How will the Catholic Church celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene in the time of COVID-19?
Fr. Douglas Badong, vicar of Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said the church's procession committee is considering several proposals on how to conduct the Traslacion next year including the possible cancellation of the procession in Rizal Park to ensure physical distancing rules are followed.
Millions of Filipino Catholic devotees flock to Quiapo every Jan. 9 to join the annual procession of the Black Nazarene which is believed by many to be miraculous.
"Kailangan talaga namin ma-practice ngayon at least 'yung mga tao masanay na ito ang ipapatupad natin, na may physical distancing habang nagsisimba sila sa nobenaryo ng Traslacion," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We need to practice the people to abide by our guidelines of physical distancing while praying during the Traslacion novena.)
Badong appealed to the public for their cooperation as the church eyed proposals on how to conduct the procession where millions of devotees flock in one of the biggest shows of Catholic zeal.
"Sa ngayon po ay talagang naguusap-usap na kami ng proposal sa procession committee na idudulog namin sa IATF. Kung papayagan ng IATF na following all the protocols, 'yun ang gagawin namin. Pero nakaset na rin naman kami na posibleng wala talagang Luneta event ngayon at wala 'yung usual na ginagawa natin," he said.
(We at the procession committee are discussing proposals we will raise to the IATF. If they will allow these protocols, that's what we will follow. But we are also set on the possibility that there would be no more event at Luneta, that there would be no more of what we usually do.)
"Kailangan din ihanda na yung mag deboto na makundisyon na sila na kakaiba ang panahon natin ngayon. Malaking pagbabago talaga sa January 9, sana maging bukas ang mga deboto sa pagbabagong ito. Ngayon lang naman itong may pandemic."
(We need to prepare the devotees because the current situation is different. There will be big changes on January 9, we hope devotees will welcome these, which will be implemented only during the pandemic.)
INCREASE CHURCH CAPACITY
Fr. Badong also urged the government to allow entry of devotees up to at least 30 percent of the church's capacity.
At present only 100 or 10 percent of the 1,000 seating capacity of the church is allowed under government guidelines, according to
"Kaya namin hanggang 50 percent pero kung mapagbigyan sana 'yung kahilingan na kahit 30 percent man lang ay masaya na kami doon," he told ABS-CBN News.
(We can accommodate up to 50 percent but we would be happy even if they allow up to 30 percent only.)
"Sa 100 na katao sa loob ng Simbahan talagang napakaluwag ng Simabahan. Sayang naman yung loob na baka sakali mas ligtas sila sa loob dahil sa loob mame-maintain namin ang physical distancing nila dahil may markings, ushers sa loob."
(The Church is very spacious for 100 people. Maybe devotees would be safer inside where we can maintain their physical distancing due to markings and ushers.)
The church has increased the number of its masses to 8 from 5 daily to accommodate more faithful, he added.