FOR the second consecutive year, parishes in Cebu City are discouraged from holding the Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Fiestas and religious events are also not allowed yet, said Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera.
Garganera, who is the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy chief implementer, said holding such events would violate health and safety protocols.
“I’m not necessarily saying that let’s do away with it. We can always hold it after the pandemic,” Garganera said.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu, admitted that some parishes have initiated Flores de Mayo masses while strictly complying with health and safety protocols since May 1.
The masses are traditionally held at 4 p.m. daily and feature children dressed as angels who offer flowers for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Unlike in previous years, however, children are no longer allowed to attend mass.
Based on quarantine protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, children below 10 years old are not allowed to step out of their homes in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Cebu City and the rest of Cebu Province are under MGCQ until the end of May.
Tan said Cebuano Catholics can show their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary without having to go to church.
“If it’s not possible to go to church for fear of Covid-19, let’s keep the Marian devotion alive in our own little way,” he said.
He said the devotees can pray the rosary and offer candles to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Flores de Mayo, literally the Flowers of May, is a festival in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary while the Santacruzan, traditionally held as culminating event of Flores de Mayo, is a pageant commemorating the search by Queen Helena of Constantinople for the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Garganera said the risk of Covid-19 transmission is high in these events, which have traditionally attracted crowds, including children.
A barangay or organizer who wants to conduct a religious procession must seek a permit from the local police, said Garganera.
He recalled that before the quincentennial celebration was held in Cebu City, a lot of meetings involving different agencies and offices, including the Archdiocese of Cebu, were held to ensure that the event would not cause Covid-19 transmission.
“It was successful because we do not want to commit even the slightest mistake in doing the event,” said Garganera.
Garganera said he might be the “most hated” person because of the EOC’s recommendation, but he said this is for the safety of the majority.
He said Cebu City cannot afford another surge in Covid-19 cases. (JJL, JKV)