At least 1.2M turn up, but keep ritual solemn

AN estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million joined the solemn procession in honor of the Sto. Niño, but except for a brief stampede outside the Basilica’s gates, no disruptions marred the ritual.

The crowd was so huge that the lead pack already arrived back in the basilica before those in the tail end could even start walking.

“There was a gap of about 45 minutes before those at the tail of the procession started to walk,” said Cebu City Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador. (more photos)

In his homily, Bishop John Du expressed dismay over reports that a contract to end another’s life can now cost as little as P5,000.

“Dili kita makasabot kon nganong adunay tawo nga manuhol aron dunay patyon. Apan alaot kanang tawo nga nahaylo lang sa P5,000,” Du said.

Last Oct. 21, PO2 Jose Clint Canete was shot dead on the old Mactan-Mandaue bridge after attending a court hearing of a suspected drug trader he had arrested in Lapu-Lapu City. The driver of the motorcycle that ambushed Canete later admitted they were paid P5,000 to kill Canete.

Discussing “growth in the grace of God” as this year’s theme, Du said people should learn to accept God’s forgiveness for their sins by not committing them again.

The difficulties that many Filipinos suffer, he blamed on greed—“mga tawo nga dawo ug wala’y konsensya ug gipanalipdan sa kadagkoan (the greedy ones who fail to heed their conscience and are shielded by their powerful friends)).”

The religious festivity ends this morning with a mass celebrated by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Traditionally one of the most well-attended events in the annual fiesta, the mass is also expected to draw thousands.

Comendador said the estimated attendance in Saturday’s processions included those that later filled the Pilgrim Center for the mass and the ones who stayed along the procession route, waving when the image of the Holy Child was wheeled past them.

Senior Insp. David Señor, the designated ground commander, said the lead pack arrived back in church at 3:10 p.m., while the tail left the basilica at 4:10 p.m.

Reunited

Interviewed separately, Comendador and Señor said there was no major incident during the procession, though several children were lost but soon reunited with their parents.

Only a few people were observed to have lighted firecrackers during the procession, unlike in previous years.
Two women nearly fainted, and a male police intern and a civilian lost their valuables in a short stampede at the gate of the basilica when people tried to break through the human cordon and approach the carroza.
This happened before the image of the Señor Sto. Nino could be taken out of its protective glass case and brought back inside the church.

It was the first time that something like this happened, but Bishop John Du described the procession in his homily as successful and orderly.

Part of the 550 soldiers, reservists, police interns and security guards surrounded the carroza as it was positioned in front of the “puerta mayor”—the church’s door where the image exits at the start and reenters at the end of the procession.

Overpowered

That left only six civilian guards holding the steel gate.

Other members of the human cordon were outside and briefly put down the cord that they used to keep people from the carroza, giving the devotees a chance to rush in. Security personnel lifted the cord back when they noticed the break-in, but it was too late because the people were already four steps behind the gate.

Some people, including police interns and ROTC cadets, fell to the ground during the struggle. Two women who nearly fainted were led by members of the Parish Security Group (PSG) to the first aid station.

Marlyn Colena said that when she fell, the cord choked her around the neck. As she struggled to stand up, someone grabbed her shoulder bag that contained P3,000 and a mobile phone.

Kenneth Abangan, a University of the Visayas police intern, lost his digital camera and did not notice when it was fished out of his pocket, because all his attention was on stopping people from getting inside.

Saturday’s procession marked the 443rd year since the image was found in Cebu.

Regular

As Bishop Julito Cortes emerged from the puerta mayor at 1:37 p.m. with the images, devotees in the Pilgrim Center and those outside sang “Bato balani sa Gugma” and waved.

Members of the Parish Pastoral Council started moving the carroza outside the church at 1:48 p.m. while the bell rang. The procession ended at 5:23 p.m. and a mass immediately followed.

Over 100 people who nearly fainted or suffered from high blood pressure sought relief from the first aid center inside the Basilica compound manned by the Talisay Rescue Emergency Assistance Team (Treat).

When the procession was about the start, security guards had to pacify 78-year-old Julian Bacus, who introduced himself as a former security officer of the Basilica during every fiesta celebration. Despite his arthritis, he insisted on walking near the lead carroza.

He said he worked at the church since he was 24. Because he believed it was the Sto. Nino that saved him from three strokes, he never missed the procession, even if he increasingly found it difficult to walk. (AIV/JST/Sun.Star Cebu)

3 comments

  1. […] See story here. […]

  2. jopjop says:

    nice thank you…

  3. VIVA PIT SENIOR.VIVA SENIOR STO.NINO VIVA.GIKAN SA MGA IT BISDAK DIRI SA IBRA OMAN.Namely:Narciso,Homer,Edsel,Rolando and Arnold.Were amazed coz we can watch the sinulog live in this website.Very nice Sunstar.

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