Jan. 9 declared holiday in Manila

Jan. 9 declared holiday in Manila

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Thursday declared Jan. 9 as a special non-working day in the capital Manila in observance of an annual Catholic procession of a centuries-old black statue of Jesus Christ popularly known as the Black Nazarene.

In his proclamation, Mr. Marcos said residents of Manila should be given “full opportunity to participate” in one of Asia’s largest religious festivals, which will be held physically for the first time in three years since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manila Mayor Maria Sheilah Honrado “Honey” Lacuna–Pangan said the city expects at least two million people to participate in the Black Nazarene feast. Quiapo church officials expect more.

The Department of Health said its hospitals will be placed under code white alert starting Saturday, Jan. 6, in preparation for the return of the annual dawn-to-midnight procession called the Traslacion. 

The police force will 15,200 personnel to secure the procession of a replica of the original Black Nazarene statue, which was made by an unnamed Mexican sculptor and was allegedly brought to Manila through the Acapulco galleon trade in 1606.

Eight health emergency teams equipped with ambulances would be deployed along the Black Nazarene’s route, the DoH said in a statement.

Also on Thursday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Manila City government conducted joint clearing operations to ensure an unhampered Traslacion.

“Clearing operations are part of the government’s preparations so that routes are passable and obstruction-free for the safety and security of the devotees that would participate in the procession,” MMDA chairman Romando S. Artes said in a press release.

“Illegally parked vehicles, electric tricycles, and other obstructions have been removed along the route of the Traslacion,” MMDA said, addings that 58 vehicles were apprehended while 22 were towed for illegal parking during the clearing operations.

Mr. Artes said the agency will provide traffic and emergency assistance before, during, and after the activities for the feast of the Black Nazarene, including an activity that starts on Jan. 6 where devotees kiss the Black Nazarene image at the Quirino Grandstand.

“A total of 850 personnel will be deployed to assist in traffic management, public safety, maintenance of peace and order, emergency response operations, and clearing operations,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza