THE holding of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) here has given Cebu many benefits.
Traffic was managed well the past week so that vehicles were able to move despite the congestion. Police personnel and traffic enforcers were visible, even in the early morning, as they kept order on the streets. Those who attended IEC public events were generally more tolerant, patient, and obedient of rules.
Before the IEC, organizers warned of road congestion and travel time that could take several hours. Announcements of road closures were made days ahead so that commuters were able to plan their trips. Roads leading to IEC venues got congested but commuters and vehicle owners were happy to see traffic still moving, albeit slowly. This was an improvement to the usual congestion Cebuanos suffered, when cars barely moved at worst times.
It helped that traffic personnel were out in full force and controlling the flow at almost every chokepoint. Drivers tended to abide by the rules, either because the police was there to check them or the IEC spirit infected them. It seemed the IEC brought out the best in the Cebuano.
A social media user who criticized the traffic management got denounced in return for being a KJ (killjoy) and for not making the sacrifice asked of Cebuanos to ensure a problem-free IEC hosting.
Prayers during the Visita Iglesia last Thursday and the procession last Friday became venues for community prayers as strangers said the rosary together and sang the IEC theme song as it was played again and again. During these public events, participants were noticeably more tolerant of those who surrounded them, felt compassion for the elderly walking with them, and were concerned for the children especially at tight spots. Some pushing by boys immediately stopped after they were told it was not nice or wise.
This was the beauty, or perhaps the mystery, of Cebu’s hosting of the IEC that made the people grow in their religiosity.
Pope Francis’s representative, Charles Maung Cardinal Bo of Myanmar, got cheered by students who took selfies with him as they said the cardinal had the so-called Pope magic, that aura of being the living person closest to God and the one who probably could perform miracles.
Even the weather complied when the skies cleared in time for the Thursday walk after days of rain and worry.
It was a proud moment to be a Cebuano, to be in the company of foreign religious leaders, and to have the national and international spotlight on Cebu. I hope the magic of IEC and the empathy and warmth will stay with us for a long time.
The closing mass of the IEC today may be viewed live over the Internet through www.sunstar.com.ph. Go to the website after you connect to the Internet from your phone or computer.
The Statio Orbis or closing mass starts at 4 p.m. at the South Road Properties.
The live streaming is courtesy of the IEC Cebu and the Radio-Television Malacañang.