The Gist


Even with the threat of Covid-19, thousands of Black Nazarene devotees gathered in Quiapo to join the annual ‘Translacion’. Experts fear that this may account for the spike in the number of infections. For people on social media, the Manila LGU should be held accountable.

/ 12 January 2021

“Important announcement for all Manilenyos. The Manila LGU and the Quiapo Church have decided that the grand procession of the Black Nazarene for the Traslacion in January will no longer push through. Let us avoid during this time these processions and parades because there is still the Covid-19 pandemic,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno announced on October 23, few months before the Translacion 2021. 

But even after the cancellation of the annual event, thousands of Catholic pilgrims were still seen in the busy streets of Quiapo, Manila last Saturday. In an interview, Manila Police District chief PGen reported that more or less 400,000 people gathered to join this year’s Translacion.

Because of this, experts feared that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country could swell after the event. 

In a Tweet on Saturday, Dr. Tony Leachon, former President of the Philippine College of Physicians, said that he is “afraid” that a surge will lead to a stricter quarantine measure.

“I’m sorry. We know that social distancing violations will lead to increased number of cases. Our faith is not proven by physical presence only,” he said.

“God will not look over for our attendance on this once a year event but for scars of sacrifice & love of humanity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Infectious Diseases Physician, Molecular Biologist Dr. Edsel Salvana called Translacion 2021 a “superspreader event.”

“We’re really going to need a miracle to stop a superspreader event in Quiapo right now. Please don’t go. Aren’t we supposed to watch out for each other? Putting others at risk is about as un-Christian as it gets. Let’s keep each other safe. Translacion, not transmission,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH), for its part, appealed to devotees to minimize their interactions with other people and conduct self-monitoring for any symptoms.

For people on social media, church authorities and the local government must be held accountable instead of blaming Translacion goers alone. 

“All activities where the public can potentially physically participate should have been cancelled by the church leadership and the Manila LGU [local government unit]. Manila LGU could’ve then cordoned off strategic areas far from the church to disincentivize devotees from coming,” Professor of Community Medicine Paolo Medina said. 

“I pray that this does not become a super spreader event as feared, but if it does, the Catholic Church & Manila LGU leaderships cannot hide behind their accountability to the Filipino people. Here, the powerful conveniently forget that power & influence cut both ways,” he added.

“Ang panawagan matagal na ay i-cancel. Pinayagan. Of course dadagsa ang mga tao. T*nga lang ang sisisi sa mga deboto. Pinayagan sila eh, pupunta talaga ‘yan. Ang pabaya ay ang simbahan, ang gobyerno ng Maynila at ultimong bugok at puno’t at dulo nitong lahat, ang rehimen ni Duterte,”one netizen said. 

[The call is to cancel. Of course, people will flock to Quiapo because they were allowed to do so. The church, the local government of Manila, and the Duterte administration were reckless]

For a lot of people, it is easy to blame Translacion 2021  devotees for the possible surge in the number of Covid-19 cases. But we must not forget who we should really call out. 

Since January 2020, the national government has provided a very poor response against the virus. It failed to put up travel bans, reason for Covid-positive patients to get in and out of the country without a hitch.

The quarantine protocols were also inconsistent and anti-poor. Public transportation was immediately taken off of the streets without taking into consideration the welfare of the Filipino commuters. 

The Filipinos were also forced to stay inside their houses for a very long time, only to be allowed to roam around malls and other public spaces later on.

In the end, the Filipino people must make a collective effort in calling out the people in power.