CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 09 January) — In previous years, thousands of devotees would fill the streets during the procession or “Traslacion” of the Black Nazarene here. This year, the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and the city government canceled the yearly ritual to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In lieu of the procession, the Archdiocese brought out the life-size replica or the “Callejeron” of the Black Nazarene from the Nazareno parish church in Barangay Lapasan and placed it on the back of a truck for a motorcade around the city on Friday night.
The city government made sure that devotees would not be around by holding the motorcade at the start of the daily curfew at 10 p.m.. The city’s curfew is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Only a few devotees dared brave the risks of infection outside the church at around 6 p.m., their candles lit, as they waited for the start of the motorcade.
Late Friday afternoon outside the Nazareno parish church, sellers of religious paraphernalia complained of poor sales. “We will be lucky if we sell 500 pesos today,” a vendor said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Feast of the Black Nazarene drew thousands of devotees from the city and other parts of Mindanao since it started in 2008.
The only one of its kind in Mindanao and a much tamer version than that of Quiapo in Manila, devotees from all over Mindanao who cannot afford the cost of traveling to Quiapo, would flock to this city instead.
The procession Friday night was the second during the pandemic when the life-size image of the Black Nazarene was brought out for a motorcade.
On Good Friday, April 10 last year, the religious icon was also taken out of the church for a procession in the city, also during the curfew.
Father Der John Faborada, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese said their parishioners have continued to cling on to their faith in the midst of this highly contagious disease.
“We see our masses are well-attended despite the limitations of social distancing and our confessionals are full,” he said.
Faborada said the archdiocese has also adapted to the situation by livestreaming their masses and other religious rites.
“We are engaged in the social networks and Facebook. We have a local radio station to send our message,” he said.
The Archdiocese, he added, also responded to the call for food assistance by Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) in the hinterland villages and by the victims of the 2011 Typhoon Sendong who were relocated in Barangay Lumbia.
Faborada also said they are training first responders who can immediately help victims of abuse and suicide cases.
“The pandemic has reared its ugly side. There is a rise in cases of wife-beating and suicide. The Archdiocese is responding to these problems,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)