Attracting millions of devotees year after year, last year’s traslacion lasted roughly over 22 hours, the longest in the procession’s history.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has declared the suspension of classes in all levels in Manila in anticipation of the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene this Thursday, January 9, 2014.
Estrada said in his Executive Order No. 14 that this was “recommended for public order and safety”.
De La Salle University has released its statement on the suspension: “Pursuant to City of Manila Executive Order No. 41, classes at DLSU’s Manila campus will be suspended on January 9 for the pilgrimage of the Black Nazarene.”
Organizers are expecting as many as twelve million people to participate in the activities. Security is being heightened in preparation for the event, with the Manila Police District, the National Capital Regional Police Office and the Metro Manila Development Authority deploying around 3,211 military officers and 382 traffic enforcers respectively.
In the previous year’s celebration, an estimated nine million devotees, many of them barefoot, flocked to the capital to join in the procession which lasted roughly 18 hours.
While the image, blackened from the fire during its voyage from Mexico to Manila, is famed for its history of having healed thousands of devotees, many injuries are reported each year during the procession proper, mostly due to heat and the robustness of the crowd. Last year, first aid was administered to over 1,400 pilgrims by the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). Over 800 devotees were treated for minor injuries, while 35 were treated for major injuries. Reports from the previous year also tell that several patients needed to be transferred to hospitals, including a woman who went into labor and an 11-year-old boy who suffered lacerations on his eye.
Heavy traffic is to be expected throughout Manila on Thursday, as the image of the Black Nazarene passes through key areas including parts of Taft Avenue and Quezon Boulevard.