalataya, kahit sa screen titigan mo ang Nazareno maipagkakaloob 'yung biyaya po. Physically present ka man o nasa virtual o nasa labas ka lang, alam ng Nazareno 'yung nilalaman ng puso natin kung bakit tayo nagsasakripisyo dito,” he said.
(Even by just looking at the Nazareno on the screen, as long as you have faith, the same blessing will be bestowed upon you. Whether you are physically or virtually present, or even outside the church, the Nazarene would know what’s in our hearts and why we do this sacrifice.)
For Badong, his personal wish is for the COVID-19 pandemic to end and for the clarity of minds and faith in God among leaders who make decisions in the country's pandemic response.
“Sa mga lider natin kasi sa kanila nakasalalay 'yung kalagayan natin,” he said.
(The welfare of the people depends on our leaders.)
The City of Manila suspended classes in all levels in both public and private schools as well as work in local government on Saturday to allow people to hear online masses and participate in other activities related to the Feast of the Black Nazarene.