Santo Niño is coming, all will be well

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag - The Freeman

Those old enough to have lived through the era of cowboys and indians movies will probably remember what the sound of a bugle means. It means the cavalry is coming. It means help is on the way. In almost every such movie that I have seen, the sound of the bugle and the arrival of the cavalry is always greeted with wild cheers from the audience.

As we moved on from the movies and into real life, we learned to cope with challenges big and small that came our way with what we all have been taught at home, equipped with in school, guided by society's leaders, and strengthened in faith by our church. But of all these challenges, no one has ever met the likes of this coronavirus.

Not me, not my family, not my neighbors, not my country, not my world. Everyone is reeling from the relentless attack by this deadly unseen enemy. No place has been spared. From the most powerful, richest, most technologically-advanced country in the world to the smallest island where only the birds in the trees provide regular activity.

All humanity is rendered helpless and scared to the point of madness and irrationality. Nurses being attacked or driven away for fear they might be carriers of the virus? How quickly people forget that if life is one great big movie, then there has got to be only one logical ending to the story --the sound of the bugle and the coming of the cavalry. Help will be on the way. All will be well in the end.

Well, I heard the bugle on Sunday night. And I saw the cavalry coming. But it was a bugle sound and a cavalry unlike any other. The sound was of a recorded Cebuano song of prayer, the cavalry of only one rider in a borrowed red pickup truck. It was the Santo Niño and he has come to the rescue to the haunting, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking song "Batobalani sa Gugma".

The Santo Niño does not usually come out unless in procession in connection with his fiesta or other religious activity. But the Santo Niño came out of his home in the basilica Sunday night and passed through the empty streets of Cebu City for a different purpose --to survey the damage and to bring hope to his people, though driven inside by the curfew and knowing of his passing only by the sound of "Batobalani".

But though they were inside, nearly a million kept track of his movements as he went from street to street. The tears flowed along with prayers. One never felt so helpless and yet so relieved at the almost-eerie sight of the Santo Niño moving slowly in the night through his damaged world. There was only one message clear enough to be learned immediately that night: Do not despair. The Santo Niño is coming. Help is on the way.

By the time the Santo Niño came out again Monday night, the people could no longer be restrained and confined to their homes by the curfew. As they heard the sound of "Batobalani" approaching, they rushed out of their homes and knelt, and waved, and shouted, and prayed as the Santo Niño passed by. Never in many days in these difficult times have the people slept so well afterward. There is a God. And he is in control.


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