Thousands line streets to send off Calungsod image-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Waving palm leaves, small flags and pictures of the Visayan martyr, devotees crowded the streets on Tuesday to send off the pilgrim image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
They endured the heat to get a glimpse of the image during the three-hour motorcade from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral to the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
A convoy of nearly 100 vehicles accompanied the red pickup that carried the three-foot-tall image. Devotees swarmed the slow-moving pickup to touch the image or wipe it with a handkerchief.
An estimated 20,000 people in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu went out to the streets to send off the image of the teenaged martyr, who will be canonized in Rome on Sunday, October 21.
Msgr. Marnell Mejia, a member of the Special Commission for the Devotion of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, said he was overwhelmed by the huge crowd.
“It was more than what we expected,” he said.
Mejia chairs the committee tasked to take the image of the second Filipino saint on a national pilgrimage after the canonization.
The Cathay Pacific aircraft carrying the image took off at 12:56 p.m. It arrived in Hong Kong at 3:15 p.m. There, the party was scheduled to wait until midnight for their flight to Rome.
They are expected to arrive in Rome at 8 a.m. today, Wednesday, said Fr. Charles Jayme, the custodian of the image.
The image occupied a passenger seat next to Father Jayme.
In an interview, the priest said being the custodian of the image is “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“This is very humbling,” he said.
Tuesday’s sendoff activities started at 4:30 a.m. with a procession and a motorcade bringing the image of the Visayan martyr from the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Blessed Pedro Calungsod to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Father Jayme celebrated a mass at the packed cathedral at 5:30 a.m.
In his homily, he urged the devotees to translate their faith in Blessed Pedro Calungsod into action.
By 8 a.m., the image was placed aboard the red pickup for the motorcade to the airport. Flag-waving pupils and devotees greeted the caravan. Flower petals were tossed into the air or onto the image itself.
In Mandaue City, devotees released red and white balloons, and chanted, “Viva San Pedro Calungsod!”
Officials of Barangay Subangdaku laid down a red carpet to welcome the arrival of the image in the city. Makeshift altars with icons of Blessed Pedro Calungsod were set up in some barangays.
The motorcade passed by the National Shrine of St. Joseph and the Mandaue City Hall.
In Lapu-Lapu City, residents showered the image with confetti.
An image of Virgin of the Rule, the city’s patron saint, joined the motorcade at the intersection near the City Hall.
Upon arrival, the image was brought to the airport chapel where Bishop Emilio Bataclan held a prayer service. While waiting to board the aircraft, Father Jayme and the image were accommodated at the business class lounge.
Police officials in the three cities said no untoward incident was reported during the motorcade.
In Cebu City, 5,000 people went out to the streets to send off the image, said Superintendent Wildemar Tiu of the Cebu City Police Office Operations Branch.
At least 50 police personnel from different Cebu City police stations secured the activity.
Superintendent Petronelli Baldebrin, chief of the Mandaue City Police Office, said about 5,000 people showed up to see the image. Eight police officers and 64 traffic enforcers were deployed on the streets.
In Lapu-Lapu City, an estimated 10,000 people lined the streets to welcome the motorcade, said Lapu-Lapu City Police Office Chief Rey Lyndon Lawas.
The police will be on their toes while the town of Ginatilan, Cebu will hold a three-day celebration of Beato Pedro Calungsod’s canonization starting on Friday.
Senior Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador, head of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said they will send more police personnel to provide security in the town.
“We will ensure peace and order will be maintained as many devotees will flock during that time,” he said in a press briefing.
Many members of the Calungsod clan live in Barangay Cagsing, Ginatilan.
During the celebrations, Comendador encouraged the public to be vigilant against street criminals like pickpockets, as lawless elements from other parts of the province will probably visit to take advantage of the large crowd.
Several posters of Calungsod were already placed along the road while the town’s church is set for the novenas.
The police official, during the interview, admitted he is a devotee of the saint.
“Being a Cebuano, he’s an inspiration to Catholics who strive to overcome any challenges,” Comendador said.
More than 200 pilgrims were on the same flight with the pilgrim image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
One of them was Judge Francisco Sevillo of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities-Cebu City.
“I’m very, very excited,” said Sevillo, who will be visiting Rome for the first time. “To think that this trip is more spiritual makes me even more excited.” Sevillo went to Rome with his wife and daughter.
Msgr. Mejia gave credit to the media for the huge turnout of devotees during the send-off activities.
“The media played a big role in keeping the public informed about the canonization,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Mejia urged the public to learn more about the life of the Visayan martyr.
A teenaged catechist, Calungsod was part of a Jesuit mission sent to teach catechism at the Ladrones Islands or the Marianas Islands in the late 1600s.
He served as the sacristan of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores. They were killed when they tried to baptize one of the natives.
Calungsod was beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in March 2000.
Some devotees, like the owner of the pickup that carried the image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, wanted to thank the Visayan martyr for the blessings they have received.
Jerry Alcover, a 58-year-old businessman, attributed the success of his restaurant in Cebu City to the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
“Nangalagad ko niya unya natagaan gyud ko ug restaurant (I served him and I was given a restaurant),” he said.
Alcover said he bought the red Chevrolet Colorado last month with the purpose of using it to carry the image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
He chose red because the color symbolizes martyrdom. He drove the vehicle during the motorcade.
Other devotees sent off the image hoping that Blessed Pedro Calungsod will grant their prayers.
Eugenio Amolo, 78, arrived in Cebu from Pagadian City in Mindanao last month for the operation of her granddaughter, who has breast cancer.
“Akong giampo ni Beato Pedro nga maayo lang unta ang akong apo, nga dili na mubalik ang iyang cancer (I prayed to Blessed Pedro that my daughter will get cured, that the cancer will not return),” she said.
Her 39-year-old granddaughter underwent an operation last October 6.
Outside the cathedral, Crisanto Baquero sat in his wheelchair facing a tarpaulin bearing the image of the Visayan martyr.
The 58-year-old resident of Barangay San Roque, Cebu City, said he prayed that he would be reunited with his wife and son, who are in Negros.
Baquero, who was crippled by polio when he was three years old, sleeps on the sidewalk and eats free meals at a drop-in center.
Crying, Baquero said he longs to see his wife and son, who left him in 2006 because of financial problems.
“Giampo nako nga mubalik nako akong asawa ug anak. (I prayed that my wife and son would come back to me),” he said. (With Davinci S. Maru/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2012.