ARTHUR, a 17-year-old resident of the Cebu City Operation Second Chance (CCOSC), asked for two things when he faced the pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño yesterday.
Arthur prayed that the Sto. Niño grant his plea to be reunited with his parents after spending almost three years in the facility for illegal drug possession. He also prayed that the Sto. Niño would like the Sinulog dance of his fellow residents that he choreographed.
The CCOSC, which houses 105 residents, was the first of three stops made by the pilgrim image.
After the CCOSC, the pilgrim image was brought to the female dormitory of the Cebu City Jail around 3 p.m.
At 6 p.m. the pilgrim image made its final stop at the male dormitory of the jail where more than 5,000 inmates awaited its arrival.
The pilgrim will stay overnight before it is returned to the Basilica del Sto. Niño today.
Princess (not her real name), a female detainee, was in tears when she saw the image paraded in their facility.
The visit made Princess’ day more special as she was also celebrating her 39th birthday.
Princess, who was detained for alleged human trafficking and illegal recruitment, said she prayed to be released before her mother’s birthday in March.
Princess is one of 560 inmates detained at the female dormitory.
Jail Chief Insp. Elsie Eireen Alcomendras, the female dormitory’s warden, told reporters that it was the pilgrim image’s sixth visit. She said the visit has had a good impact on the inmates.
Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., basilica rector, hopes that pilgrim image’s visit will give the inmates’ hope.
“I hope and pray that they will not lose hope, whether they have been sentenced or not. Let us remember God’s message that even though we are sinners, his love is everlasting,” Nohara said.
In a related development, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña accepted Nohara’s invitation to lead the Cebu City delegation to hand over the pilgrim image to Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing for the traslacion on Jan. 19.
It’s a nice way of uniting the local government units and the church, Nohara said.
“Even if there is a separation between the church and the government, the strength of their faith is still united. This embodies the Cebuano spirit,” he said.
Nohara was also grateful to Osmeña for issuing an executive order banning liquor during the fiesta. He said this will result in a peaceful celebration and people can focus on the solemnity of the event.
The traslacion’s route will be the same as last year.
The assembly area will be at the side of the basilica on Osmeña Blvd. Participants will turn left to M.J. Cuenco St., go straight to the Mandaue highway, turn to S.B. Cabahug St. then to the National Shrine of St. Joseph where the images of the Sto. Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe will be housed for a night.
On Jan. 20, the images will be taken to the Virgen de la Regla Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City. (Jaziel Calumpag, USC intern)