By Christina Hermoso, Leslie Ann Aquino, and Chito Chavez
Thousands of devotees of the revered Poong Hesus Nazareno from different parts of the country are expected to converge today, January 8 at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila for the series of activities that will be held during the overnight vigil, a prelude to the grand Traslacion procession early tomorrow, January 9.
Devotees, mostly clad in maroon and yellow shirts, that include the elderly, the sick, and persons with disabilities traditionally line up for hours for the “Pahalik sa Poong Nazareno.”
A calendar of activities released by Quiapo Church showed that the “pahalik” will begin at 8 a.m. today. Other activities at the Quirino Grandstand include a band parade to be followed by an overnight vigil which will include spiritual talks, youth dance/drama presentations and catechesis.
A Holy Mass will be held at midnight at the grandstand while at the Quiapo Church, the last of the nine-day novena masses that began last December 31 will be held at 6 p.m.
Msgr. Coronel said, they are “praying for a more peaceful and safer procession this year” as he asked for prayers for a successful celebration. He has repeatedly appealed to the elderly, the sick, pregnant women, parents with small children, and the intoxicated not to attend the procession for safety reasons. Instead, he urged them to just pray at the designated prayer stations that will be set up in strategic areas.
“There is no need to push and shove as the Nazareno is in Quiapo Church the whole year for you to kiss, touch, venerate,” Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church, said.
“We should also think about the welfare and safety of other devotees,” he added.
On Monday, thousands of devotees of the revered Poong Hesus Nazareno, carrying replica images in different sizes including heirlooms and centuries-old icons, joined the procession of replicas of the Black Nazarene through the streets of Quiapo, Manila. The replicas were blessed after the procession.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Deboto ng Poong Hesus Nazareno: Hinirang at Pinili Upang Maging Lingkod Niya” (Isaiah 49:5) to highlight the mission and responsibilities of the devotees who were called to serve in His name.
Meanwhile, devotees who will be joining Wednesday’s procession may have to endure some light rains throughout the day.
Based on the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAGASA) said partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains will prevail throughout the day over the metropolis.
However, it does not expect the formation of a low pressure area or tropical cyclone.
Church leaders and environmental advocates brandishing placards and banners with the word: “Ipagbunyi ang malinis na Traslacion. Iwaksi ang makalat na Trash-lacion (Hail a waste-free traslacion. Shun a messy trash-lacion)” assembled in front of Quiapo Church to appeal for a trash-fee celeberation.
Citing figures from the Manila City Hall, the groups recounted that 385 tons of mixed garbage were collected from Traslacion 2018, which was 11 percent higher than the 341 tons hauled during the 2017 celebration.
The wastes were collected from Rizal Park (venue of the Pahalik and overnight vigil), and along the six-kilometer processional path.
Led by the Quezon City based EcoWaste Coalition, Buklod Tao, Green Brigade Committee of Quiapo Church and the Ecology Ministry of San Roque de Manila Parish, the pro-environment assembly called attention to the primary responsibility of the Black Nazarene devotees in preventing garbage from again sullying the faith-based occasion.
“Hundreds of sweepers for sure will be assigned to pick up the trash left behind by the passionate believers, as well as enterprising vendors. But why litter and expect other people to clean up after you? As ‘cleanliness is next to godliness,’ we request all the devotees to be responsible for their discards, protect our common environment from garbage, and take care of each other as brothers and sisters in faith. As stewards of the earth, please commit to a trash-less Traslacion,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
The advocates for a trash-less Traslacion were joined by fellow environmentalist and “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes.
The EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers last year found mounds of rubbish at Rizal Park and the processional route.
The rubbish left behind by the devotees were composed of corrugated boxes, foils, newspapers and plastics used as sleeping mats; food and beverage packaging such as 3-in-1 coffee sachets, cup noodles, paper and plastic cups and polystyrene containers; food leftovers; plastic bags; and cigarette butts. (With a report from Ria Fernandez)