Preparations have begun for Traslacion 2018 (or the annual Black Nazarene procession) as early as Thursday. The authorities are projecting a 5% increase in attendees on January 9 from last year's 18 million.
Each year, the devotion to the miraculous image just grows and grows, with the proceedings becoming harder and harder to contain. As such, security officials have been devising different schemes to control the massive crowd.
If you are planning to take part in this religious event (or don't want the inconvenience caused by it), you may want to keep these things in mind:
Classes and most work in Manila are suspended on the day of the traslacion, while guns and possibly liquor (within a five-kilometer radius) will be prohibited from January 8 to 10, according to Manila Police District (MPD) Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel. Also, expect a signal jam around the area.
Route, road closures, traffic rerouting
With the slightly altered route for this year's parade, the MPD released the list of closed roads, which "will be opened immediately once the tail end of the procession passes," and alternate thoroughfares.
-Katigbak Drive and South Drive (one lane accessible to Manila Hotel and H20 Hotel)
-Stretch of McArthur, Jones, and Quezon Bridges
-Taft Avenue from Ayala to the three bridges aforementioned
-Both lanes of Quezon Boulevard (from A. Mendoza/Fugoso St. to Quezon Bridge)
-Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak Drive to TM Kalaw Street
Around 7,000 uniformed personnel will be reportedly be on site to maintain order and guarantee the security of devotees, aside from the deployment of drones and snipers for monitoring.
"There is no actual, direct or imminent constituting prominent threat concerning the Traslacion... Continuous ang monitoring ng intelligence agencies... Pero hinihikayat namin ang lahat, if you see something say something," Coronel was quoted by INQUIRER.net.
Prayer stations, calendar of activities
Another new twist to the religious occasion will be the prayer stations, which are to be situated in the following spots where the traslacion passes.
-Pedestrian underpass in P. Burgos cor. Victoria (in front of Manila City Hall)
-Pedestrian underpass in Liwasang Bonifacio
-Sta. Cruz Church
-Arlegui cor. Quezon Boulevard
-Pedestrian overpass in Arlegui cor. P. Casal
-Canopy of Manuel L. Quezon University
-San Sebastian Church
-Barangay hall in Guzman St.
-Globo de Oro
The Quiapo Church-Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene also has a schedule of side events in connection with the centuries-old devotion.