If the coronavirus (COVID-19) was not around, shortly after the new year, the festive vibe would have been evident, as streets would have been decorated with multi-colored buntings and life-size streamers take over the sight along the Sinulog Parade Route along Mango Avenue.
Students in village schools would have intensive practices as they perfect their choreography and artists would have been cooped up trying to create higantes.
This would have been how Cebu celebrated the Fiesta Señor. Noisy and fun-Sinulog. Loud enough so neighboring cities and provinces would join in the revelry.
But this year due to health and safety precautions, the Cebu City government and the Sinulog Foundation Incorporated have decided to postpone the ritual showdown, which later turned into a virtual ritual showdown and was then later canceled.
The postponement of religious activities including the Penitential Walk with Jesus, Penitential Walk with Mary, the Traslacion, the Fluvial Procession, and the Reenactment of the first baptism, the planting of the cross and the first wedding, the Solemn Foot Procession, and the proposed Cebu Provincial Pilgrimages and later, the cancellation of physical Masses came amid a post-holiday spike of COVID-19 cases in the city with more than 100 cases in a single week.
Numbers that were not seen since the city was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) last September.
“Is there anything left for the Sinulog?” a question most Cebuanos might consider after nearly all events have been canceled if not aired virtually.
Closer to Sto. Niño
While the revelries might surely be missed due to the effects of the pandemic, one thing we may have overlooked is our deeper connection to the divine— the Señor Sto. Niño.
We may have been miles apart, or physically distant but one thing is for sure, our love and devotion to the Child Jesus have not withered.
There is a negative connotation when we speak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the situation we are in right now may also serve as the “Bato Balani” or the magnet that will draw us even more close to him.
During the onset of the physical Masses, Cebuanos continue to sacrifice their time to be one with the Child Jesus, offering their petition and prayers, and seek guidance as they embark on their day to day lives.
Though socially distant, the devotion and our love for the Sto Niño is manifested at the grounds of the pilgrim center with devotees braving the heat or rains.
When physical Masses were canceled in lieu of health and safety protocols, a vast majority of Cebuanos also shifted to attending online Masses.
Others have set their mobile device as miniature screens while viewing the online Mass outside the pilgrim center.
This is Cebuano resiliency, rising from the tides as we hope for better days ahead.
The celebration of the Fiesta Señor might be something new for us this year, our intentions remain the same — though we are apart, our strong faith in the Holy Child brings us even closer to the lord as we live peacefully and harmoniously with one another.
Although we look forward to the festivities in the coming year, let us be reminded that we are celebrating in honor of the Child Jesus represented by the miraculous image letting our faith be the bond that keeps us moving forward from these uncertain times.
Your reliable partner, Primary Homes Inc., joins the Cebuano community in celebrating the feast of the Señor Santo Niño and we will see you again when things get better.