Black Nazarene Traslacion more orderly, peaceful

Devotees jostle to reach the carriage of the image of the Black Nazarene during the procession in Binondo, Manila Tuesday.

MANILA — A sea of heaving, towel-waving humanity swarmed the statue of the Black Nazarene in Manila Tuesday as the Catholic faithful joined one of the nation’s largest religious festivals under tight security.

Despite the frenzied display of religious fervor, the procession was more orderly than in previous years, according to organizers of the event.

Manila Police District (MPD) spokesman Supt. Erwin Margarejo said the procession moved relatively faster than in the past years and they expected the image to be back in Quiapo Church shortly after midnight.

As of 5:15 p.m. yesterday, the police estimated the crowd who joined the Traslacion at 2.5 million.

“With the police leading the way and driving away people who were blocking the road, it was easier for the organizers to maneuver the carriage,” Margarejo said.
Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong said he was almost moved to tears by the sight of the praying and orderly start of the Traslacion.

Unlike previous years when some devotees were unruly and disrespectful, this year they waited patiently, praying on their knees until the image was properly placed on the andas (carriage) before they made a mad dash to get hold of the rope. 

In recent years, the start of the annual Traslacion has always been attended by mayhem, with impatient devotees crashing through iron fences and forcing an abrupt end to mass or morning prayers.

Yesterday, some were amazed by the discipline and patience of the thousands of devotees as they listened to instructions of the organizers.

They knelt during the praying of the “Our Father” and waved their white handkerchiefs when they were told. Only a few were seen attempting to advance toward the stage, but they were immediately told to wait.

The andas left the stage at the Quirino Grandstand at exactly 5 a.m. without any hitches.

Police said some 300,000 devotees initially went with the procession.

A greater number waited along the route and the crowd began to swell by the thousands as the andas crawled through its 10-kilometer journey to Quiapo Church.
Security officials said they were also concerned with possible stampedes in a dawn-to-midnight event that some say could draw millions.

Officials estimated the crowd went up to four million by late afternoon.
The statue will pass through the streets of old Manila as it is taken to its home in Quiapo Church.

“It was more orderly now, compared to the past procession of the? Black Nazarene in previous years. Very few were reported hurt,” Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said.

“I’m happy that none of that incident happened in this year’s Traslacion. The devotees are more orderly and disciplined this year. It is an indication of their high discipline and the organizers, the police, the city government departments have executed well-planned measures,” he said.