MANILA -- There will be minor changes in the route of the Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene on its feast day on January 9 to ensure the safety of devotees.

According to Traslacion 2018 - Technical Working Committee head Bro. Alex Erasca, this year’s procession will now be on a counterflow at P. Burgos (westbound and southbound lanes), which will take it directly to the Jones Bridge.

"This is an enhancement for a safer route. Because we will be able to evade the Lagusnilad and Cloverleaf bridges on our way through the (Manila) City Hall to the PhilPost Office," he said in a press conference on Wednesday in Manila.

In previous processions, the route of the Traslacion passed through P. Burgos, crossing Lagusnilad Bridge in front of the Manila and Jones Bridge.

Erasca said it is safer to use the other lane, noting that it would also help in avoiding bottleneck segments of the procession.

"Because we would be able to avoid the two bridges, it may be helpful in speeding up the procession," he added.

This year’s route is as follow: from Quirino Grandstand (Independence Road) turn right to Katigbak Drive straight to P. Burgos (westbound lane) going to P. Burgos (southbound lane) thru Jones Bridge, turn right to Dasmarinas, turn right again towards Plaza Santa Cruz, turn left to Palanca St., turn left to Quezon Blvd., turn right to Arlegui St., turn right to Fraternal St., turn right to Vergara St., turn left to Duque de Alba, turn left to Castillejos St., turn left to Farnecio St., turn right to Arlegui St., turn left to Nepomuceno St., (counter-flow), turn left to Aguila St., turn right to Carcer St., turn right to Hidalgo St., thru Plaza del Carmen, turn left to Guzman St., turn right to Hidalgo St., turn left to Bautista St., (Barbosa), turn right to Globo de Oro thru under Quezon Bridge, turn right to Palanca St., then, turn right to Villalobos St., thru Plaza Miranda going to Quiapo Church.

At the same time, the organizers of the annual religious event are also introducing the 12 prayer stations in selected parts of the procession route.

"In the prayer stations, there will be simultaneous praying as the andas (carriage) approaches every station. There will also be a blessing of holy water while the andas is passing through," said Erasca.

The 12 prayer stations shall be established at the corner of Roxas Blvd and Katigbak Driveway; National Museum; pedestrian underpass at the center of Taft Avenue and Padre Burgos; pedestrian underpass at the corner of Anda Road; Plaza Lawton; Sta Cruz Church; Quezon Boulevard corner Arlegui St.; pedestrian underpass between Arlegui and P. Casa Sts.; front of Manuel L. Quezon University; San Sebastian Church; De Guzman Barangay Hall; and at the corner of Bautista St. and Globo De Oro.

For his part, Quiapo Church Rector Msgr. Hernando "Ding" Coronel said that they would be having the prayer stations to make the procession more "spiritual".

"This is not an original idea from us. Even the police have these so-called segments. So what we did here was to have prayer segments so it would be more religious and spiritual," the Catholic priest added.

Last year, it took 22 hours before the andas (carriage) carrying the miraculous icon was able to complete the route, which starts at the Quirino Grandstand. (PNA)