1.4M Sto. Niño devotees join seaborne, foot processions

THE faithful gather around the carroza carrying the image of the Señor Sto. Niño after it returns to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño past 4 p.m. from the Solemn Foot Procession on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2024. / EARL PADRONIA
THE faithful gather around the carroza carrying the image of the Señor Sto. Niño after it returns to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño past 4 p.m. from the Solemn Foot Procession on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2024. / EARL PADRONIA

A MOTORBOAT was struck by another vessel in waters off the baywalk near the Malacañang sa Sugbo in Cebu City on Saturday morning, Jan. 20, 2024, just after the Fiesta Señor’s seaborne procession ended.

According to Deputy Commander Mark Mariano of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District 7, the motorboat was about to drop off its passengers at the port when the incident happened.

It was not determined if the two vessels had participated in the procession.

No injuries and no oil spill were reported.

Mariano said the management of both vessels agreed to settle amicably.

“Hihilahin na lang daw nila (motorboat) papunta sa Shell Island para hindi tuluyang lumubog. Doon na lang muna daw ito sa beach,” said Mariano.

(They said they will just tow the motorboat to Shell Island to prevent it from sinking. It will be moored on the beach in the meantime.)

The Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu City Police Offices both assessed the seaborne procession to be “generally peaceful.”

Lt. Col. Franco Rudolf Oriol, the Mandaue City Police Office deputy city director for administration and spokesman, said roughly 10,000 devotees waited for the galleon carrying the patron images of the Holy Family, which included Our Lady of Guadalupe, Señor Sto. Niño and St. Joseph the Worker, to pass the North Reclamation Area.

His counterpart in Lapu-Lapu City, Lt. Col. Christian Torres, said around 2,000 Oponganon devotees witnessed the event.

All in all, Police Regional Office 7 Director Brig. Gen. Anthony Aberin said, around 200,000 devotees, including passengers of participating vessels, attended the seaborne procession.

According to the Coast Guard, 247 vessels registered for the activity. But upon counting, there were an estimated 345 to 400 vessels, excluding the 69 floating vessels that were used as marshals.

Mariano said the procession began awkwardly due to the initial positioning of participating vessels, but it ended smoothly and in an orderly manner.

“The collaboration between the maritime LEAs (law enforcement agencies) under Sub Task Force Maritime Security headed by the PCG produced a great result in the performance of their mandates and accomplishment of their mission,” he said.

The seaborne procession is a reenactment of the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan’s ship on the shores of Cebu in the 16th century, which brought the image of the Señor Sto. Niño. It also symbolizes the arrival of Christianity in the country.

During the seaborne procession, the images of the Sto. Niño, titular head of the Cebu Archdiocese, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Cebu Archdiocese, were transported from the Naval Forces Central in Lapu-Lapu City to Pier 1 in Cebu City, traversing the waters under the first Mactan-Mandaue Bridge.

From Pier 1, a short foot procession at 8 a.m. brought the images to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

At noon, devotees joined the six-kilometer-long Solemn Foot Procession from the Basilica.

The route took them to D. Jakosalem St., Magallanes St., A. Borromeo St., Leon Kilat St., J. Alcantara St., V. Rama Ave., B. Rodriguez St. and Osmeña Blvd. before returning to the Basilica.

Crowd estimates last year placed the number of devotees at around three million. This year, however, police said only around P1.2 million attended the event.

Around 3 p.m., devotees started to gather at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica to await the arrival of the image of the Señor Sto. Niño.

Along Osmeña Blvd., thousands gathered to wait for the procession, including Cebu City Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros.

He said he has never missed the event since he was elected as a public official.

“Whatever that they are doing as long as they have seen a glimpse of the image of the Señor Sto. Niño, musaka ilang faith (their faith is reinforced),” he said.

The carroza carrying the image of the Señor Sto. Niño arrived at the Basilica at 4:21 p.m., or almost four hours after the procession started.

No untoward incidents were reported in both the seaborne procession and the Solemn Foot Procession.

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