THE annual celebration of the feast of the Child Jesus officially started yesterday with the “Walk for Jesus” that, as usual, attracted a big crowd of devotees. This is the 452nd Fiesta Señor celebration and has for its theme “Santo Niño: Source of Communion, Protector of Creation.” All the activities emanated from the Basilica del Sto. Niño, a reminder that this is primarily a religious affair.

This is the fiesta señor, not the “Sinulog” that many people wrongly refer to. The “sinulog” is the dance that the Cebu City Government transformed into a cultural competition during the day of the fiesta through a grand parade. This is the festivity that has attracted a good number of tourists to Cebu City. But it is, to remind everybody, but an adjunct of the mainly religious feast.

Since both the religious and cultural activities are crowd drawers, maintaining peace and order has become mainly a government concern. Around 5,000 elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Phiulippines (AFP) have been deployed to the city but Mayor Tomas Osmeña said they might not be enough.

“It's scary because the profile of the people who want to create harm is very clearly interested in civilian casualties, not military combat,” he said.

This is one instance where finding a balance between security and ensuring that the celebration would be successful is difficult. While talk of a possible terrorist attack could help raise the level of people's awareness to the threat and thus prop up their vigilance, it could also cause undue worries. But it would also be wrong to take security lightly.

The success of the celebration depends on how well peace and order is maintained. This, though, should not only be the concern of the police or the military or the auxiliary forces but of everybody. Everybody should learn how to recognize security threats and how to respond accordingly. Note that those who attempt to spread terror always ride on the element of surprise, or on their target's lack of vigilance.