Cebu News

Keeping the faith

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Adelyn A. Landiza - The Freeman
Keeping the faith
An estimated 1.2 million devotees join the Solemn Foot Procession of the Venerable Image of Sr. Sto. Niño yesterday afternoon.
Aldo Banaynal

CEBU, Philippines — The scorching heat of the sun did not stop the hundreds of thousands of devotees from showing their devotion to the Holy Child yesterday, as authorities estimated that around 1.2 million joined the Solemn Foot Procession of the Venerable Image of Sr. Sto. Niño.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter, Cebu City Police Office deputy director for operations, said that while crowd reached around 1.2 million devotees, the event was uneventful.

She said received no reports of untoward incidents like stealing and robbery during the event.

The same was also true for another crowd-drawer Sinulog event, the Fluvial Procession held a few hours earlier, which was likewise described as “generally peaceful.”

The Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) said roughly 200,000 to 250,000 devotees and spectators attended the Fluvial Procession.

The Philippine Coast Guard-7 (PCG)-7 said that while 247 vessels registered for the procession, an estimated 350 to 400 registered and unregistered vessels joined.

The PCG deployed 69 floating vessels as marshals this year, compared to last year’s 33 vessels.

Commander Mark Larsen Mariano, PCG-Cebu chief, said that this year’s fluvial parade was orderly and peaceful. Although he admitted that the event started awkwardly due to the positioning of the vessels, it went smoothly while the flotilla was already approaching Mandani Bay.

“The activity went orderly and successful as we brought it near the devotees on the piers and wharfs. The collaboration between the maritime LEAs under Sub Task Group Maritime Security headed by the PCG produced a great result in the performance of their mandates and accomplishment of their mission,” he said.

In Mandani Bay, thousands of devotees flocked the place to wait for the passage of Maayo Shipping LCT Martin 8, the official galleon which carries the images of the Holy Child, Our lady of Guadalupe, and St. Joseph.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes was among those who were at the place, which was adorned with yellow and red banderitas and had Sinulog songs being played.

A boat sank after got rammed by another boat but no one was hurt or lost as a result.

The Fluvial Procession was followed by a reenactment of the first baptism and wedding in the morning and then the Solemn Foot Procession of the Venerable Image of Sr. Sto. Niño at 1 p.m.

Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 Brigadier General Anthony Aberin also said the activities yesterday were generally peaceful, adding that they have not received any untoward incidents reported in their office that might have affected the Sinulog-related events.

He expressed his appreciation and thanks to the members of the community who were cooperative in maintaining peace and order in all Sinulog events. He also gave credit to the personnel deployed to secure the Sinulog events.

“Unang-una sa cooperation po ng every member of the community at saka yong pinagsamang efforts po ng ating kapulisan, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire at the same time po yong mga volunteer groups natin. Lalo po ngayon napakarami nating estudaynte na nag volunteer to help keep the peace and we appreciate it. Makita niya naman, buong kalsada nakabantay po sila,” he said.

There was an initial hiccup about the Solemn Procession route but with the cooperation of everyone it got addressed in time.

After meeting with transport groups and other concerned agencies, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia expressed her opposition on why a portion of N. Bacalso Ave. is included in the Solemn Procession route as she did not want to burden southern Cebu constituents going to the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT).

N. Bacalso Avenue was supposed to be closed to vehicular traffic for at least six hours to give way to the Solemn Procession, which the governor feels “illogical and irrational at the expense of public safety”.

She also said that construction debris and metal spikes of the Bus Rapid Transit project in front of CSBT that could pose serious harm and danger to the thousands of devotees, including old folks and children, who are expected to join the procession.

The CSBT, the main drop off point of travelers from the southern part of Cebu, is located along N. Bacalso Ave. As such, travelers to and from the south of Cebu via CSBT will be inconvenienced by the procession.

Immediately after the meeting with the Cebu City government representatives, Gov. Garcia issued a memorandum mandating the deployment of personnel from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Group, Philippine Coast Guard, and Civil Security Unit to ensure that her orders of keeping Natalio Bacalso Ave. open and maintaining operations at the Cebu South Bus Terminal are strictly observed and implemented.

Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia and City Councilor Rey Gealon accordingly made a resolution adopting the Governor’s suggestion to which Mayor Mike Rama eventually agreed to the changing of the route, just a few hours from the scheduled start of the procession.

A win-win solution was reached, wherein instead of turning left for N. Bacalso Ave. from Leon Kilat Street, the procession instead turned left for J. Alcantara St. then to V. Rama Ave. back to the intended route.

The image of the Santo Nino arrived past 4 p.m. at the Basilica, after which a solemn pontifical mass was celebrated by the Most Rev. Midyphil Billones.

For today’s Sinulog, Aberin reminded those witnessing the Sinulog grand parade to follow the rules.

“Pinapalalahanan po natin nag lahat na sana, yong mga dadalo bukas, ‘wag na po tayong magdala ng mga bagay na ipinagbabawal. Iwasan po nating magdala ng malalaking bag, at ‘wag na po nating dalhin yong mga anak natin na maliliit na baka magiging problema po natin na baka mawala po sila or masaktan,” he said.

He also advised for the public to be aware of the prohibited items during the celebration of the Sinulog, like oversized backpacks, knives, or any bladed materials, among others. — (FREEMAN)

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