A memorable and unforgettable 51st IEC

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

It was indeed a very hectic Sunday for me and my family as we joined the “Statio Orbis” of the final Holy Mass to end the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.

Apparently a great majority of our fellow Cebuanos had the same plans that I made that is, to go early to SM Seaside City, watch a movie, have lunch then cross to the South Road Properties to attend the Holy Mass officiated by his eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo at the main altar.

We arrived in SM around 11:00AM and it took us 45-minutes to enter their parking lot and found a parking slot. As we went up the ground floor, the SM Seaside was already teaming with people many of them were in queues lining up for brunch or lunch at all the restaurants inside SM. This is not to mention that so many people were sitting along the sides having their “baon” with them. I watched the movie 13-hours, a movie about the infamous Benghazi incident where America lost its first ambassador to terrorists on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

By 4:00PM we crossed from SM Seaside to SRP.  My smart son-in-law Atty. Jennoh Tequillo purchased plastic pails for us to use as seats as they were inexpensive while small plastic seats were sold for a thousand bucks while using a pail can be of great use in the house. I was truly glad that my whole family came with me to be part of this historic and unforgettable event. The procession last Friday afternoon was already unforgettable seeing a sea of candles into the twilight praying and singing songs of praise to the Blessed Sacrament in the carroza with more than a million people following behind the Holy Eucharist in the Monstrance.

As we entered the SRP, a policeman tried to stop me saying that only seniors were allowed to pass his station. I got mad as I had my youngest grandson in his baby carriage and told the police officer that what he is doing is breaking our family and preventing us from going further. But if you looked around people - young and old - were already going in the area. I scolded a police officer and told him that his job was to secure the area not to stop people from entering the premises. He remarked to me that they were afraid of a stampede. I told this PNP officer that they had a lack of faith in the Cebuanos who joined the Holy Mass and he allowed us to enter.

We were about a hundred and fifty yards from the main altar and by 4:30PM the crowd behind us was already thick with people all the way to SM Seaside. It was then that I met Mike Lopez of my Talkshow host in Open Mike over MyTV channel 30. Newspaper estimates put the crowd at one million. But that did not count the people also the street standing by SM Seaside. Later as we returned home, we found vehicles parked as far as Parilya Restaurant. I think it was close to two million.

Perhaps the best message of the Holy Mass came from Cardinal Bo who said, “As we go, our hearts wish to stay with you. You have made us realize the intense fellowship that comes through the Eucharist. You are a nation of hope. Your date with destiny has arrived. Your sons and daughters will be blessed a hundred fold and you will be called a Blessed Nation.

Then Cardinal Bo added, “Many of us come from countries where Christianity is a big challenge. Churches are empty, vocations dying out. They say Christianity is in the twilight zone. Take heart my brother and sister Filipinos, multiply your missionaries, multiply your children! (When the people heard this… they applauded the Cardinal). Go and populate these countries where Christians are becoming minorities, those countries where there are more pets, more cats, and dogs than children.” Cardinal Bo was merely telling Filipinos the reality today, especially in Europe which was very staunchly Christian until a hundred years ago when they started losing their Christian culture and love for God. But Cardinal Bo found this faith in Cebu!

What I found remarkable being in the midst of a million people was that all of them responded vigorously to the prayers during the Holy Mass. And when the Lord’s Prayer was sung in Cebuano people sang it aloud! But at the end of the mass, Archbishop Jose Palma came out to apologize for the inconvenience that the IEC caused our people but he got applauded for his humility. With the Holy Mass over, people did not rush to go home. Then a few minutes later, the giant video screens showed Pope Francis giving a message to the Filipino people and that the next IEC will be in Budapest, Hungary.

We returned to SM Seaside City had dinner there in the hope that the crowd would already disperse after dinner. By 9:00PM we left SM via SRP to Talisay, passing by Laray and into Pardo. Traffic was smooth in SRP but snarled along N. Bacalso Ave. where we turned left to Lourdes Parish and Katipunan Ave. It took us two-hours to get home. But it was very memorable.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com


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