Fiesta procession draws 15T

Jujemay G. Awit
Sun.Star Staff Reporter

SOME 15,000 people braved the rains to join the procession that started the celebration of the feast of the Señor Sto. Niño and the nine-day novena.

The procession started at 4:30 a.m. in the assembly area at Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.

Hundreds of policemen were scattered at designated areas to secure the route, which covered the stretch of Osmeña Blvd.

Devotees were supposed to bring only rosaries, candles and statues of the Señor Sto. Niño, but the rain added more color to the “Walk with Jesus,” in the hundreds of umbrellas unfurled.

Pilgrims

Their arrival at the basilica was intermittent, with many still out on the streets when the first mass of the Fiesta Señor began at 5:30 a.m.

Although it is the Sinulog Festival’s street dancing and party atmosphere that’s often mentioned to attract tourists, thousands come to Cebu in January for the religious festivities.

Thursday’s crowd filled the pilgrim center as well as the basilica, where pews were rotated so that these faced the altar of the pilgrim center, where basilica rector Rev. Fr. Andrew Batayola officiated the mass.

Batayola’s homily centered on miracles. He preached that miracles happen because of Jesus’ love for the people, although some cannot feel the presence of God because of poverty and other social ills.

Life’s miracles open the people’s eyes to God’s love for us, the priest added.

Despite the loss of her husband, devotee Amelina Dizon still feels that same love from the Sto. Niño that Batayola spoke of.

Daily ritual 

Sun.Star Cebu chanced upon Dizon at the basilica. She is the widow of slain photographer Allan Dizon of The Freeman, who was gunned down on Nov. 27, 2004.

Amelina said she has never lost faith in the Child Jesus and vowed to hear the daily novena mass at the basilica. After all, she is used to hearing mass there everyday.

She told Sun.Star that she and Kyla, her daughter with Allan, used to be very sickly. But they have gotten better since she began her devotion to the Sto. Niño.

Many devotees who joined the procession and heard the mass brought along statues of the Child Jesus.

Pledge

Loreta Taligon, a 39-year-old housewife, was carrying her 20-inch Sto. Niñong Palaboy or the Vagabond Holy Child. She said she made a pledge to join the procession and carry the heavy statue.

Cresencia Fajardo Mac, 58, made a similar pledge. The businesswoman had with her a three-foot Sto. Niño de Lagalag, placed in a baby carrier.

She also dressed up her Sto. Niño with clothes that she had made. “I do this because of my love for the Sto. Niño,” Mac said.

Fidela Abapo, 51, was holding a Sto. Niño de Cebu.

“Tulomanon gyud ni nako kada tuig, mga 10 years na gyud ni (This has been my obligation for the past 10 years),” she said.

Her friend Rebecca Sagarino, 48, carried a Sto. Niño de Manila, which has been in her possession for more than 20 years.

“Nag-ampo ko ni Sto. Niño na tagaan unta ako ug ang akong pamilya og maayong panglawas (I’m praying to Sto. Niño to give me and my family good health),” she said.

The procession was peaceful, with not a single crime or accident reported to the Police Assistance Unit stationed inside the basilica.

3 comments

  1. jesse rl says:

    I’m not really a religious person so to speak but somehow when I danced the sinulog (my first time) together with my co-teachers in the basilica january of last year (with good intentions, prayers and wishes in my heart), my dream came true – that to be able to go abroad without costing me fortune (for free). Is it mere coincidence? I still believe faith work wonders.

  2. jesse rl says:

    and yes, completing the nine day novena mass (my first time again) especially the simbang gabi. I did all these putting my heart into it without reservation (unconditionally). Indeed, I really enjoyed every minute while doing these. Up until this time, I’m stunned couldn’t understand the mysteries of it all.

  3. paul says:

    The essence of all the celebration is one’s faith and adoration to the Holy Child and the sacrifices they make for their love and devotion to Him. I remember the first time I joined the long procession when I was in my first year in High School. Our school joined the procession and despite the long route, it was an experience worth remembering because you get to join the procession with the rest of the devotees. If there’s a song about leaving one’s heart in San Francisco, I left mine in Cebu. A true Cebuano will always hear the Sto. Niño’s call to go back to his roots and celebrate His feast. I will go back soon, fiesta or not. Pit Señor!

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