Fainting spells, VIP presence mark opening Mass
HAVING spent seven years doing missionary work in Hong Kong, Sister Vicky Ramos couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, her very first IEC.
Originally from Pasig City, the 66-year-old religious said she wanted to make Jesus known to the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) community in Hong Kong through the Eucharist.
“Particularly, I want to be a hope for the overseas workers in Hong Kong, since they have a lot of problems. It also affects their relationship with their families and their employers,” she said.
But as it turned out, Sister Vicky was unable to hear the rest of the opening Mass at the Plaza Independencia when she nearly fainted from the afternoon’s extreme heat.
As she held a cold compress to her head and sipped from a bottle of mineral water, Sister Vicky said she arrived in Cebu from Hong Kong at past noon yesterday and just dropped off her things at a relative’s home in barangay Talamban to attend the IEC opening Mass.
When she left Hong Kong, the temperature there was three degrees Celsius.
She has been suffering from a cold while still in Hong Kong but insisted on attending the IEC opening Mass. She hasn’t even claimed her ID and kit yet.
Sister Vicky said she really wanted to attend the catechesis on “The Eucharist as Mission, Mission as Dialogue” in order to expand her understanding and so better impart what she has learnt with the Filipino community in Hong Kong.
Dr. Alex Junia, one of the volunteers who responded to Sister Vicky, said she suffered from heat exhaustion that could have worsened to heatstroke due to the sudden change in temperature.
About 350,000 people attended yesterday’s opening Mass at the Plaza Independencia. Aside from delegates and guests, several officials were also seen during the activity.
Vice President Jejomar Binay attended the Mass with his son, dismissed Makati City mayor Junjun Binay.
They only attended the Mass and received Holy Communion then immediately left the venue.
Just last week, Binay and other candidates under the United Nationalist Alliance were booed by the crowd that attended the opening of Sinulog Grand Parade at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, an ally, said Binay dropped by Cebu.
“I knew about his visit. He came from Bohol and just dropped by here. We weren’t able to talk personally. I had to go to because of a fire incident. When I came back, he had already left,” Rama said.
Rama also attended the Mass but had to leave because of a fire that broke out in barangay Duljo Fatima.
Aside from the Binays and Rama, Acting City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archival Sr. also attended the Mass and offered the bread and wine during the offertory.
The plaza was packed to overflowing with attendees that Cebu City residents like 64-year-old Evangeline Fulminar and her blind 19-year-old niece Jam Mariel Pasculado had to content themselves with listening to the Mass outside.
“We attended because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that Cebu is hosting the event. The next time we may not be able to see it,” she told Cebu Daily News.
A member of the Handmaids of the Lord, an umbrella organization for Couples for Christ, Fulminar usually brings along her niece since no one would be left at home to take care of her.
“Dili raman kapoy, kay ganahan man sad ko mukuyog (It is not really tiring, I really want to go with my auntie),” Pasculado, a student at Cebu Normal University (CNU), said.
She said she was glad and inspired to learn that Catherine Unger, a blind teacher from Mandaue City read one of the readings during the opening Mass.
Those who were unable to go inside the plaza had to turn on their cell phone’s radio app to listen to the homily.
The faithful brought folding chairs to hear the Mass that lasted more than an hour.
Jonathan Tumulak, operations chief of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO), said at least 100 traffic enforcers were monitoring the area.
“At first, we disallowed vehicles on the roads surrounding the plaza then banned vehicles from the next street going to the area,” Tumulak said.
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