IEC delegates linger; police provide security
(The Freeman) - February 2, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu was over two days ago, but authorities are still providing the same tight security to foreign delegates who are still in the region.

Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, Police Regional Office-7 director, said many foreign delegates are still around the province of Cebu and even in nearby islands enjoying the sceneries.

“The operation of Task Group-Cebu has not been terminated as of this time because we will not terminate until the last delegate has left,” he said.

Gaerlan said that though they have lowered their alert level already, they still made sure security is in place for these foreign delegates.

He said they have also coordinated with the different city and provincial directors in Central Visayas to supervise the security officers.

He said they do not know when these delegates are planning to go back to their respective countries, but their security escorts are monitoring them.

“We process their departure at the airports. So we assist them,” Gaerlan said.

He said some of the spots the foreign IEC delegates visited were the Marian church in Lindogon Simala, Sibonga, Cebu; Oslob, Cebu, where they went  whale shark watching; and Panglao Island in Bohol.

 Meanwhile, aside from prayers and benevolent patrons, social media played a key role in the successful hosting of the IEC last January 24 to 31.

 For instance, the grand choir, composed of 2,607 singers from 75 different parishes and school choirs in Cebu, during the IEC Statio Orbis last Sunday afternoon was formed through the power of social media.

The choir, which was accompanied by the 50-member UST Symphony Orchestra, was under the baton of Msgr. Rudy Villanueva with Fr Benedicto Tao, Fr John Burgos, Dennis Gregory Sugar, and Jay-arr Librando.

Librando, composer of the IEC official hymn “Christ in Us, Our Hope of Glory,” said in a Facebook post Monday that they did not expect to even reach the targeted 2,500 choir members.

“At first, we thought it is very ambitious to reach 2500. The only communication we had was through the Facebook group (IEC 2016 GRAND CHOIR). We did not send invitation letters. It was by word of mouth that the invitation to serve was communicated to all the gifted singers of the archdiocese. The invite was welcomed and well responded,” he said.

“I never knew we would reach this large. I just learned we were a hundred more than we ambitiously expected! To each and everyone of you, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! We were amazing!” he added.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, Archdiocese of Cebu spokesperson, said he felt elated that they exceeded the targeted number of choir members, who practiced for about a year.

He likewise credited social media as to why the number of IEC delegates reached 15,000.

 “We had (many) representatives from abroad and even local delegates because of the online convenience in booking a flight and registration and easier travel,” he said.

 “We really credit the number of attendees to social media. It had a key role in our congress,” he added.

Photos, videos and information about IEC were also widely spread online. 

“This is like a spillover of the papal visit last year, so they decided that given what took place last January 2015 (when the Pope was here) we would come up with some sort of a similar template, and we would want to bring the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to the whole world,” said Bishop Mylo Vergara, chairman of the Communications Team of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“In fact, there have been reactions from different parts of the globe…very grateful for (us) sharing bits and pieces of the Congress to them,” he told Vatican Radio.

The IEC multimedia page was handled by the Society of St. Paul the help of young volunteers from different schools in Cebu. – (FREEMAN)

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