Quiapo Church reminds devotees: No ‘pahalik’ for 2021 Feast of the Black Nazarene
MANILA, Philippines — Traditional rituals such as the “pahalik” (kissing of the image of the Black Nazarene) will be replaced by the “pagpupugay” (paying tribute) and “pagtanaw” (viewing of the image) during the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Saturday, January 9, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among devotees.
“Sa ngayon dahil isa sa pinanggagalingan ng virus ay yung [pag hawak], wala po munang [pahalik] sa taong ito, imbes na pahalik ay meron po muna kaming mga pag pupugay na tinatawag,” Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (popularly called the Quiapo Church) said in an interview with Teleradyo on Wednesday.
(Since touching is one of the ways to transmit the virus, we will not allow devotees to kiss and touch the image this year. Instead, we will encourage devotees to just pay tribute without the usual ritual.)
Badong said devotees can get a glimpse of the image which was put on display at the balcony of the Quiapo Church.
“Idinungaw natin yung imahe ng Nazareno na siyang ginagamit natin sa prusisyon at ang mga tao po pwede sila sumaglit dito sa simbahan, iwagayway nila ang kanilang panyo bilang tanda ng pagpupugay sa Poong Nzareno,” he added.
(We displayed the image of the Black Nazarene, the replica which we have been using during the annual processions, and devotees can visit the Quiapo Church so they can wave their handkerchief and pay tribute.)
He added that devotees will also not be able to wipe their handkerchiefs on the image – another ritual done by devotees. Still, Badong assured that their handkerchiefs can still be blessed after every Mass.
Those who are planning to visit the Quiapo Church on Saturday are likewise discouraged to bring big replicas of the Black Nazarene image.
“Sa January 9 ‘wag na pong dadalhin, kami po ay nakikiusap na wag na dahil sayang po ang espasyo nga iko-consume ng replica at kayo po ay ‘di rin talaga papapasukin ng ating mga volumteer at kapulisan, sa entry points pa lang po ay haharangin na po ‘yan,” the parochial vicar noted.
(We are pleading to the public not to bring their image replicas on January 9 since it might consume space. You will also be barred by our volunteers and the police to enter or pass through our entry points.)
“‘Yung maliliit basta nabibitbit pwede para mabasbasan. Pero ‘yung malalaki, ‘yung mga naka karosa at naka truck, wag po muna nating ipilit,” he added.
(They can bring small so we can bless it. But, they should refrain from insisting to bring big replicas that are in a carriage or truck.)
First time in many years
This is just among the adjustments made by the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene to ensure the safety of everyone during this year’s celebration amid the pandemic.
For the first time since it started in January 1787, church officials announced the cancellation of the Traslacion or annual grand procession of the image of the Black Nazarene – the highlight of the feast where millions of devotees walk barefoot ahead of and behind the life-size image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross.
Devotees jostle with each other for the chance to touch the image which is carried by a sea of devotees onboard the “andas” or carriage. The image which originally came from Mexico is believed by many devotees to be miraculous.
Alex Irasga, head of the Traslacion working committee, said on Wednesday that only 400 churchgoers and devotees can enter the Quiapo Church for each Mass that will be held on Saturday.
There will be a total of 15 Masses for the whole day, which means that 6,000 devotees could enter the church during the entire day.
Irasga added that those who will not be able to enter the Quiapo Church are urged to attend Masses at the nearby Sta. Cruz Church and the San Sebastian Church.
LED monitors will also be put up in Quezon Boulevard, Carriedo, Carlos Palanca, Plaza Miranda, and Plaza San Juan to enable devotees to watch the Masses through the screens.
As part of its efforts to ensure the safety of the devotees, Quiapo Church also advised people to stay inside their homes and stream masses online.
“No virus can break a devotees’ vow”
“Wala naman pong pandemya, walang virus ang makakaputol sa panata ng isang deboto. Pero ang isang deboto kailangan isaalang-alang na iba ang sitwasyon ngayong meron tayong virus,” Badong said.
(There is no pandemic, no virus, that can break the solemn vow of a devotee. However, a devotee must keep in mind that our situation right now is different due to the virus.)
“Bilang isang namamanata, kailangan natin maindindihan na mayroong ibang pamamaraan ngayon na dapat nating gawin para maipahayag pa rin ‘yung debosyon,” he added.
(As a devotee, we need to understand that there are other ways where we can still express and show our devotion to the Black Nazarene.)
The parochial vicar assured that even without the usual rituals and traditions that have been part of many devotees’ lives, they can still celebrate the feast this year.