AS THOUSANDS of Catholic faithful are expected to attend the religious activities set for the Fiesta Señor 2024 celebrations, emergency lanes have been set up in certain areas inside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.
This is to urgently address emergency situations, according to Fr. John Ion Miranda, one of the Augustinian friars of the Basilica.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, a day before the first day of the Novena Masses, Miranda said new emergency lanes are located under the bleachers, colored with yellow paint and marked with words.
Miranda, the secretariat of safety, security, peace, and order for the Fiesta Señor 2024, said the newly installed lanes were set up last December and were first used during the Misa de Gallo, or the nine-day early dawn masses leading up to Christmas Day, which commenced on December 16, 2023.
Aside from the newly installed lanes, Miranda said the usual emergency lane, separated with ropes and located in front of the facade of the main building of the Basilica, will still be reinforced.
Fr. Genesis Labana, director of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, confirmed to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, January 10, that the old emergency lanes in front of the Church have been in place and functional since around 2017.
Miranda said these emergency lanes will serve as passageways for easy response from both in-house and partner medical officers in times of emergency response.
"It is located below the bleachers going out for easy access of an ambulance because in front (P. Burgos St.) there are ambulances and medics," he said.
The priest said they will strictly prohibit mass-goers from staying inside the emergency lanes so that there will be no obstructions during emergency responses.
He added that the clinic, situated between the choir area and candle lighting area, will not be functional, only the identified medical stations.
He added that they have also installed six medical stations strategically placed in different areas of the Basilica compound.
Miranda added that there will be emergency spotters, or individuals focusing on observing the crowd for people needing medical help during the Novena masses.
He said these are mostly officers from the Red Cross and medical volunteers from schools and universities, and other medical groups.
Safe, orderly, and solemn
Miranda said that while he deems they are already ready, they are still preparing for the official start of the Fiesta Señor on Thursday, January 11, which kicked off with a penitential Walk with Jesus foot procession.
"Together with the police forces and other security forces of the government, we try to achieve a peaceful, orderly, and solemn procession [this early dawn]," he added.
After the Walk with Jesus foot procession, signifying the start of the religious activities, a series of nine-day Masses will happen inside the Basilica.
The novena will end on January 19 with a Walk with Mary at 4 a.m. and the Misa de Traslacion at 5 a.m.
The Traslacion, transporting the image of the Señor Sto. Niño to Mandaue City, starts at 6:45 a.m. on the same day, followed by another Traslacion to Lapu-Lapu City commencing at midnight.
On January 20, a seaborne procession from Lapu-Lapu City is scheduled for 6 a.m. There will be a traditional solemn foot procession at 1 p.m., followed by a reenactment of the first mass, baptism, and wedding. A solemn foot procession will also happen on the Visperas Day on Saturday afternoon.
The Fiesta Señor, deeply rooted in religious traditions, is an annual event celebrated in Cebu to honor the Holy Child Jesus. It will be celebrated on the Feast Day on January 21. (KJF)