Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Monday ordered barangay officials in Quiapo to begin preparations for the annual Traslacion or the Black Nazarene procession on Jan. 9.
Estrada said the barangays should lead the early planning and preparations in their respective territorial jurisdictions to ensure a hassle-free observance of the Feast of Black Nazarene.
“This early, we should start drawing up plans and contingencies and this must start in the grassroots level, in the barangays. The earlier, the better,” he said.
The city’s inter-agency peace and order council as well as concerned national government agencies, Estrada said, will rely on the inputs to be provided by the Quiapo barangays to formulate various security and traffic plans for the yearly religious event.
Quiapo is composed of 16 barangays—from Barangay 306 to 309 and 383 to 394 that partly make up Zone 30, which covers a total of 36 barangays.
Barangay 306 Chairman Joey Jamisola said the 16 Quiapo barangays will meet in a general meeting on Friday, Dec. 8, along with other stakeholders, especially officials of Quiapo Church.
Jamisola is designated as the chairman of the 16-barangay district.
“We have started discussing among ourselves what we shall do for the upcoming Traslacion and the January 1 procession,” he said in an interview.
Among the matters to be discussed in the general meeting, Jamisola said, are the perennial problem on ambulant and sidewalk vendors, the condition of the roads where the procession will pass through, cleanup operations, and local security.
As with the previous years, he pointed out that the Quiapo barangays have been helping the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau, Department of Engineering and Public Works, Department of Public Services, and other concerned City Hall offices with regards to pre- and post-Traslacion road clearing and cleanup operations, and traffic management.
“First are the vendors,” Jamisola stressed. “We’re now asking them to cooperate because most of them will be temporarily relocated to give way to the procession, and of course, they must not litter.”
To prevent injuries to Black Nazarene devotees, he said the barangays, with the cooperation of the police, will implement certain measures such as the prohibition on the sale of street foods with sticks such as barbecue, kwek-kwek, and banana cue, among others.
Discarded sticks in the streets have caused injuries and inconveniences to bare-footed devotees in the past, Jamisola said.
He added he has asked his fellow barangay officials to look for improperly covered or open manholes, unpaved road spaces, and unattended excavations in their communities, particularly along or near the procession routes, so city engineers will be able to act on it this early.
The Black Nazarene procession last January lasted 22 hours and 19 minutes, the longest in the annual procession’s history. The number of devotees who participated in it also set a record – 3.5 million, based on the estimates of the Manila Police District.
Unfortunately, the procession also produced 12 truckloads or 69.43-ton tons of garbage in the streets, which City Hall officials said, is also a new record.
The procession was relatively peaceful although a total of 1,339 devotees suffered minor injuries but only seven were classified as “major” based on reports provided by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).