Quiapo Church on Wednesday called on the government to increase its maximum capacity to 50% in order to make room for Black Nazarene devotees on Saturday.
Under general community quarantine, the maximum capacity for churches is only 30%.
MORE ON THE FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE:
"Sana po ma-consider lang na mapayagan kahit 50% para mas marami ang ma-accommodate sa loob ng simbahan at tinititiyak naman namin na mayroong social distancing sa loob," Parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(I hope thay can consider to allow even just 50% so we can accommodate more people inside the church and we guarantee there will be social distancing inside.)
The Feast of the Black Nazarene draws in millions each year, with devotees practicing traditions such as the pahalik and traslacion. For the first time ever, the procession was cancelled to prevent crowding and a potential spike in COVID cases.
The pahalik was also modified this year.
"Imbes na pahalik merong pagpupugay na tinatawag. Idinungaw natin 'yung imahe ng Nazareno na siyang ginagamit sa prusisyon at ang mga tao po 24/7 pwedeng sumaglit dito sa simbahan, iwagayway nila ang kanilang panyo bilang pagpupugay sa Poong Nazareno," Badong said.
(Instead of pahalik, we'll have what we call paying of tribute. We put the image of the Nazarene outside so people can pay a visit 24/7 and wave their handkerchiefs as tribute to the Black Nazarene.)
Devotees may join festivities online from the safety of their own homes or join worship services in their local parishes, Badong said.
"Sa mga deboto po, ibayong pag-iingat po ang dapat nating pairalin, disiplina, magmalasakit po tayo sa bawat isa. Wag po natin pairalin ang tigas ng ulo dito sa araw na ito," he said.
(To devotees, let's practice discipline and consideration for each other. Don't let stubbornness rule on this day.)
Badong said that this change in traditions does not break the faith of devotees, and that the celebration continues despite the absence of a procession.
Those planning to go to Quiapo Church can take small figures with them, but are barred from bringing large images of the Black Nazarene, Badong said.
"'Yung maliliit madali lang 'yun basta nabibibit. 'Yung malalaki, nakakarosa, naka-truck sana po wag natin muna ipilit. Jan. 9 lang naman po natin dinidiscourage na dalhin po 'yan," he said.