2020 Traslacion: Faster procession expected with new route - organizer
This year's procession of the Black Nazarene in the capital, one of the world's biggest shows of Catholic zeal, is expected to end faster as it takes a new route, one of its organizers said Friday.
The Traslacion, which draws millions of barefoot devotees every year, will pass through the Ayala Bridge for the first time instead of 3 other bridges which were recently repaired.
"Inaasahan lang na mas maikli, makabalik sana nang mas maaga sa Quiapo [ang Traslacion]," said Fr. Douglas Badong, vicar of Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, home of the 400-year-old ebony statue of Jesus Christ.
"Pero hindi pa namin matantya kung anong oras makabalik kasi siyempre minsan nakadepende rin sa attitude ng mga namamasan," the priest told radio DZMM.
(We expect that the Traslacion will be shorter and will return earlier to Quiapo. But we cannot estimate the time yet because that sometimes depend on the attitude of the devotees.)
Last year's Traslacion took about 22 hours and drew some 4 million faithful, many of whom believe touching the Black Nazarene or being in its presence can heal the sick or grant good fortune.
Authorities are on the lookout for "risk factors" during the procession, including terrorism, crimes, hazards and potential stampedes, said Manila police chief Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balba.
Vendors are barred from staying in the Traslacion route and selling snacks in glass bottles or on sticks, which caused several deaths in previous years, he said.
The public is prohibited from drinking liquor outside their homes during the procession. Authorities meanwhile are studying jamming
cellphone signals for the Traslacion, he added.
Devotees, most walking barefoot in maroon and yellow shirts, jostle each year to touch the ropes pulling the carriage of the Black Nazarene or throw white towels to wipe the statue believed to have miraculous powers.
It is not known why the statue, which was carved in Mexico, turned black. There are myths that the original statue donated by Spanish priests was burned as a fire erupted on the ship that carried it to the Philippines in the early 17th century.
About 80 percent of 100 million Filipinos are Roman Catholic. The Philippines is renowned for its colorful religious rituals, and the celebration of the "Black Nazarene" is a tradition in the former Spanish colony that goes back more than 2 centuries. With a report from Reuters
DZMM, Jan. 3, 2020