ORGANIZERS of this year’s Fiesta Señor reminded politicians that this year’s religious activities should be dedicated to the Sto. Niño, not to enhance their political careers.
The reminder was made by Fr. Jonas Mejares, rector of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, during a press conference.
Mejares urged political aspirants to use their “common sense” by not using the Fiesta Señor to campaign.
“Ang amo gyud ana kinasingkasing nga pag-awhag nila nga dili unta nila himuon ang pagpangampanya. This is too unchristian kon himoon na nila nga mangampanya sila (if they campaign) during procession. Because this is a very solemn and religious activity. So, dila unta nila sudlan ug ing-ana. Kung tinuod sila nga deboto, dili nila gamiton ang Sto. Niño para sa ilang mga personal nga katuyoan (If they are real devotees, they won’t use the Sto. Niño for their own personal gain),” Mejares told reporters.
With the national and local elections months away, national politicians are hoping to court votes in Cebu, which has one of the highest voting turnouts in the country.
Mejares said campaigning politicians will be prohibited from entering some of the aspects of the nine-day novena, including the traditional foot and fluvial processions.
He said that in the case of the solemn foot procession, only benefactors of the Basilica will be allowed to walk close to the “carrosa,” or carriage, carrying the image of the Sto. Niño.
Also, organizers announced that they will introduce changes to some of the traditional activities like the Traslacion from Cebu City to Mandaue City.
Lawyer Paul Yabao, legal adviser for the 2016 Fiesta Señor organizing committee, said that instead of turning over the image of the Sto. Niño to Mandaue City officials in Barangay Subangdaku, they will hold the turnover ceremony at the main highway on A.S. Fortuna St.
Yabao said they decided to change the venue because organizers felt that some Mandaue City residents were not able to experience the presence of the Holy Image.
After the images of the Sto. Niño and the Lady of Guadalupe are turned over to Mandaue City officials, these will be brought to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Barangay Centro.
Organizers also announced that they will unveil the new belfry of the Basilica just before the end of the fiesta.
Fr. Harold Rentoria of the Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Augustinian Fathers told reporters that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has spent P13.6 million to restore the belfry after it collapsed during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Cebu and Bohol in 2013.
Rentoria said restorers decided not to use coral stones from the old belfry and instead used a combination of traditional and new technology to restore it.