Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Philippines next week from January 15 to the 19th. The visit is expected to cause massive traffic jams in Manila, a city where traffic jams are the norm. + Add Image In preparation for the Papal visit and the gridlock on Manila streets, about 2,000 traffic controllers will be required to wear adult diapers as announced by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair, Francis Tolentino. The call of duty will take precedence over the call of nature. Tolentino advised those who might wait for hours to see the Pope also to be prepared by donning diapers. According to Tolentino, his order was well received by his employees.
On January 9th 800 traffic workers will test out the diapers during the procession of the Black Nazarene that lasts nearly 24 hours. The Black Nazarene is a life-sized statue of Jesus. The skin color was reportedly darkened by a fire. There are a number of rituals involved in the Black Nazarene Festival which this year celebrates its 408th anniversary:" Its rituals include the Pahalik, in which devotees line up to touch and kiss the image of Señor Nazareno at the Quirino Grandstand; and the Traslacion, in which the image is carried by bare-footed devotees back to Quiapo Church."
Many of the devotees who take part in the festival and procession believe the statue has the power to cure ailments and to bring health and fortune.
Tolentino warned those who will attend an open air mass given by the Pope at Rizal Park on the seaside January 18 that they should also come prepared: "If you attend an event that will last for 24 hours, you cannot go around looking for a (portable toilet)." Priest, nuns, seminarians, and the elderly should also consider wearing diapers Tolentino advised. When asked if he himself would wear a diaper Tolentino said: "I will try, but in my case, I have less hydration."
The devotees of the Nazarene wear maroon and yellow, the colors of the icon's garb, and also walk barefoot as a sign of penance and emulating the walk of Jesus on the way to Golgotha. In the 2013 procession there were an estimated 500,000 who took part. Traffic is often rerouted during the procession. In 2014 security and traffic control by the local authorities was supplemented by contingents of the Philippine National Police and even the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Church and local authorities see the Festival as a good practice run to prepare for the Papal visit later. Johnny Yu, chief of disaster management for Manila said:" "During the festivities, we will be able to test all our capabilities and security plans. This is a good preparation for Pope Francis’ visit. We can evaluate and improve our lapses.” "