Sto. Niño feast in Manila orderly amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) – Despite thousands turning up over the weekend for the feast of the Infant Jesus, authorities said the situation in the nation’s capital was orderly and peaceful.

“Based on the assessment of our Manila Police District, both areas generally peaceful po ang situation the entire day,” Manila PIO chief Julius Leonen said in a phone interview.

He added that the city government appreciated efforts by the people of Tondo and Pandacan for following health protocols.

Prior to the event, authorities had announced the cancellation of traditional activities amid the threat of the pandemic. The city government cancelled the street parades, motorcades, physical blessing of the images with holy water, and, in the case of Tondo, baptism of newborn children.

“Nakita ninyo, nasaksihan ninyo ngayon kung paano sumunod ang mga tao at naging conscious na dapat sundin nila yung mga safety protocols na dapat gawin ngayon,” said JR Susi, spokesperson for the Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish, during an ambush interview.

[Translation: You saw and witnessed how people followed and became conscious of safety protocols which should be done nowadays.]

Since Saturday, markers have been placed outside the Tondo church perimeter to allow devotees and the faithful to attend mass, as the parish only allows up to 300 people to attend eucharistic celebrations. Masses were also streamed live on social media.

No masses were cancelled the entire day – which should have been the case if people were unruly or did not follow physical distancing.

The number of masses this year has also been reduced to 11 from the traditional 33 to allow for disinfection protocols.

A similar setup was also done in Pandacan, with masses reduced from 15 to 9. Since the parish church was gutted by fire last year, masses were held inside the church compound, and only 150 people were allowed to attend.

Leonen also said no untoward incidents were reported as of press time, but cited reports from the Manila Police District of 66 individuals apprehended for violating a liquor ban in the Tondo and Pandacan areas as of 4:37 p.m.