ONLY four devotees availed themselves of the free accommodation at the Devotee City, which is designed to accommodate at least 4,000 people.
Despite the low turnout of devotees, the Cebu City Government will keep the facility open up to the last day of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) on Jan. 31, just in case more pilgrims arrive for the closing mass.
The closing mass at the South Road Properties on Jan. 31, Sunday, is expected to draw one million participants.
Yesterday noon, the visitors staying at the Devotee City—three from Leyte and one from Dumanjug town in southern Cebu—were not around and were probably spending the day in other parts of the city, the custodian said.
Meriam Cabaluna of the Office of the Mayor said their guests are around only at night to sleep inside the cargo containers set up by 2Go Group, Inc.
Cabaluna urged pilgrims from other towns—beyond Danao City in the north and Carcar City in the south—to take advantage of the free accommodation if they want to come to the city to participate in IEC activities.
“Ang mga walay kapuy-an, welcome gyud sila to stay here until Jan. 31. Okay na gyud kaayo diri kay walay gasto… maka save gyud sila kay makabayad baya gyud sila if mag-pension house (It’s free here),” she told reporters yesterday.
Aside from the sleeping areas, the Devotee City is equipped with a kitchen and has free water and power supply.
The Devotee City was opened for the Sinulog festivities but Labella asked 2Go to extend the free use of the containers for participants of IEC activities who may not have any place to stay.
Cabaluna hopes that before the weekend, more pilgrims will arrive in time for the closing of the IEC.
“Give up na unta mi ani kay wala gyud tawo but dili man gyud ipabungkag ni mayor (We wanted to stop this, but the mayor didn’t want to),” she said.
With only four guests, Cabaluna said they allowed some of the street dwellers rescued by City Hall to stay in one area of the Devotee City.
In his news conference yesterday, Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella said the facility will remain open until the 31st just in case there will be an influx of pilgrims.
“Dili gyud daghan ang nangabot but gipaandam lang nato in case there is an influx of people. It’s better to have an excess of sleeping areas compared to not having any at all,” he said.