Wenceslao: Fiesta crowd, traffic

I WAS out on an errand yesterday morning when the sky was overcast and the rain had yet to fall. I don’t like bringing an umbrella because more often than not I would misplace it but if one goes to war one should be equipped. The precaution served me well because when I was near the Plaza Independencia rain fell. It didn’t pour but it was enough to make one wet in seconds—if one didn’t have an umbrella.

I am no fan of Grab or Uber so I went traditional in going home and waited for a “vacant” taxicab on the sidewalk even as my umbrella got pounded by the rain. But there is no such thing as a vacant taxicab during wet days, which had me ruing why I am not a fan of Grab or Uber. I brushed the thought aside by noting that if taxicabs can’t be had that time, why could a Grab or Uber unit be easily available?

So I did what I thought was the next best thing, ride a public utility jeepney (PUJ). I chose the one headed for Bulacao but soon realized I was wrong because it headed right into the most crowded portion of Cebu City these days, the vicinity of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. When the PUJ moved to a crawl upon reaching the road fronting the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the Basilica’s neighbor, I rued why I didn’t stick to my original plan of riding a taxi.

I went from my place to Plaza Independencia using the Cebu South Coastal Road, which provides a smooth travel if no accidents happen or no vehicle, especially trucks, get stalled on any of its lanes. The coastal road, the one that snakes through the South Road Properties (SRP) is actually a trap—there’s no way you can get out of it when traffic builds up. But on normal days it’s a better option.

When we reached Borromeo St. where traffic began to ease up, I got down from the PUJ and, with my trusted umbrella, began hunting for a taxi. After several minutes of waiting and transferring (from Borromeo I went to Leon Kilat St. then back to Borromeo) I realized I was wasting precious time waiting for nothing. So I hopped into another PUJ for Bulacao, this time determined to complete the trip.

I asked a fellow passenger, who I thought was more knowledgeable of the traffic situation in the route I was taking, if we would be slowed down considerably in Basak where the construction of an underpass was ongoing. “Ah, wa ro’y traffic kay tingpaniudto na,” he said. That eased my worries a bit. I had to be home before 1 p.m. Surprisingly, traffic was smooth all the way.

Which is always the case during the feast of the Sto. Niño. The build-up in the traffic of vehicles and people are at the Basilica and can therefore be evaded. Here, I admire my wife who, instead of evading, goes right into the mouth of the monster. She is not a devotee in the strict sense of the word, but she always attends masses at the Basilica if she has the time—and endure the crowd.

The Augustinian priests and the Cebu City Government have come up with a unique rerouting this year, both for vehicles and of the crowd. It had the devotees circling around the Basilica, walking for “miles” to get to the entry and exit points. It also had the vehicles already rerouted days before the fiesta and the Sinulog Grand Parade. But nobody seems to be complaining.

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