City, church officials brace for Black Nazarene feast; zealots asked to keep the city clean
MANILA, Philippines—Church, city and other officials started to brace themselves on Tuesday for the feast of the Black Nazarene, which is expected this year to draw up to 12 million devotees from all over the country to converge on the Quiapo Church or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in downtown Manila.
The feast, traditionally celebrated on January 9, draws millions of devotees who walk barefooted with the image of the Black Christ in a procession as a sign of penance and thanksgiving for favors received.
Last year, at least nine million devotees participated the procession, traversing a three-kilometer route from the Rizal Park to the Quiapo church in a procession that lasted nine hours.
Church rector Msgr. Clemente Ignacio said the Church has begun its preparations for this year’s festivities
On Wednesday, Quiapo church’s Fiesta Committee met with the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council led by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino to discuss plans on how to manage security, emergency traffic and crowd control during the “traslacion,” the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene, which is believed to be miraculous, from the Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park to the Quiapo Church.
Meanwhile, environmentalists and community leaders around Quiapo area are calling for a “green” celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene.
Local leaders and the environmental network Ecowaste Coalition urged devotees and visitors to couple their devotion to the Black Nazarene with respect for the environment.
The call came as devotees began the first day of the nine-day novena prayers leading to the fiesta celebration on January 9.
“Combining our people’s amazing devotion to the Black Nazarene with action respecting, nurturing and defending Mother Earth will be a powerful force of hope and deliverance against those who trash and ruin the environment,” Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.
“If the millions of devotees who come to Quiapo will simply not litter and avoid waste in all its forms, we’ll have a feast that is pleasing to the eyes and pleasing to the Lord,” she added.
Past celebrations have seen truckloads of garbage collected from Rizal Park to Quiapo that included cigarette butts, candy and snack wrappers, plastic bags, cups, bottles and straws, polystyrene food containers and bamboo skewers that often cause injuries to barefooted devotees.
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