Stronger Cebuano devotion despite a different Sinulog

By: - January 16, 2021

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.

These are the streets where throngs of spectators and a carousel of contingents would have filled in time of the Sinulog Grand Parade, sharing moments of awe and loud applauses. Though we surely miss the lively party and crowd of the grandest festival in the Queen City of the South, this year’s solemn celebration of the Sinulog reminds us the true meaning of the event — the Cebuano’s love and faith towards the Holy Child Jesus.

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.

These grounds witnessed tears, sweat, and laughter of the best performances in the past years. So many milestones were celebrated and enjoyed by thousands of Cebuanos and spectators from all over the world at the Cebu City Sports Center, formerly called Abellana Sports Complex. With the Sinulog Grand Parade placed on a halt for this year, we will surely miss the colorful costumes, outstanding performances, and the many emotions that the superb event made us feel. No matter how simple our celebrations are for this year, let us remember that our prayers and heartfelt intentions to the Señor Sto. Niño is more than enough. Let us all remain safe at home.

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.

Far from the usual sea of devotees in the past years, this scene at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu is a proof of the Cebuano’s strong faith and belief. The faithful brave the heat as they practice social distancing with a limited number of devotees at the Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center. Even in the time of pandemic, this did not stop them to celebrate while following strict health protocols and guidelines of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu to ensure a safe and secure celebration of the Fiesta Señor 2021.

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.

Our faith truly gives light not just in our life but in our relationships with one another. For the sixth day of the Novena Masses, a couple stood patiently and watched the online mass on their mobile phone outside the Pilgrim Center of Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu to show their undying love and faith to the Holy Child Jesus. Like their devotion, the couple believes that their faith will keep them together no matter what for they will always be blessed by the Señor Sto. Niño.

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. 

Even in the new normal, we see how Cebuanos come together in a celebration of faith and belief. Devotees of the Señor Sto. Niño attend the first day of Novena Masses at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. Your reliable partner, Primary Homes Inc. joins the Cebuano community in celebrating the feast of the Señor Santo Niño.

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.


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