'Very smooth': Priest praises record-time Black Nazarene procession

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2020 10:39 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2020 12:28 AM

Filipino devotees join the annual Catholic procession of the Black Nazarene during its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2020. Reuters, Eloisa Lopez

MANILA - The head of the Catholic Media Network (CMN), the broadcasting arm of the country's Catholic bishops' conference, praised on Thursday what was arguably the fastest edition of the annual Black Nazarene procession, or Traslacion, in Manila.

Fr. Francis Lucas, president of CMN, lauded this year's Traslacion, which ended just before 9 p.m. Thursday as the image was returned to its original location in Quiapo Church after being brought to the Quirino Grandstand, more than 16 hours since it started amid tighter security and stricter regulations.

"Very smooth ang nangyari," he told radio DZMM.

The Black Nazarene returned to Quiapo Church at 8:46 p.m., nearly five hours earlier than the end of the procession last year. 

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno called the event "record-breaking" as the Traslacion took a shorter time than usual. Black Nazarene processions in previous years had taken more than 20 hours.

By police estimates, some 3.3 million people joined the procession, with more than 530,000 gathered at Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church, the culmination of one of the country's biggest religious events. 

Around 13,000 policemen were deployed in the procession, which did not sit well with some devotees who complained they were unable to get near the Nazarene icon because of policemen.

Lucas said it is impossible that all of the procession participants will be able to get near the Black Nazarene because of the numbers of devotees.

"Hindi magagalit ang Diyos sa inyo kung ang intensyon niyo lang is makaakyat kayo sa [Nazareno] at hindi kayo nakaakyat," he said. "Maawain ang Diyos."

Lucas revealed church officials planned this year's Traslacion with concerned authorities.

"Pumayag ang Simbahan sa lahat ng 'yan, kasama sila sa pagpaplano dahil sa efficiency, safety and security," he said.