The Sto. Niño is traditionally depicted as a diminutive king, a child dressed in imperial garb, holding a scepter and an orb topped by a cross. For many Cebuanos, this Niño towers in their life, especially during the celebration of the religious and cultural festival in January.
Yesterday, as Cebu’s residents and visitors marked the 459th fiesta and Sinulog 2024, it is notable that a religious and cultural event reinforces century-old customs while reinventing to make tradition relevant for the times.
Cooperation between citizens and visitors with the authorities has significantly improved every year during the annual January celebration of faith in the Sto. Niño, with priests capping the novenario masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño with a reminder and exhortation that equates responsible citizenship with piety for the Holy Infant.
Authorities’ estimate of 1.2 million taking part in the foot procession that started at 1 p.m. last Saturday establish that this year’s devotees are fewer than the three million participating in 2023.
Thousands more were stationed on sidewalks along the six-kilometer route of the foot procession. Despite the intense heat last Saturday and the thirst it may stimulate in the crowd, there was a significant reduction of food trash littering the streets and the sidewalks.
In previous years, water containers discarded along the procession route posed hazards for procession participants, especially those bearing infants and children, the elderly, and those relying on wheelchairs for mobility.
There is still a notable absence of receptacles for trash located along the procession route. Can barangays and business establishments collaborate in stationing receptacles for solid waste in future processions?
Some enterprising individuals held out plastic bags to receive discarded PET bottles; these can later be sold at shops recycling waste.
Other devotees took their garbage with them, either returning empty water bottles in their bags or bringing reusable water or liquid containers. Many parents bearing small children juggled feeding their young, rehydrating, and bagging again their trash, an inspiration for their children to emulate as a demonstration of faith in good acts of citizenship.
Compared to previous years, the students, police, and other barangay volunteers holding up ropes or other barriers to steer and manage the procession crowd were more disciplined and patient, mirrored by the restraint and discipline of the people who attempted to enter or leave the foot procession.
No stampede or accident marred the almost fivehour procession that passed through many narrow roads in the downtown area.
Along the procession route, the strategic placement of sound systems that broadcasted the praying of the rosary and the singing of the “gozos” (petition traditionally sung for the Sto. Niño) may have helped maintain devotees’ focus on the procession.
No longer observed is the intentional release of balloons to “elevate” petitions for divine intervention. The public knows better than to release balloons which later end up in the sea and endangering sea animals.
Along Osmeña Boulevard, the sidewalk rehabilitation was still ongoing, presenting challenges and risks for pedestrians.
Yet, it should also be noted that the sidewalks already incorporate yellow strips of tactile paving that serve as aids for the visually impaired to walk safely.
These strips are colored yellow to alert those with diminished vision. These tiles also have a particular texture so the sight-impaired may read these with their mobility aids.
It is hoped that other public areas, such as transport terminals and town or city halls, can also have this tactile paving incorporated to promote the safety of persons with disability (PWD).
Weaving faith in daily acts that respect fellow humans and the ecology, Cebuanos demonstrate the seamless weaving of spirituality and community.
1. Which political clan from Bogo City in northern Cebu recently joined One Cebu, the political party led by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia?
2. How much did the lone winner of the 6/49 Lotto jackpot prize win as announced by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office?
3. Who was crowned Miss Cebu 2024?
4. Which city in Mindanao will be holding a plebiscite on March 9, 2024 to decide on the proposal to add three more barangays in its jurisdiction? 5. Who is the Philippine senator who was acquitted of plunder charges but convicted of bribery in connection with the pork barrel scam?
6. From P100, how much will the Pag-Ibig collect as monthly savings rate from its members starting February 2024?
7. Which Cabinet official got dismayed by a Chinese foreign ministry official for “insulting” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after Marcos Jr. congratulated Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-Te?
8. What song won the grand prize in the 42nd Cebu Pop Music Festival Pop Love Song Category? 9. How many devotees joined this year’s Walk with Mary procession?
10. Which image of a beloved saint joined this year’s seaborne procession for the first time?
7-8 Very Good
For the answers, check out SunStar Cebu’s Jan. 23, 2024 issue.