THE stage is set for the annual "Pahalik" of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Black Nazarene) as the religious image arrived at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park in Manila before midnight of Monday.

The Manila Police District (MPD) confirmed that the Black Nazarene's image was secretly transported and brought to the grandstand by a military truck around 10 p.m. of January 6 to prevent people from flocking the image that may cause further damage since it isn't place yet on its carriage.

As early as 6 a.m., people from all walks of life started to fall in line at the left portion of the grandstand to have an opportunity to touch, kiss or wipe the Black Nazarene's miraculous image and cross.

The Pahalik is supposed to take place around noon time of January 8 (Wednesday) followed by an overnight vigil before solemn mass and grand procession, also known as traslacion, on Thursday but there is no word yet from the organizers why they placed the image in the grandstand as early as Tuesday.

Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo, head of the MPD's district community relations, said that they are also coordinating with other force multipliers, such as, from barangay volunteers and other non-government organizations led by Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to maintain order during the Pahalik.

Meanwhile, environmental watchdog Eco Waste Coalition appealed to the devotees to avoid littering during the traslacion on Thursday.

Tin Vergara, the group's spokesperson, asked the faithful to heed the call for humility, to ensure that the route of procession and Quiapo district itself will not again be shrouded in garbage.

She noted that based on the previous data from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), last year's event, which drew a mammoth crowd of around nine million people, generated 32 truckloads of trash, or around 192-tons of assorted garbage.

Few days before the grand procession, the environmental advocacy group organized an environmental parade themed "Huwag Tayong Mayabang" around the vicinity of Quiapo Church in Plaza Miranda and at the Quirino Grandstand.

The theme was reportedly inspired by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who disseminated the reminder to the devotees during his homily in the same event last year.

"Hindi mo basurahan ang buong siyudad ng Manila. Magpakumbaba, huwag tayong mayabang," Tagle said. (Sunnex)