Manila to make Black Nazarene feast into int'l pilgrimage festival

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


IN ORDER to attract more tourists toward the nation's capital, the City Government of Manila plans to transform the annual feast of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Black Nazarene) every January 9 into an international pilgrimage event starting next year.

Liz Villaseñor, chief of the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau, said that starting 2015, they will refer to the religious celebration as the International Pilgrimage of the Black Nazarene.

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene's (Quiapo Church) rector Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio said Villaseñor already informed him about the City Government's grand plan for the yearly event that draws millions of devotees from here and abroad.

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In 2013 alone, church authorities said the feast drew at least nine million devotees. The number of visitors has been growing between 20 to 25 percent annually since 2006, said Ignacio.

"As you can see, the celebration is not limited in one city only so we are making it a point to make this an international event. Besides, this (celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene) has long been accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as spiritual tourism," Villaseñor said.

Villaseñor, a former vice-mayor of San Jose, Romblon herself assured that they would be giving better attention to the foreigners who would be visiting the country at this time.

She also said that they have seen a number of foreigners joining the procession, locally known as traslacion, since 2008.

Ignacio said he likened the plan of the City Government to the Hajj, which is the yearly pilgrimage of the Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, drawing about two million people annually.

"Just like the Mecca which is an international pilgrimage site for the Muslims, in our event, Catholic foreigners and balikbayans will be invited to come and to also participate," Ignacio said.

"When we say that it is a pilgrimage, it is a religious event," the basilica's rector added.

He clarified that the grand plan was an initiative of the local government of Manila and not the Quiapo Church management and it would be the City Government that will invite people to visit the city and watch or join in the procession.

"Even if we do not send out any invitations the foreigners, they still come. My office is still being flooded by requests from families from different countries who are coming to the country and they are seeking guidance as to how to get to Quiapo Church and which hotel they should stay," Ignacio further said. (Sunnex)

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