Total ban on balloons to be implemented at the Basilica del Santo Niño
For the past six years, the Augustinian fathers of the Basilica del Sto. Niño in Cebu City have repeatedly appealed to devotees of the Child Jesus to stop releasing balloons in the air, saying it is harmful to the environmental and had caused several power interruptions.
The plea fell on deaf ears.
In 2018, the basilica will strictly enforce a total ban on balloons at the church’s courtyard.
“We have given the go signals for the security guards to confiscate all balloons at the entrance gates of the basilica,” said Fr. Aladdin Luzon, OSA, head of the Fiesta Señor 2018 peace and order committee, in a press conference at the basilica’s convent sala on Thursday.
Balloon vendors, he said, are not allowed inside the basilica.
Devotees are also discouraged from using balloons during the foot and fluvial processions.
For several years, the release of balloons in the air during the feast of the Sto. Niño has been a popular gesture of lifting prayers to heaven.
The Augustinian fathers, the caretakers of the basilica and the image of the child Jesus, want the practice to stop, teaching devotees the proper way of expressing their faith.
In 2014, the Augustinian fathers of the basilica prohibited the sale of balloons at the church compound during the Fiesta Señor celebration in response to the call of environment advocates who said balloons that end up in the sea are eaten by marine animals like whales and dolphins, who mistake them for food.
The synthetic material ends up in their stomachs undigested, causing the animals’ death.
Also, balloons released into the air can cause power interruptions, Luzon said.
Some power transformers near the basilica exploded when they were hit by flying balloons. It caused a temporary power outage.
“We want to remind people that the Fiesta Señor is not just about balloons or revelries. We also have to consider the effects of whatever we on others and the environment,” Luzon explained.
The Fiesta Senor 2018 officially starts on January 11 with the annual “Walk with Jesus”, a penitential foot procession from Fuente Osmeña to the basilica at 4 a.m.
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