FIRST and foremost, I would like to thank God for proving the scaremongers wrong.The fluvial parade, the solemn procession and the grand parade all went without a hitch, save for a few minor incidents like cases of lost children, who were eventually reunited with their parents.

The Hilongos, Leyte bombing toward the end of last December, so close to the Sinulog celebration, must still have been fresh on some people’s minds, while the Davao blast and its death toll continue to rattle some nerves. So it was expected that some Sto. Niño devotees and revelers would shy away from this year’s festivities.

The decision to shut down cell sites over the weekend certainly didn’t help. Not only did it deprive the public of the use of their cellphones for a few hours last Saturday and Sunday, but it also conditioned them to think that something bad could happen during those two days.

Mind you, the weather was exactly not faultless.

Pagasa had warned that there would be rain during the week-long “fiesta,” and, for a change, its forecast didn’t disappoint. Like clockwork, the downpour arrived, every day, drenching Cebu City, muddying its streets and basically putting a damper on the people’s party spirit.

Last Saturday was no different. Heavy rain greeted the fluvial parade in the morning, while a slight drizzle accompanied the devotees who walked the 5.7-kilometer route of the solemn procession later in the afternoon.

So when I left the house last Sunday, the day of the grand parade, I brought my big, black umbrella along. I lugged it around as I weaved in and out of the crowd on my way to the office on P. del Rosario St. thinking I’d have need of it. But it turned out that this was quite unnecessary because the weather decided it needed a respite from the rain. That, or it’s a big a fan of Barbra Streisand.

But hey, the upside to all these was the smaller attendance. That meant I didn’t have to jostle for space or push my way through a throng, unlike last year.

And by small, I mean over a million people who converged in Cebu City to venerate the Sto. Niño. I know the estimate is a couple of million shy from last year’s but more than a million people is still a lot, and I mean, a lot of people.

You see, the scaremongers failed to take into account the Cebuanos’ propensity “to laugh in the face of danger or “to tweak the nose of terror.”

As I turned left from R. Landon to Don Pedro Cui, I encountered a group of mature women, one of whom was carrying a small image of the Sto. Niño. They smiled when they saw that I was looking at them. They asked if I had seen the float carrying Coco Martin? I shook my head and smiled in return.