Nineteen million people are expected to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila next week.
The city’s top traffic cop, Superintendent Lucile Faycho, said the estimate was based on the number of attendees over the last six years.
“For the several days of celebration, we had 18 million last year. Now, we are expecting an increase of five per cent also,” she said.
The figure includes those attending novena masses at Quiapo Church and also those who will join activities at the Quirino Grandstand.
Quiapo Church Parochial Vicar, Father Douglas Badong, said they were ready for the annual celebration.
“We are 100 per cent ready,” he said. “Actually, we already started last December 31.”
No estimates have been made on the number of devotees who will join the Traslacion — the procession of the Black Nazarene from Luneta to Quiapo Church on Tuesday (January 9).
An alcohol ban will start at 6pm on January 8 and end at 6am on January 10. It will cover a 500-metre radius from the procession route, the Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church.
However, establishments catering to tourists may be exempted.
Drones and guns are also prohibited. For security reasons, cellphone coverage will be jammed within one kilometre of the procession.
The procession of the replica images is set to begin on Sunday at 2pm at Quiapo Church.
This will be followed by the start of the “Pahalik” at the Quirino Grandstand at 6am and a prayer vigil at 5pm on Monday.
The mass will take place at midnight to be followed by the morning prayers at 4am on Tuesday.
The grand procession of the Black Nazarene is scheduled to start at 5am from the Quirino Grandstand en route to the Quiapo Church.
Last year, it took 22 hours for the andas (carriage) carrying the icon to complete the route.