“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
—Colossians 3:4 of the bible.
This verse on love and unity is the theme of this year’s Traslacion for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
Fr. Douglas Badong, Quiapo Church’s Parochial Vicar explained the verse further during a press conference held on Monday (January 2): “Mula sa sulat ni apostol San Pablo sa mga taga Colossas: ‘Pagibig ang buklod ng ganap na pagkakaisa’ (is the theme for this year). Ang mga mamasan o mga deboto ay binubuo ng mga iba’t ibang mga grupo o organisasyon at lahat naman sila ay nagpapahiwatig na sana magkaisa para mas maging maayos yung daloy ng prusisyon, maging mapayapa yung paglabas, walang disgrasya, walang mapahamak o kung ano man.”
In Filpino, Fr. Badong continued, “We are offering this for peace and for the other problems affecting the country. If God is not in the center of our daily lives, then our devotion is useless.”
A corresponding logo was made by a devotee to compliment the theme, which depicts the Nazarene on top, being carried by mamamasan (devotees).
As early as last month, preparations for the Traslacion on Monday, January 9, have been ongoing and will be observing the following schedules:
• From December 31, 2016 till January 8, 2017, Novena Masses are being held dailyl at 6 p.m.
• January 2 to 6 at 7 p.m. Barangay Visitation wherein devotees hold prayer vigils, novenas, and catechesis in their respective parishes.
• January 7 at 2 p.m.: Procession of the Replicas of the Black Nazarene
• January 8 at 5 p.m. onwards: Fiesta Vigil at Quirino Grandstand
• January 9 at 12 a.m.: Eucharistic Celebration at Quirino Grandstand
3 a.m.: Hourly Eucharistic Celebration at Quiapo Church
• January 10: Arrival of the Black Nazarene at Quiapo Church
Police authorities and organizers estimate a total of 18 million people participating throughout the duration of the feast, which started last December 31, 2016.
Quiapo Church also announced that there will be simultaneous Traslacion in Cagayan De Oro, and for the first time in Tagum City.
The image of the Black Nazarene is said to be miraculous, thus gathering a large number of devotees. Quiapo Church rector and parish priest Msgr. Hernando Coronel noted while sharing testimonies of miracles, “Totoo ang Nazareno. Yung sa bibliya, hindi lamang kwento. Yung ginawa ni Hesus noon sa bibliya, ginagawa nya rin ngayon kaya napakaraming tao ang nagpupunta.”
Eugenio Jongco, 70 year old, vice president of Hijos Del Nazareno Central, and a 50-year devotee of the Black Nazarene, claims the same.
“Naging bahagi na siya ng buhay mo. Unang una , kahit anong problema na ilapit ko sa kanya, nairaraos ko. May mga tulong na dumadating na di mo inaasahan,” Jongco told InterAksyon.
Fr. Badong advised devotees to prepare mentally, physically, emotionally, and most especially, spiritually. He also advised the old and those that are sick not to join the procession.
He advised in Filipino, “Since devotees will be barefooted during the procession, they should cut their toenails because that is the number one cause of injury. Because of the emotional intensity, people tend to elbow each other although although our devotees are not really offended by it. So those who are short-tempered, I advise them not to join the procession to avoid untoward incidents.”
It is not advisable to bring children, however, if it is unavoidable, let them have a paper with identification details with them. Adult devotees are also advised to have one as well.
Fr. Badong also reminded adults to guide the youth on the meaning of the traslacion, and to make the latter realize that one’s goal in the procession isn’t just about being able to touch the Black Nazarene but to pray, serve, and bring the image back to its home in Quiapo Church.
Otherwise, the priest noted, devotees can always touch the Black Nazarene 365 days a year in the church.
“Pwede na kayo pumila dyan ngayong nandyan pa yung mga imahe. Ngayon n’yo gawin ‘yan para ‘di na kayo masaktan sa mismong araw ng Traslacion para yung oras natin ay dedicated sa pagdarasal habang sumasama tayo sa prusisyon para maging mas peaceful,” he added.
Fr. Coronel shared that the traslacion is also an opportunity for Manila City to gather local and foreign tourists alike. He said, ”Even non-Catholics observe the festival.”
This year, the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau is assisting in the festival. Its Director, Flordeliza Villasenor told InterAksyon, “This is a spiritual activity but we can see that a lot of people flock to the event. The influx of tourists, of course, is a big boost especially with international pilgrims, for instance, who book themselves in hotels to witness the procession. But prior or before after that, they also make sure to move around. They visit our office to ask for assistance.”
Villasenor also noted that for years up to today, hotels in Manila enjoy a high occupancy a week before the traslacion. The feast of the Black Nazarene is one of the city’s events that generate the most number of tourists in Manila.