No “Traslacion” during Feast of Black Nazarene in CDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 07 January) – For the second straight year, the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9 will be sober due to a spike in local COVID-19 cases.

Church officials canceled the “Traslacion” or procession of the image of the Black Nazarene, previously a yearly ritual that started at the Nazareno parish church and ended at the Cagayan de Oro Metropolitan Cathedral.

Monsignor Perseus Cabunoc, parish priest of the Nazareno church said the religious activity will start instead at 3am on Sunday.

Cabunoc said the image of the Black Nazarene will be brought out of the Nazareno church for a motorcade around the city.

Devotees cheer as the replica or “callejeron” of the famous Black Nazarene is brought out of the Nazareno parish church on Friday, Jan. 8, 2020. MindaNews file photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan will also break tradition by saying the Mass at the Nazareno church instead of at the cathedral.

In previous years, thousands of devotees would fill the streets of Cagayan de Oro during the “Traslacion” or procession of the Black Nazarene until the COVID-19 pandemic started two years ago.

It is the only one of its kind in Mindanao and a much tamer version of that of Quiapo in Manila. Devotees who cannot afford the cost of traveling to Manila would instead flock here.

The procession on Sunday morning will mark the third time that the life-sized replica or the “Callejeron” of the Black Nazarene is brought out of the Nazareno church.

Last year, the religious icon was placed on the back of a truck and paraded around the city during its feast day. On Good Friday, the image was again paraded for those who got sick of the coronavirus.

Nick Jabagat, head of the Cagayan de Oro Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said they would put up steel barriers around the church to prevent crowds from touching the image.

“Touching or wiping the image with handkerchiefs would be prohibited,” Jabagat said.

He said they would ensure only 20 vehicles will join the motorcade on Sunday morning.

He said the Nazareno church would only hold 50 percent of its capacity to ensure social distancing.

He, however, said they would not require devotees to show their vaccination cards or QR codes upon entering the church.

The slight uptick in COVID-19 cases was reported in Cagayan de Oro prompting officials to strictly implement health protocols. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)