EL SALVADOR CITY, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 17 April) – The management of the Divine Mercy Shrine here are making final security preparations for as much as 30,000 devotees and visitors from different parts of Mindanao that are expected to arrive en masse on Good Friday.
Devotees, according to Divine Mercy Foundation coordinator Lorna Llanos, are expected to peak in number in the evening of Good Friday.
“We have seen the increase in the number of people coming, and so this year we have made several modifications in our preparations,” she said.
Llanos pointed out that they have already made final preparations and coordinated with stakeholders to enhance security measures and on how to better accommodate visitors.
She said they have coordinated with the local government, both the barangay police and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help secure the area. Medical teams will be deployed and volunteer groups, such as the Divine Heart Community, will be providing additional manpower to help maintain peace and order.
Oliver Malinao, who is working at the Divine Mercy Shrine, said that the number of people at the shrine can shift in an instant.
“We expect thousands to arrive by the afternoon of Holy Thursday to attend the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper,” he said.
A large portion of the crowd, he said, will be staying overnight for the prayer vigil until the morning of Good Friday.
“People will come and go, then new batches will arrive. Last year, we estimated the crowd to be somewhere around 30,000,” said Malinao.
Among the pilgrims who visited the shrine Wednesday afternoon was Kimberly Casino de Alban, a native of Villanueva in Misamis Oriental. Although she now works as a teacher in Marilao, Bulacan, she makes it a point to come home every Holy Week so she and her family can visit the Divine Mercy Shrine.
It was just a quick stopover for her after arriving at the airport in nearby Laguindingan town. She vowed to come back for a more solemn prayer time on Holy Thursday.
“For me this is a place of prayer and worship since it is very peaceful here and there is something about the holiness of the place that draws me back. I’m sure it is also the reason why thousands visit here every year,” she said.