As the Holy Week began for the country’s Christian faithful, an official of the Quiapo Church said on Sunday the procession of the Black Nazarene on Good Friday, April 15, will be conducted through a motorcade that will follow the same route as the Traslacion.
“The Black Nazarene will come out on Good Friday but it will be via motorcade. It will not be pulled using a rope by devotees,” Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.
Meanwhile, railway services in Metro Manila will be suspended for a few days in observance of the Holy Week and for their annual maintenance activities, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said yesterday.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also monitored 13,640 outbound passengers from ports across the country on Sunday ahead of Holy Week.
In a Facebook post, the PCG also said 10,421 inbound passengers were recorded.
In a related development, Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula unveiled the “Homeless Jesus” statue at the Manila Cathedral on Palm Sunday.
Crafted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, the image depicts Jesus as a homeless man sleeping on a bench while wrapped in a blanket. Jesus is identifiable by the crucifixion wounds on his feet.
Shown to the public just in time for Holy Week, Manila Cathedral hoped it would “inspire reflections and conversations on how we care for the poor and homeless in the community.”
“May this statue not only become a place for visits or pictures, but a space to deepen our prayer, and to convert and change our hearts,” itsaid in a previous press statement.
Other replicas of the statue are located in Buenos Aires, Capernaum, New York, Madrid, Melbourne, Rome, and Singapore.
The Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 (MRT 3) and the Light Rail Transit-Line 2 (LRT2) will be closed from April 13 (Holy Wednesday) to April 17 (Easter Sunday). Regular operations are expected to resume on April 18.
On April 12, Holy Tuesday, LRT2 operations will run from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. while MRT3 operations will follow the normal schedule.
Philippine National Railways, meanwhile, will halt its operations from April 14 (Maundy Thursday) to April 16 (Black Saturday). Normal operations will resume on April 17, Easter Sunday.
The management of Light Rail Transit-1 (LRT1) earlier announced that operations will be suspended from April 14 (Maundy Thursday) to April 17 (Easter Sunday) to give way to its annual maintenance activities.
From April 11 to 13, LRT1 operating hours will start at 4:30 a.m. The last train from Baclaran Station will operate at 9:15 p.m., while that from Balintawak Station will be at 9:30 p.m.
Regular LRT1 operations will resume on Monday, April 18, according to the DOTr.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board earlier said that it will go on heightened alert as the volume of commuters is expected to increase for travel during Holy Week and the summer season.
To ensure the safety of seaborne trips, at least 1,965 personnel have been deployed in 15 PCG Districts to inspect 156 vessels and 193 motorbancas.
The PCG had placed districts, stations, and sub-stations on heightened alert from April 8 to 18 to manage the influx of port passengers during the Holy Week.
It noted that the heightened alert would also cover the length of the summer vacation period, until May 31, in anticipation of local tourists who will travel by sea for recreational purposes.
“The riding public is encouraged to coordinate with the PCG through its official Facebook page or the Coast Guard Public Affairs (0927-560-7729) for inquiries, concerns, and clarifications regarding sea travel protocols and regulations during Holy Week and summer vacation this year,” PCG said.
On the Black Nazarene, Fr. Badong added: “Hijos or devotees are also not allowed to hop on the motorcade. I hope they will understand this on Friday.”
Badong noted the route of the Black Nazarene motorcade would be the same as the one normally used during the Traslacion.
The Traslacion is the Catholic faithful’s annual religious event involving the traditional procession of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand back to Quiapo Church.
“The Black Nazarene will depart from the Quiapo Church at midnight. Everyone who will join the motorcade must wear a face mask and we discourage them from going barefoot,” Badong reminded devotees.
This year’s traditional Traslacion was canceled for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Badong then explained that the Quiapo Church had resumed most of its activities, particularly for the Holy Week. These activities had been halted for over two years since the onset of COVID-19.
“The youth will lead a Senakulo. They will be able to perform again, now under the new normal because we need to ensure their safety,” he added.
However, despite the National Capital Region now under an Alert Level 1, he said that the Quiapo Church in Manila was still not implementing a 100% capacity.
The Quiapo Church on Friday announced it allowed devotees to touch the image of the Black Nazarene once again.
But the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it discouraged the kissing of altars and crucifixions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also urged churches to temporarily discontinue the practice for the time being.
Photos by Danny Pata and Norman Cruz