DOH appeal to Filipino Catholics on Sto. Niño feast: Stay home

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2021 03:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2021 07:36 PM

Video courtesy of Department of Health

Bishop: Masses will be held nationwide, not just in Tondo, Pandacan

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Health on Friday called on Filipino Catholics to mark the Feast of the Sto. Niño at home as churches across the country prepared for the religious event while authorities were wary of a repeat of mass crowding seen at the recent Black Nazarene feast. 

In a virtual briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire warned that such an event might trigger further spread of COVID-19. 

The occasion comes as the country confirmed that the new, more transmissible COVID-19 strain was already in its shores, detected in a Filipino who returned from Dubai.

“Sana po naman ngayon ay mapakinggan tayo ng mas lubos (I hope they listen intently). Alam natin (we know) these kinds of events might cause an increase in the number of cases,” Vergeire said.

“So hindi pa ho natin nararamdaman ang epekto ng Traslacion, sana dito sa pistahang ito dito sa Sto. Niño na event hindi mangyari ang nangyari tulad ng dati,” she added, referring to the gathering of around 400,000 people during the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on January 9.

(We haven’t felt yet the effect of the Traslacion. I hope for this Sto. Niño feast it won’t happen again.)

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said Masses to mark the Feast of the Child Jesus will be held across the country, not just in churches in Tondo and Pandacan. 

He, thus, urged devotees not to gather en masse at the 2 Manila churches as a precaution against COVID 19. 

“Isa pang reminder na ang Misa ng Sto. Niño ay ginagawa sa lahat ng simbahan kasi ang piyesta ng Sto. Niño ay sa buong simbahan ng Pilipinas kaya kung ‘di kailangang pumunta sa piling simbahan tulad ng Sto. Niño de Tondo, Sto. Niño de Pandacan. Pwede naman silang magsimba sa iba pang simbahan upang ipakita ang kanilang debosyon sa Sto. Niño,” Pabillo said in a Teleradyo interview.

(One more reminder that Masses for the Sto. Niño will be held nationwide so they don't have to go to select churches like in Tondo or Pandacan. They can go to other churches to show their devotion to the Sto. Niño.)

Experts said a rise in COVID-19 cases may be observed within 14 days after the January 9 event due to the incubation period of the COVID-19 virus. 

This is on top of the surge expected in the wake of heightened activity during the holidays. 

Vergeire pointed out that they had good coordination with Quiapo Church, the local government of Manila and other agencies but that devotees still decided to go out despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that while she understands the devotees, they also have to consider what might happen.

“Sana isipin natin na maaari tayong magkasakit. 'Pag tayo ay pumunta sa mga mass gathering na ito hindi lang tayo ang magkakasakit kundi magkakahawa-hawa kayo at dadami po ang sakit sa komunidad,” she said.

(I hope they realize that they can get sick. If we go to a mass gathering, we can infect each other and more people in the community will get sick.)

The Philippine National Police earlier said that it would impose strict measures in Manila in preparation for the Feast of Sto. Niño, which is annually celebrated in Tondo and Pandacan.