MANILA, Philippines — For the second straight year of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no traditional “Traslacion” to commemorate the feast of the Black Nazarene. Quiapo Church was also be closed as only online masses were only available for devotees.
The decision was made following a consultation dialogue held this week between Manila city government officials led by city administrator Felix Espiritu and Quiapo Church officials led by Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, the formal name of Quiapo Church.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso thanked Monsignor Hernando Coronel, parish priest of Quiapo Church, for responding favorably to their request to cancel both the Traslacion, which is the highlight of the Feast of the Black Nazarene, and the holding of face-to-face masses in the minor basilica.
“Mabigat po sa kalooban ko na hindi tayo magmisa ng pisikal. Alam natin nakagawian na natin ‘yan dahil sa ating pananampalataya lalo na ‘yung nananalig sa Poong Nazareno. Ipagpapasensya po ninyo ito ay para rin naman sa inyong kaligtasan at ng inyong mga anak o pamilya. Maraming maraming Salamat sa kaparian ng Quiapo at kay Monsignor Coronel sa pagtugon nila. Sarado ang simbahan, online mass tayo,” Moreno said during a press conference at the Manila City Hall Wednesday.
Moreno is also calling on all “hijos” to understand their decision in canceling the Traslacion as a way of protecting themselves and their families and friends from Covid-19, particularly its highly-contagious Omicron variant.
The 47-year-old local chief executive also called on devotees not to go to Quiapo Church, particularly in Plaza Miranda, and parade their replicas of the Black Nazarene. Video walls will also not be set-up outside the church to discourage parishioners from going there amid the spike in Covid-19 cases.
“Ako ay nananawagan din, nararamdaman ko ang damdamin ng mga Hijos. Nalulungkot ako hindi natin magagawa ‘yung dati nating ginagawa. Nararamdaman ko po ang damdamin ninyo at kagustuhan na taon-taon kayo ay sumama, dalhin ang kanya-kanyang replica sa Quaipo,” Moreno said.
“Nakikisuyo ako huwag po ninyo dadahlin. Mahigpit pong ipatutupad ang mga pag-iingat at ako naman ay naniniwala na mga responsableng indibidwal pa rin kayo bagamat sa hirap at pagsubok na dinadaanan natin ngayong panahon na ito ay alam ko umaangkla na lang tayo sa ating pananampalataya sa Diyos,” he added.
To further discourage devotees from stopping-over in front of Quiapo Church to pray, Moreno said law enforcement units will be deployed within the perimeter of the church and secondary perimeter covering the entry points to Manila going to the direction of Quiapo Church.
“So, ako ang panawagan ko huwag na po kayong magpunta. May inaalay sa inyo ang Quiapo Parish na online mass. Umupo tayo sa bahay, hawak-hawak tayo ng kamay, ng pamilya natin, magdasal tayo ng taimtim sa kanya-kanya nating tahanan para naman sa inyong kaligtasan,” Moreno said.
“So, maaari kayong pauwiin, maaari kayong paalisin. So, I would rather huwag na kayo gumastos para pumunta. Magdasal na lang. Tulong-tulong na lang, tulungan nyo kami para sa inyong kaligtasan. Walang video, sarado ang simbahan,” he said.
A liquor ban will be imposed in areas around Quiapo Church to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 during the feast of the Black Nazarene.
“I just signed an executive order prohibiting the sale of liquor and other alcoholic beverages and directing the strict implementation of Ordinance No. 5555 (Drinking in Public Places) sa panahon ng kapistahan ng Nazareno. Ito po ay magsisimula by 6 p.m. of January 8 at magtatapos ng 6 a.m. of January 10,” Moreno told reporters in a press briefing.
Moreno also recalled what his late mother told him that when a person intends to have a close relationship with God, he or she can do that anytime and regardless of where you are.
“Basta ang payo na sinabi ng nanay ko, ang Diyos pwede mong makausap kahit anong oras, kahit anong araw, kahit nasaan ka. Humingi ka ng tawad, humingi ka ng blessings, guidance anytime pwede mo ‘yang gawin. You can be a responsible parishioner,” the 47-year-old Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer said.
Celebrated every January 9, the annual feast attracts millions of devotees from all walk of life as part of their “panata” or vow after receiving “miracles” or answered prayers to their petitions as a sign of gratitude.
Many of those who participate in the yearly “Traslacion” believe that the Black Nazarene will heal them of their ailments as well as their family members.
The last “Traslacion” was held on Jan. 9, 2020. More than two months later on March 15, the national government placed the entire country on lockdown due to the rising cases of Covid-19 infection resulting in the current pandemic