Roman Catholic faithful from all over the country will come in droves as some five million devotees are expected to join today’s Traslacion or the traditional procession of the Black Nazarene.
The annual faith-based activity officially starts with a pre-dawn Mass from Quirino Grandstand before a procession that will take the sacred image to Quiapo Church.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Guillermo Eleazar said they will divide the 6.1-kilometer procession route to 10 segments, to ensure maximum safety and security of the devotees.
Each segment will be manned by a police commander accompanied by an emergency medical team.
The procession will take the route from Quirino Grandstand left to Katigbak Drive through Padre Burgos Street.
It will turn left to Taft Avenue through Jones Bridge, right to Dasmariñas Street, right to Plaza Sta. Cruz Street, left to Carlos Palanca Street through under Quezon Bridge.
Then going left to Quezon Boulevard, right to Arlegui Street, right again to Fraternal Street, then right to Vergara Street.
It will then turn left to Duque de Alba Street, left again to Castillejos Street, left to Farnecio Street, then right to Arlegui Street.
Then left to Nepomuceno Street, left to Concepcion Aguila Street, right to Carcer Street, right to Hidalgo Street through Plaza del Carmen, left to Bilibid Viejo through Gil Puyat.
Then left to JP de Guzman Street, right to Hidalgo Street, left to Barbosa Street, right to Arlegui Street, left to Quezon Blvd, right to Palanca Street through under Quezon Bridge right to Villalobos Street through Plaza Miranda all the way to Quiapo Church.
As in the previous years, the procession of the image is expected to last more than 20 hours, as church officials believe that more participants will join today’s feast than the past years.
Last year, a total of 21 million participated in the whole celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene and church officials expect this number to be exceeded this year.
“The number of devotees of the Nazarene continues to increase yearly,” Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church said.
This, as thousands of devotees of the Black Nazarene started flocking to the Quirino Grandstand yesterday as the traditional Pahalik or kissing of the image was opened to the public.
As of 12 noon, the NCRPO Regional Tactical Operation Center estimated the crowd at the grandstand at more or less 20,000 people who were queuing up to kiss the Black Nazarene.
Eleazar expects the crowd at the grandstand to swell to hundreds of thousands overnight before the official start of the procession.
He also reiterated on Tuesday that there is “no verified information” of any security threat against the annual procession.
Official accounts indicate the Black Nazarene was carried from Mexico to the Philippines by the Augustinian Recollect priests in the16th century through a galleon.
The ship, however, caught fire which explained why the image turned black.
It was initially housed in the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan and was then transferred to the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino.
It has been in Quiapo Church since the 17th century and is only brought out for public viewing during the three events — the Feast of Black Nazarene, Good Friday and New Year’s Day.
With Elmer N. Manuel and Raymart Lolo