Solemn procession: Devotion, faith to Santo Niño help devotees endure heat, 6 km walk
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Devotees endured the afternoon heat, the six kilometer walk, and the signal shut-off during the Solemn Foot Procession of the image of Señor Santo Niño on Saturday afternoon, January 18, 2020.
According to estimates from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), that devotees, who joined the procession, reached from 2.3 million to 3 million.
The CCPO said that these estimates were taken from the number of people in the 6 kilometer route of the procession.
The Solemn Foot Procession started when the image of the Señor Santo Niño on a carroza was brought outside the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño at 1:09 p.m. and it returned after travelling through the six-kilometer procession route in Cebu City at 5:22 p.m. or nearly four-and-a-half hours later.
Devotees, devotion, weather
The devotees endured the heat of the afternoon sun, which reached a peak of 32 degree Celsius according to AccuWeather.com as they raised their own replicas of the Holy Child to the tune of Bato Balani sa Gugma, which was played through large speakers along the road.
“The procession was solemn and peaceful. Even though init ang panahon, wa jud katarug ang ka init tungod sa dako namong devotion/pagtuo kay Señor Santo Niño. Okay kaayo ang flow sa procession kay na control ra jud ug tarung ang devotees,” said Ascher Medel, 23, of Alcoy town in southern Cebu.
(The procession was solemn and peaceful. Even though it was a really hot afternoon, this did not faze me because of my strong faith and devotion to the Señor Santo Niño. The flow of the procession was orderly because the authorities manage to control the devotees.)
Medel was with his family during the procession and aside from his devotion he was also praying for his family.
“Ang akong gipangayo kang Señor Santo Niño, hinaut unta tagaan ko niyag maayong pang lawas og sa tibuok namong pamilya. Safety sa among pamilya ug financial stability and lastly world peace,” said Medel, saying that these petitions also helped him to endure the heat and sacrifice in joining the procession.
(I am asking the Señor Santo Niño to grant them good health for his whole family. Safety of the family and financial stability. He was also praying for world peace.)
Medel said he and his family had been joining the procession since 2008.
While Medel and his family, walked under the heat of the sun, a family from Guadalupe waited at the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda for the procession to pass in the area.
And they were ready for any change of weather as they brought along a beach umbrella.
“Guadalupe mi gikan. Andam na lang mig dako para sa init or uwan (We are from Guadalupe and we are ready for the heat or even rain),” one of the members of the family from Guadalupe told CDN Digital.
Aside from the beach umbrella, they also brought along a stroller where they placed their images of the Señor Santo Niño and the Virgin Mary.
Another devotee, Robert Mayson, 33, a self-employed entrepreneur, from Mandaue City, said that the number of devotees joining the procession had grown since he joined the procession in 2013, and he had never been intimidated by the big crowd joining the religious activity.
“The crowd never intimidated me. It did not affect my motivation in anyway possible because I’m a believer that nothing can stir a deep-rooted devotion and faith,” Mayson told Cebu Daily News Digital in an interview.
Mayson was ready for the weather during the procession as he brought his umbrella and a plastic bottle of water.
Aside from not being intimidated by the crowd, he said that the heat also did not bother him during the procession.
“It’s always a given that you either endure the heat or the rains. That’s why I’ll just have to anticipate and prepare for them,” he added.
Despite the narrow roads, a larger crowd, Mayson said the procession for this year’s Fiesta Señor celebration was more orderly.
“It ended on time and there were only minor bumps along the way,” he said in Cebuano.
And not even the signal shut-off stopped people from recording the solemn event with their mobile phones from the procession’s sidelines.
For another devotee, Hyacinth Catulpo, 23, a teacher from Dalaguete town in southern Cebu, the signal shutoff was preferable as compared to last year.
“Para nako kay okay kaayo ang sched na shutdown unlike last year nga total shutdown for the whole day. Wala juy communications mahitabo. Lisod kung naay emergency mahitabo within sa family or anywhere else. Pero considering sa safety sa crowd, I can understand and do a little sacrifice, Catulpo said.
(For me, the schedule of the signal shutdown was better unlike last year which was a total shutdown for the whole day. There was no communication. It was difficult if there was an emergency within the family or anywhere else. But considering the safety of the crowd, I can understand and do a little sacrifice.)
She said that she was praying for good health and peace of mind and guidance from the Santo Niño.
Meanwhile, police said that the solemn procession was peaceful and successful.
Police Colonel Roderick Mariano, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), said there were no major incidents reported during the four-hour procession which covered Fuente Osmeña Circle, D. Jakosalem Street, Osmeña Boulevard, Leon Kilat Street, J. Alcantara Street, V. Rama Avenue, B. Rodriguez Street, Junquera Street, and Mabini Street.
“There were no major mishaps that occurred during the procession,” Mariano told reporters in a press interview.
Mariano led the at least 400 policemen who secured the 20-foot carroza carrying the image of Señor Santo Niño as well as the roads, particularly intersections, covered by the procession.
There were several times when the procession came to a halt, mostly when police and volunteers had to disperse the large crowd blocking the carroza’s path.
However, Mariano said these were manageable, and did not directly affect the procession.
“There were definitely areas where the crowd was really large — like in Fuente Osmeña Circle and Osmeña Boulevard, and we have to pause there just to clear the road, but it did not take long. Just a few minutes — maybe no more than 10 minutes,” he added.
The procession first traversed through portions of D. Jakosalem Street that lead to Colon Street. It then turned left to Leon Kilat Street before proceeding to J. Alcantara Street, V. Rama Avenue, B. Rodriguez Street, and Fuente Osmeña Circle.
From Fuente Osmeña Circle, the procession made its way back to the Basilica through Osmeña Boulevard, then turn left to P. Del Rosario Street. From P. Del Rosario Street, it turned right to Junquera Street straight towards Colon Street.
Then it made another right turn to Mabini Street before arriving at the corner of D. Jakosalem Street and Osmeña Boulevard where the Basilica is located.
The foot procession has been a tradition during the Fiesta Señor celebration where the image of the Holy Child is brought out of the Basilica, and is transported around some areas in Cebu City for the public to venerate. /dbs
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