AT THE opening of the fiesta celebration for Lapu-Lapu City’s patroness, the Virgin of the Rule, the spiritual message to the faithful was clear.
Made also clear at the opening on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, was the political infighting among local officials.
Faith in God and devotion to the Lady of the Rule, who has been credited by local folk for miracles such as healing the sick, letting the disabled walk again and passing examinations, have been the religious message of the celebration.
But, this time, the seaborne procession for the Virgin to kick off fiesta activities was not spared from the political bickering, with some officials accusing others of sabotage.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan said some barangay chiefs failed to implement the traditional floral drop, a highlight of the annual seaborne procession.
The Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) headed by Councilor Eduardo Cuizon was tasked to oversee the floral drop from the two Mandaue-Lapu-Lapu bridges but it did not, Chan said. The result? The faithful observed there were only a few flowers dropped compared to past celebrations when the ferry of Topline Express that carried the Virgin passed under the two bridges.
Chan said, as per tradition, the 19 barangays in mainland Lapu-Lapu City are tasked by the ABC to prepare the flowers for the floral drop as an offering. But ABC president and Bankal Barangay Captain Cuizon, who sits in the City Council and is with the opposition, said it was not the task of the ABC to handle the floral drop as they were there just to cooperate or support.
“Wa intawn koy staff oy. Unsaon man namo pagpreparar? Usa ra nang akong staff, tig-abli ug sira sa pultahan ug mo-receive og dokomento, usahay akong sugu-on,” Cuizon said. (I don’t have staff, so how can I prepare? I only have one staff member who opens and closes the door, receives documents and sometimes runs errands for me.)
Cuizon also asked why Chan blamed him for the botched floral drop. “Amahan gani ka sa usa ka pamilya, dili nimo i-blame ang palpak ngadto sa imong anak. Ang ginikanan gyud na, kon gi-unsa nimo pagtratar imong anak,” he added. (If you are the father of the family, you do not blame the lapses on your children. It should be the parent, and it reflects on how you treat your children.)
Mayor Chan also said Cuizon ordered barangay captains not to attend the ABC Night held Tuesday; this was according to information he said he received from other barangay chiefs. The ABC made no preparations for its yearly ABC Night in line with the fiesta.
“Di unta ilabot ang kapistahan sa Birhen sa Regla sa politika. Unsa man ni si (Cuizon) wa pa ka move on sa politika,” Chan said. (The feast of the Virgin of Rule should be spared from politics. What’s wrong with Cuizon that he has not moved on from politics?)
Cuizon, however, denied he told barangay chiefs not to participate in the activities. He said they agreed in the last ABC meeting that there would be no ABC Night.
Despite this, Chan’s office prepared 30 lechons (roasted pig), puso (rice), beverages and a sound system for the 30 barangays. The mayor invited barangay chiefs, especially those who are supporters of the Radazas, his political opponents. Most accepted the invitation, but there were others who did not.
Among those invited were Lyndel Bullos - Pajo, Reynaldo Tampus – Canjulao, Cyrus Eyas – San Vicente, Justino Booc Jr. – Pusok, Joselito Tibon – Suba Basbas, Lucrecia Amores – Marigondon, Eleonor Fontanoza – Gun-ob, Crisanto Estardo – Punta Engaño, Evaristo Dihayco – Mactan and Virgilio Casiao – Pangan-an (Olango Island).
“Ako lang tan-awon, Mayor, kay mag-session pud ra ba mi,” said Marigondon Barangay Captain Lucresia Amores. Chan replied in Cebuano: “Don’t check. You should just attend. Postpone the session. This happens just once a year.”
Cuizon, on the other hand, said if the mayor invited him, he would decline as he has a prior commitment at a church organization.
Tuesday was the first day of the nine-day novena for the Feast of the Virgin of the Rule. The seaborne procession was the kick-off activity. About 60 pump boats participated in the procession witnessed by an estimated 10,000 devotees. (FVQ)