Balloons still off limits inside Basilica
CEBU CITY, Philippines –As it was in the past eight years, balloons shall be prohibited inside the complex of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City as well as during the fluvial and foot processions.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, OSA, head of the Fiesta Señor 2019 peace and order committee, said they would strictly enforce a total ban on balloons at the church’s courtyard in response to concerns raised by environment advocates who said the synthetic material could end up in the sea and eaten by marine animals like whales and dolphins, who mistake them for food, causing their death.
“Those bringing balloons will not be allowed entry inside the basilica complex,” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Security guards at the Basilica are granted authority to confiscate or deflate the balloons at the entrance gates.
Nagiel Bañacia, chief of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO), said balloons released into the air caused power interruptions after some transformers near the Basilica exploded when hit by flying balloons that contained helium.
“We will help confiscate balloons. Gone are the days when we used balloons (during the Fiesta Señor). Balloons are risky and we’ll strictly prohibit people from using them,” he explained.
Aside from balloons, people are also prohibited by the CCDRRMO from setting off firecrackers or pyrotechnics, bringing liquor, backpacks, glass bottles, and loud speakers to the Basilica.
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./rcg
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