Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Traslacion 2017: Post Event Report on the Philippines' Biggest Religious Event

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Philippines continue to hold the Traslacion eventhough there are so many reasons why it sends the wrong lessons to our people, especially the youth. The January 9 procession reenacts the image's TraslaciĆ³n (literally, "transfer") in 1787, or solemn relocation to the Minor Basilica from its original shrine in what is now Rizal Park.

A Spaniards' galleon was partly burned wherein the more than life size (sculpture) image of Jesus Christ of Nazarene was on board. Miraculously, the sculpture suffered lesser damage but has changed its original color into black. That was the original story about the "Black Nazarene."

CBCP Public Affairs Executive Secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano says the statue of the Black Nazarene was brough to the Philippines in the 17th century, but the devotion to statue only started in the 1950s. He says some of the sacrifices devotees go through during the Traslacion are part of the "purification process" they identify with on a personal level.

Less in number but not in fervor. There was a substantial drop in the number of devotees for this year's Traslacion. Still, tens of thousands make a vow – or panata – to take part in the most massive display of Catholic faith in the Philippines. This tradition is distinctly Filipino and is not part of the basic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. The people's unwavering devotion to the Black Nazarene is a tedious and lengthy task with the Traslacion covering a 6.9-kilometer route starting from the Quirino Grandstand and ending at the Quiapo Church.

Devotees jostle for a chance to get near the Black Nazarene. The cross-bearing statue is believed to have healing powers, in the hope that the touching of towels would bless them and heal their illnesses. Helping pull the ropes of the carriage also has some sort of significance as the sacrifice is expected to bear bountiful rewards.

It was reported to have taken a total of 22 hours, with over 1,200 injuries to the devotees who joined the procession. The Department of Health placed all hospitals along the route of the Traslacion, or the procession of the Black Nazarene, on Code White Alert to ensure they are prepared for any untoward incident during the procession. The Philippine Red Cross deployed around 400 volunteers at different areas around the vicinity of the Traslacion procession.

Black Nazarene devotees join the annual Traslacion despite threats of terrorism. However, the PNP sees no imminent threat to the Traslacion. PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa says any threat to the feast was only "imagined." “Don’t be afraid. God is with us. Hindi tayo pababayaan (We won’t be forsaken)” says Dela Rosa.

At the Quirino Grandstand, thousands spent the night there where they attended a vigil and a mass led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. The early hours of the morning had a few celebrities performing to entertain the crowd.

Close to 3,000 cops and more than 400 soldiers have been deployed to secure the event. Mobile network services were reported to have been shut down and signal jammers were installed to avoid remote detonation of bombs, though an unattended bag also caused a bomb scare among some devotees.

Flying of drones were also strictly prohibited in the area.

The National Capital Region Police Office said #Nazareno2017 was “generally peaceful” and it was also said that former drug users who surrendered under PNP's #OplanTokhang also joined the Black Nazarene procession.

Devotion is extended and continued by Filipino youths. Despite the request to avoid bringing children for their safety, there were so many parents who brought their children to the procession. For the Nazarene devotees, faith is stronger than fear and the Traslacion not just a frenzy.

To clean up after the event, the Department of Public Services deployed 13 dump trucks to haul waste along the route of the Traslacion. Streetsweepers from the MMDA and the Manila City Hall clear the vicinity of the Quirino Grandstand of trash which devotees have left behind.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte highlighted the fight against injustice, corruption and abuse of power in his message for this year’s Traslacion of the Black Nazarene. However, the message of the church this year is for the killings to stop. According to organizers, this year's feast was centered specifically on the passage from Collosians 3:14, which reads "Pag-ibig ang buklod ng ganap na pagkakaisa."

Here is President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's Traslacion Message:
"Good fortunes are usually borne out of hard work and perseverance. Prayers are likely answered because we do not give up or get tired from asking God for the fulfillment of our heart's desires. Such is the phenomenal expression of faith of the millions of devotees in the form of gratitude, petition, and sacrifice shown in the image of the Black Nazarene every feast day on the 9th of January every year. 
We are neither exhausted by praying constantly nor do we ever falter in expressing our religious fervor. Despite the passage of time, we relentlessly fight against injustice and lies; abuse of power; and the corruption that eats up the soul. 
My administration has deep empathy for the core of faith that pushes the masses of Filipinos to resort to sacrifice every single day, while still finding a piece of themselves to honor God—whose image we recognize in the man of Nazarene, who carried his cross to redeem the rest of humankind. In His tears, we see our sorrow; and in His agony, we find our solace and strength to triumph against the most insurmountable odds. 
Through our fervent prayers for the country, let us join the Catholic faithful in the passionate observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene."

Today, in the age of viral videos and memes, the devotion is stronger than ever, thanks to the Church's willingness to embrace new ways to spread the Word. Quiapo Church priests and organizers launched the e-Traslacion service to allow devotees in far-flung areas to experience the procession.

However, the actual Traslacion event could have been a lot more faster, and orderly, if the organizers would only implement sensible ways for the transfer.

The Traslacion should be strictly implemented as a procession with a clear and unblocked path from point A to point B. Both devotees and non-devotees should not be allowed to go near or climb up the carriage. They can just throw their towels to the organizers on board the carriage who would do their usual tasks of throwing back the towels to the owners.

They should used a motorized carriage or vehicle to carry the image instead of having devotees manually pull it.

There is no logic in crowding the streets to create further hardship. Believing the sacrifice would be returned with a favor by the Black Nazarene is crazy since we could have avoided it in the first place. More people should believe that God only helps those who help themselves. God will not help those who intentionally make their lives a living hell, and worst is to cost your life, and expecting something in return for the effort.

The death of Renato Guryon - devotee dies in the middle of a previous Traslacion procession
Why is the church letting this procession be a painstaking task? They know that the people will not feel relieved if they would not experience a personally life-changing sacrifice. The danger of getting into an accident forms part of the thrill that will make the sacrifice worthy of a reward from God.

The church remains in control if they continue to manipulate the faith of the people.

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