The Philippines is the largest Christianized nation in Asia being transformed by its former Spanish colonizers who introduced Roman Catholicism in the nation. Each year, one major event is symbolizing the country's Christian image. This is the procession of Black Nazarene that occurs annually in the capital city of Manila, Philippines. Every January 9th, the Black Nazarene takes a round trip route from the Quiapo church, passing several selected streets and roads all over the metro.

However, safety issues are now starting to create a concern to the participants due to the risk of injuries and the loss of lives. Each year, some pilgrims are reportedly being injured due to human and environmental related factors such as stampede or scorching temperatures that affects hundreds of thousands of lives. Participants are seen to be pushing other pilgrims in order to touch the Black Nazarene, which is an important figure in the Philippine's dominant catholic residents. Children and elderly are reportedly lost during the procession, making it a perfect opportunity to syndicates to promote their human trafficking activities.
Devotees glock to the streets to wipe their towels towards the passing Black Nazarene statue
About Black Nazarene: Black Nazarene is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ that is carrying a cross. The figure is currently enshrined in Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene situated in the district of Quiapo, Manila, Philippines. The figure was created by a Mexican carver in 17th century, depicting Jesus Christ that is carrying the cross towards the site of his crucifiction. The appearance of the statue is black, which it got its name as a black nazarene that is different from other statues that are made in lighter colors or representing the person from a caucasian race.

The statue is thought to be miraculous among its followers. Since it arrived in the Philippines during the Spanish regime. The translation is believed to be responsible for healing several sick individuals and prolonging the life-expectancy of most devotees who are thankful to be followers of the Black Nazarene. To prevent being at risk from injuries, some devotees created their own life-sized replica of the Black Nazarene to establish a more peaceful and safer way of showing their pilgrimage to the statue.

10 safety advice when joining the annual Black Nazarene Procession

1. Only join if you are physically fit: As you know, joining the Black Nazarene procession is risky to your health because you will be encountering numerous stressful scenario while strengthening your Christian belief. Your body will be experiencing all kinds of stressors that can be caused by environmental and human related causes. These include heat, weather, injuries sustained by pushing or being walked by a mob of crowd along the streets.
Interior of Minor Basilica in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines

2. Be mentally and emotionally fit: Aside from being physically is to have your mind to be on a stable condition when you will be joining other pilgrims to show your devotion with the Black Nazarene. You are aware that being a pilgrim needs sacrifices. Therefore, you need to know what would be your goal and aspiration before participating such events. Consequences should be acknowledged as you will be prepared to be experiencing mental and emotional challenges as you continue to participate with the procession.

3. Avoid bringing sharp objects: Knieves, ice peak, selfie sticks, and anything sharp is potentially dangerous because it increases any chance of hurting other individuals including yourself. Keep away any weapons that might harm other individuals or groups while you are going to join with the procession to prevent any legal and medical consequences that may happen beyond your control during the religious event.
Exterior of Minor Basilica of Black Nazarene in Quiapo

4. Never wear any jewelry: You are aware that you are going to a place where there are 14 million devotees to offer their faith and commemorate their devotion to the Black Nazarene. Expect that any object that can catch attention such as wearing jewelries attracts thieve's attention. The sad reality of joining a crowd is that you are risking yourself under the hands of the theives wherein you might be falling prey with their illegal acts if you wear or forget to remove any jewelry from your body.

5. Never bring your gadgets: Aside from jewelries, electronic gadgets are favorable items that can generate attention to the theives. These are portable devices that can be easily snatched when they see unsuspecting prey who are currently making selfies or surfing the internet while the procession in ongoing. It is always important that safety should be taken seriously before you might lose your safety or even with your life in the future.

6. You should not bring your children during the procession: Children are always sensitive to our environment. They are also vulnerable to health threats because their immune system are not still mature enough to become immune with the crowd of millions of people who will gather and spend their time to show their devotion to the Black Nazarene. Youngsters can be easily get lost because they are easily attracted to any shiny, shimery, or colorful items that might break their bond with their family member and might be easily taken away by human traffickers.

7. If you are sick, it is better not to join the procession: Isolating yourself is the best thing that you can do to prevent disease transmission. This applies especially if you are currently suffering from flu, stomach problems, or fever because you are currently experiencing an active stage of infection, which has the highest chance to infect other individuals. If you cough, sneeze, or even talk, you will be spreading the disease to other people.

8. Wear face mask during the procession: If you think that you are healthy enough to join the procession, think again. There are still other devotees who are sick and they are not that aware enough that they are spreading the disease. You will expect individuals who are going to sneeze in front of you, cough at you, and see their mouths that are showering with contaminated saliva as they shout or just talk in front of you.

9. Do not stay longer after you have already reached the statue: When your handkerchief, towels, or any clothing have already touched the Black Nazarene, it is time for you to go home or to stay away from the crowd. Being a devotee would not mean that you should allocate whole of your time during the procession. An ample time is already enough to show your devotion and faith by participating with the procession even with a short period of time.

10. Always hydrate and fuel  yourself during the procession: Already fill yourself with water before going through a sea of crowd. Drink as many water as you can in order to prevent your body from dehydration that might cause your body to experience health consequences such as generalized fatigue, muscle strain, or cardiovascular shock. Eat high protein and high fiber rich foods so that you will have enough energy to sustain your strengths along with millions of crowd.

11. Be always informed by mass media: If you want to ensure that your safety is effectively managed by the authorities by knowing it from the mass media, then it is alright to join the procession. However, if you hear that there are terror threats that have been reported during the procession, it is better not to join the along with millions of crowd. Media reports are always reliable to better inform the public of any relevant current events that is happening to our society.

*Always remember that your health and safety should be prioritized before sacrificing your time, effort, and money.

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