Editorial: Solemnity in practice

SOLEMN worship. Stakeholders have vowed to undertake more measures to keep this year’s fiesta of the Sto. Niño more in keeping with a faith that venerates the Holy Child and specially petitions for the welfare of children and all innocents.

With this 453rd Fiesta Señor celebration, organizers have decided to ban the selling of balloons inside the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

Knowing the rationale behind discontinuing an act and seeing its connection to one’s faith is essential for making Catholics and other members of the public understand and support the ban on balloons.

Gauging from the vendors proliferating around churches and plazas, balloons are bestsellers with parents and their young children.

The practice of releasing balloons with a petition tied to its string, which anticipates the granting of the petition with the heavenward direction of the balloon’s rise, may be traced to folk notions of Catholicism.

The practice, observed also during burials and launchings, has declined, though. Part of this may be due to the advocacy of educating the public on ecological awareness and responsibility. Mistaken as food, balloon litter blocks the digestion of animals, as well as entangles and kills them.

Environmentalism has been a recurring theme in the homilies of novena masses leading to the fiesta of the Sto. Niño. The organizers’ ban this year may be what’s needed to end a superstition linking balloons and piety, along with the myth’s disastrous consequences for animal welfare.

The public must also recognize the risks balloons pose in crowded places. A burst balloon can injure a child, cause people to panic, or lead to a stampede.

Minding the exhortation by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for the public to do its share in keeping this year’s observance of the Sinulog peaceful and orderly, citizens should not drink alcohol, use fireworks, or display rowdy behavior on the streets.

The public’s stakeholdership has the most impact in reducing pollution of all kinds.

The proper disposal of waste requires everyone to contribute: for households and establishments to put out waste receptacles along the routes of the processions and Sinulog events; for devotees to keep their waste in their bags for proper disposal after joining processions or turn over empty water bottles to those collecting these for recycling; and for street and sidewalk vendors to have trash bags for customers’ food wrappers. Plastic clogging Cebu’s canals and streets cause a chain of effects that lingers beyond the fiesta.

Pollution control also involves regulating noise. In a competition to attract buyers or compete with neighbors, many commercial establishments and households air announcements or music at volumes that cause discomfort and prevent people from communicating. A household praying the rosary is more meaningful than a streetside karaoke or amplifier system assaulting devotees joining the procession.

In the fiesta of the Sto. Niño, it is foremost to remember the essence of faith. To celebrate the feast with solemnity means to express the “deepest sincerity.”

As the Philippine National Police relaunches “Oplan Tokhang” this month, every Cebuano must reexamine faith in the light of his or her responsibility to those caught in the use of illegal drugs or accused of taking part in its illegal trade.

Oplan Tokhang has resulted in the controversial deaths of over 7,000 suspects and extrajudicial killing victims. Over 1.3 million drug dependents have surrendered, and their rehabilitation is uncertain.

There is an inextricable connection between the worship of the Sto. Niño and respect for the right to life, due process and equal protection of the law. Ignoring that link reduces faith to a mere superstition similar to storming the heavens with a balloon.
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