By Joe Zaldarriaga

Gearing up for 2024

December 26, 2023, 10:08 am

With just a few days left in 2023, many have started drawing up their New Year’s resolutions while preparing for the remainder of the holiday season.

It is usually during this season that time pauses for many industries to give way to family gatherings and celebrations. But while many are in a festive mood, it is worth noting that there are personnel from several industries—particularly essential ones—who forego the parties to ensure that all of us have a bright and merry holiday celebration.

These include food and beverage, retail, and utilities—whose services are often overlooked especially during holidays.

But while many preparations are centered on the holiday season, this early on, in Manila City, preparations are already on full steam for the much-awaited comeback of the Black Nazarene procession on Jan. 9, 2024.

Meralco has taken part in the preparations too as it eagerly responded to the request of the Manila City local government unit to conduct wire-clearing operations near Quiapo, particularly along the route of the Black Nazarene procession.

Meralco immediately coordinated with the Manila City government, including various telecommunications and cable companies for its Anti-Dangling and Unauthorized Wire Attachment Operation in Quiapo to help ensure the safety of devotees joining the mammoth procession early next year.

After all, it will be the first time since 2020—the year the Covid-19 pandemic hit—that the image of the Black Nazarene will be brought out for the traditional Traslacion. It can be recalled that during the pandemic, devotees instead conducted a “walk of faith” sans the image of the Black Nazarene.

The annual Traslacion usually draws crowds in the millions in pre-pandemic times so preparations must be comprehensive to ensure public safety.

During the recent wire clearing operation or Operation Urban Blight, Meralco crews and engineers removed idle wires and checked the integrity of poles along the route of the 2024 Traslacion to ensure public safety. Meralco had previously said that foreign attachments have been identified as one of the most common causes of pole problems which is why it has been appealing to cable and telco companies to coordinate with the distribution utility and follow the process for wire attachment applications.

With huge crowds expected to join the Black Nazarene procession, preparations and contingencies are not limited to the actual route of the Traslacion but also extend well beyond the peripheries.

Last week, authorities conducted a walkthrough of the route for the procession to identify additional contingencies. This was joined by Church officials, police, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and other government representatives.

The Philippine National Police had said that it would conduct clearing operations to free up narrow roads along the procession route and would deploy some 7,000 cops on Jan. 9. Communication exercises with Church officials will also be conducted as part of the stricter security protocol. Church officials have also enjoined the faithful to join in the preparations for the Black Nazarene procession.

While efforts to ensure a smooth and safe procession of the Black Nazarene are worth lauding, it is also timely to remind that promoting public safety should be a year-round campaign that requires cooperation between the government and the private sector.

With over two weeks to go before the Black Nazarene procession, remaining preparations should be a joint effort between the Church, government, private sector, and the faithful.

And as we prepare to ring in the new year, may we use the last few days of 2023 to reflect on the triumphs and lessons of the year that has passed.

Here’s to hoping for a prosperous and meaningful 2024 for all.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.