Despite the COVID surge-driven cancellation of the Traslacion associated with the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Sunday, January 9, a handful of devotees attempted to go to Quiapo Church nonetheless.
Police said they had anticipated that a few insistent faithful would turn up – they were turned away immediately, anyway.
GMA-7 reported that others, finding the road to Quiapo Church closed, even tried going to Santa Cruz Church.
All these happened despite an earlier information drive by the police and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, telling the people to practice their devotion online instead through streamed masses, because of the surge in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases in recent days. On Sunday, the country registered an all-time high of 28,707 new cases.
It is unclear whether the information drive was not effective enough, or whether those who tried to physically go to Church believed that their devotion would shield them from the very real threat of contracting the virus, especially its more transmissible form.
Meanwhile, in his message, President Rodrigo Duterte said: “Faith is the conviction of things that we hope for, even if unseen.”
“Although we may not be able to take part in the usual Traslacion activities that have marked the celebration for centuries, let us keep on demonstrating our faith by praying for our country’s recovery and for humanity’s complete healing, especially from the ill effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
We are guided by our faith, of course, but we know all too well that many other things should accompany prayers for healing and recovery.
For instance, now that the virus appears to be so widespread even among those who swear they practice health protocol religiously, it is so easy to be driven by fear and speculation. We should know that only through relying on science and facts can we allay our fears and meet risks head-on.
We also have a responsibility not only to our immediate families but to our neighbors and community. We should acknowledge that all of our actions have consequences, so we should be careful in all that we do, and we don’t do.
Finally now that elections are fast approaching, we will be reminded once again that good leaders are those who are able to show up, think strategically and yet roll their sleeves up and work at the grassroots to know the nation’s problems intimately are our best hope and option. We cannot control a pandemic, in the same way that we cannot control disasters or other external factors. But we can plan and we can plot ways to get through the worst of times with some forethought, practical sense, decency, and genuine compassion.
We have not faith, but certainty, that these will increase the likelihood of a faster recovery from the pandemic, to smaller damage, fewer deaths, and in the longer term, genuine development that has eluded us for so long.