Black Nazarene draws 3 million Devotees
by FFE PH News Staff
The Black Nazarene was welcomed with shouts of ‘Viva, Viva Senor Nazareno!’ as it entered Quiapo Church. The procession that began at 7:30am Thursday in Quirino Grandstand was concluded at 2am Friday and was followed by a mass.
The police deployed around 6,000 personnel to attend to what the church expected was 12 million participants. As an added measure, snipers have also been deployed in certain rooftops across the city. Radio and television crews which covered the event placed the estimated number of crowd at 3 million, although police cannot confirm the figure. The six-kilometre procession also led to a traffic build-up, but no incidents of road rage were reported.
This year’s procession has been marked for the extra aggressiveness of the crowd. Just after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the homily, overzealous devotees broke through police barricade to start the procession, cutting the mass short. One priest said that this is the first time devotees disrespected the mass. Fortunately, church workers were able to remove the icon’s crown and other articles to save them from the crowd.
Quiapo Church rector monsignor Clemente Ignacio said ‘[The devotees’] emotion was intense, perhaps because of poverty and what our country went through in the past year.’ He stressed that security measures for the feast should be reviewed in the future.
According to organisers, around 1,686 people fell ill or were injured during the hours-long procession. Philippine Red Cross meanwhile reported to have tended to 854 devotees.
This year’s route stretched 6.4 kilometres, and had schools closing and certain roads in Manila cordoned off from motorists. The city is notorious for snail-paced traffic, especially during the week of the Feast of the Black Nazarene. But one motorist observed that commuters and drivers have been generally patient and understanding of the unusual situation.