Nazareno 2023 draws 1.2 million devotees
MANILA, Philippines — The activities for this year’s Black Nazarene celebration draw 1.2 million devotees, lesser than the authorities’ initial projection of five million faithful.
The management of Quiapo Church said one of the reasons for the lower attendance count is the cancellation of Traslacion.
The total number of people who attended the religious activities from January 6-10 reached 1,268,435.
Most of the devotees flocked to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the Quiapo Church which drew 925,782 attendees.
Quirino Grandstand, where the sacred image was displayed for “Pagbibigay-pugay” (giving tribute), received 254,653 devotees. This was the alternative to the traditional “Pahalik.”
The first-ever “Walk of Faith” also drew 88,000 devotees.
The “Walk of Faith” procession, from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church, was much less crowded and more orderly than the traditional “Traslacion,” where crowds swarm around the life-size statue of the Black Nazarene.
Traslacion has been canceled for the third time — first in 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country.
The annual procession is a reenactment of the 1787 Traslacion — literally means “solemn transfer” — of the image from its original shrine in Bagumbayan, the present Rizal Park, to the Quiapo Church.
Traslacion not the sole reason for low turnout
Quiapo Church spokesperson Fr. Earl Valdez said while the cancellation of Traslacion could be one of the factors for the low attendance, that is not the sole reason.
“Probably,” Valdez told INQUIRER.net when asked if the cancellation of Traslacion led to the low attendance, “but we can’t say that that’s the only reason.”
Valdez said the pilgrimage of the replica images in nearby provinces and cities of Luzon could be why fewer devotees flocked the church and the grandstand this time.
The priest also presented a half-glass full perspective on the situation.
“At the very least there are people who are eager to practice their faith and devotion since it is the first celebration of the Feast with minimal restrictions in terms of mobility and crowd control,” he also said.
Meanwhile, the Manila Public Information Office said the total garbage collected in Quiapo Church and Quirino Grandstand has also increased compared to previous years.
“As per [Department of Public Services], for this year total volume is 265 metric tons from January 6-10 equivalent to 99 truck loads,” Manila public information officer Princess Abante said on Tuesday.
Previously, the local government collected 88, 57, and 34 truckloads of trash in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively, according to Abante.
“We collected more trash compared to previous years due to the pandemic setup,” she said.
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