WHY do you think Barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City is receiving so much flak for a procession and a Sinulog dance performance that took place in Sitio Alumnos late Saturday afternoon, June 27, 2020?
Its officials may even face criminal and administrative charges if the City Legal Office isn’t satisfied with their explanation.
Well, let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
Cebu City reverted to enhanced community quarantine status on June 15 after it emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
That means mass gatherings are strictly prohibited.
Unfortunately for barangay officials, pictures of last Saturday’s activities show many people participating in the procession and watching and enjoying the dance in honor of the Sto. Niño. They can’t deny that.
And since it’s not normal for a crowd to stand 1.5 meters apart, especially in a society where the concept of personal space is foreign, social distancing became purely theoretical.
Again, the pictures don’t lie.
Was everyone wearing face masks, at least? It appears they did, although I don’t have a magnifying glass with me to double check. However, I’m willing to wager that several people forgot to put on face protection in their excitement to partake in the religious experience.
You know, I get it.
Many of us here in Cebu City are at the end of our ropes. It has been three months since the government restricted our movements, shut down public transportation and most businesses and put our lives on hold while an unseen enemy lurks in our midst.
For the people of Sitio Alumnos, their actions were a show of defiance. In the face of all this uncertainty and anxiety, they turned to religion to provide them with comfort and answers to their many questions. That, or they’re not taking this health crisis seriously.
Either way, they were, in Blackadder’s words, laughing in the face of danger and tweaking the nose of terror.
Yet it never occurred to organizers that the government just sent 150 members of the Special Action Force, an elite unit of the Philippine National Police, to help local authorities enforce quarantine regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
That they were actually endangering the lives of their family and neighbors.
Barangay Captain Norman Navarro said he tried to stop the proceedings. But you and I know that nobody gets in the way between a Cebuano and his or her veneration for the Child Jesus.
You see, people have different ways of coping. Some cry. Some eat. Some drink, while some, like the people in Sitio Alumnos, affirm their faith.
So who am I to judge?