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Sinulog kicks off tomorrow

Jessa Agua (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Sinulog activities formally open tomorrow, January 8, with a novena mass.

Opening the religious celebration leading to the feast day of the Holy Child will be the Walk with Jesus (penitential walk) from the Fuente Osmeña Circle to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino de Cebu at 4:30 a.m. on January 8.

Church officials urged devotees to bring their own rosaries, candles and images of the Holy Child.

Immediately following the procession is the Holy Mass inside the Basilica complex to be led by basilica rector Fr. Jonas Mejares.

The installation of the Hermano and Hermana Mayor will likewise be done during the Mass. Chosen as this year’s Hermano Mayor is Dr. Jose Enreque de las Peñas while his wife Jill, also a doctor, will be the Hermana Mayor.

Mejares explained that the two were chosen for being discreet and consistent devotees and benefactors of the Basilica and the Sr. Sto. Niño.

“First, the hermano and hermana mayors should be devotees of Sr. Sto. Niño. Second, they must possess the moral integrity. Then, admittedly, they must have the financial capability as they will lead the activities for the fiesta señor,” he said.

For someone to be a hermana or hermano, nominations via personal or third party can be done, but the final decision is made by the executive committee.

Mejares clarified that in the case of the De las Peñases, they did not volunteer as they were picked among potential candidates.

“It’s an honor. We are very blessed to be chosen. Dako kaayo nga responsibility but with God’s grace, we will do it. I just wish it were my mom because she was the original devotee who influenced us. We are a Cebuano family devotee. Daghan kaayong miracles nahitabo sa Cebu because Sto. Nino is with us. My humble prayer is for us to try our best to serve as hermano and hermana,” this year’s Hermano Mayor said.

After the mass that immediately follows the Walk with Jesus, succeeding novena masses inside the Basilica tomorrow will be celebrated by Fr. Adrian Mendoza (7 a.m.), Msgr. Renato Beltran Jr. (8:30 a.m.), Msgr. Esteban Binghay (10 a.m.), Fr. Leonardo Ellezar  (11:30 a.m.), Fr. Arnulfo Castillo (1 p.m.), Msgr. Guillermo Gorre (2:30 p.m.), Fr. Francis Kalonsa Limbeye (4 p.m.), Fr. Mhar Balili (5:30 p.m.), and Fr. Alfredo Jubac (7 p.m.).

In lieu of the final song during the last novena of the day, a short traditional Sinulog will be done for the novena masses.

Mejares assured that a grand reenactment of the first mass and the baptism of Rajah Humabon and Reyna Juana in Cebu will be witnessed as production experts and choreographers were tapped to help conceptualize it.

“It will involve renowned choreographers and we will have multiple locations. San Diego Dancers will be performing before flying to Manila for the Papal mass where they will perform the Sinulog there,” he said.

Traslacion, the journey of the Sto. Nino and Our Lady of the Guadalupe images from the Basilica to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, will be done January 16.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama will escort the images and turn over them over to Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes as they meet at the boundary of barangays Mabolo and Subangdaku.

After the vigil in Mandaue, the foot procession from St. Joseph precedes the fluvial procession from Ouano Wharf back to Cebu City.

Due to the road concreting works in V. Rama Avenue, the north route of

the January 17 solemn foot procession will be used. From the Basilica, the procession will take Osmeña Boulevard, turn right at Fuente Osmeña to General Maxilom Avenue, turn right at Imus Road before heading for M.J. Cuenco, Plaza Independencia, Osmeña Boulevard before going back to the basilica.

As added security measure, instead of metal railings, ropes will be used to cordon the aisle along the Pilgrim Center inside the basilica complex.

For the entire duration of the novena mass leading to the Fiesta Senor, the Basilica Church will be open 24 hours. However, Mejares urged devotees to understand the organizers and heed their advice if they say that the complex has reached its maximum capacity so that untoward incidents such as a stampede will be avoided.

 

‘Plan B’ ready

The Sinulog Foundation Inc. is closely coordinating with the local church officials on the possibility that Pope Francis may visit in Cebu either on January 15 or 16.

Although Cebu is not in the official itinerary of the Pope, who will visit in the Philippines from January 15 to 19, SFI chairman Ricky Ballesteros they are preparing a “Plan B”.

“Yes, we are preparing a Plan B in case moanhi gyud ang Pope sa Cebu. We are coordinating with the church officials, traffic officials and the Philippine

National Police,” said Ballesteros, during the Association of Government Information Officers Forum yesterday.

 In case the Pope will proceed to Cebu via helicopter from his visit in Tacloban, Leyte on January 16, the South Reclamation Project is being readied as a landing site.

 Earlier, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said that Pope Francis is a Pope of many surprises and it is not impossible that the later will visit Cebu.

Sinulog, touted as the grandest and the biggest festival in the Philippines, will have its grand parade on January 18 where a total of P25 million in prizes await winners.

Ballesteros said that they still expect million spectators during the grand parade.

Ballesteros added that the Sinulog celebration complements the Pope’s visit.

“The Pope is spontaneous. Sinulog symbolizes Christian faith in Cebu. The Sinulog is both a religious and cultural event. Sinulog is a celebration of faith. Who knows, moanhi ang Pope,” Ballesteros added.

Ballesteros also said this year’s Sinulog, which is now on its 35th year, will have many “firsts” such as the 1,000 performers in the grand finale prior to the grand fireworks display.

“We have lots of surprises. This year’s Sinulog is something to look forward to,” said Ballesteros.

airport ready for Sinulog

The Mactan Cebu International Airport is beefing up its security and safety measures amidst the influx of passengers here for the Sinulog celebration.

Estee Marie Plunket, head of Corporate Affairs, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., said yesterday that they are likewise putting up more information desks or customer service desks for the convenience of the passengers.

“Gidugangan namo ang information desks in strategic places sa airport para gyud matubag ang pangutana sa atong mga passengers. In fact, one can even ask where they should put their skateboards, places to go, among others,” said Plunket during the same forum yesterday.

Plunket said that they want passengers to experience comfort and convenience the moment they arrive in Cebu.

 

Crowd control

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command will be tasked to control the crowd during the fluvial and foot procession on January 17 as well as the carousel route during the feast day a CentCom official said.

CentCom spokesman Lieutenant Commander Jim Alagao, said that since last November the SFI has been coordinating with them for the Sinulog festivities.

He said 7,300 personnel will be deployed for the Sinulog which will be composed of two task units forming Joint Task Group Sinulog.

Task Unit Sto. Niño, will control the crowd during the fluvial procession and the foot procession in the afternoon while Task Unit Grand Parade will be tasked with crowd control of the carousel route.

These personnel will be composed of soldiers and Reserve Officers Training Corp cadets, their food will be provided by SFI, said Alagao. 

The Cebu Provincial Police Office will also beef up their security preparations for the Sinulog festival, although the festivities are focused on Cebu City.

Superintendent Rodolfo Albotra, Provincial Intelligence Branch, said that it has been a practice in the province that they will increase security every Sinulog.

He added that the provincial headquarters will send a directive to the police stations to intensify their presence and to conduct aggressive checkpoints in their respective areas.

“We’ll be sending directive to all station to conduct target hardening measures and to increase police visibilities in all establishments in their respective areas of responsibility and to discourage would-be criminals nga mo-strike sa ilang area,” Albotra said.

Albotra said that Cebu province serves a “buffer zone” of the city and some of criminals might pass here or establish a base here on their way to the city. —with Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, Bryner L. Diaz/BRP

BALLESTEROS BASILICA CEBU CEBU CITY MEJARES PLAN B PLUSMN POPE SINULOG
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