ABOUT 4,000 persons walked at dawn yesterday in Cebu City in honor of the Sto. Niño and were urged to “look forward to another 450 years” of devotion.
The Penitential Walk with Jesus started in the Redemptorist Church and ended in the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, where the first of nine masses for the 450th Kaplag celebration began at 5:30 a.m.
“Bid goodbye to 450 years of our past. Let’s look forward to another 450 years,” said Fr. Jonas Mejares, rector of the Basilica.
“Surely, the past is past and what is finished is done and gone. Bid goodbye to our frustrations, disappointments, disillusion and hopelessness with the past 450 years. We must say goodbye to the mistakes of the past. Definitely, we must bid goodbye to the things which we have failed to perform or express as sons and daughters of God,” Mejares said.
He challenged the devotees to welcome the future with hope and with a sustained appreciation for the Holy Child.
“We are not just Cebuanos, not just Filipinos. We are also Catholics and we have received a precious gift in the form of the Santo Niño,” Mejares added.
Kaplag is celebrated annually to remind Cebuanos of their Catholic origins. It commemorates the discovery of the image of the Sto. Niño that was believed to have been found intact inside the ruins of a burned hut in 1565.
The image of the Santo Niño, which was brought to the Redemptorist Church during a Traslacion last Saturday, was returned to its home at the Basilica during yesterday’s procession.
Three more novena masses were held yesterday after the one Fr. Mejares celebrated. To cap the day’s activities, students and faculty members of the Mandaue City College performed the traditional Sinulog at the Basilica Pilgrim Center.
Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela Jr., officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said the procession was peaceful and orderly.
“Hapsay kaayo ang tanan. Wala’y nagpabadlong. Malinawon kining napahigayon (It went smoothly. No one caused any trouble and the event proceeded peacefully),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
Batiancela said there were at least 100 police officers who were deployed to secure the procession. It was the first time the activity was held as part of the Kaplag, and he expects more people would join if it will be repeated next year.