Editorial: With calamities as backdrop

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Friday, January 10, 2014

THE Sto. Niño de Cebu fiesta officially started yesterday with a penitential procession that drew in thousands of people even if it rained heavily before the activity started.

Fiesta activities have always been crowd-drawers. What makes this year’s festivity interesting for observers is that it is being held immediately after the two major calamities hit Cebu. The question needing an answer is whether attendance would be affected by what happened.

It is in this context that Basilica del Sto. Niño priests used the theme for this year’s festivities, “Senior Sto. Niño, Hope of the People.


Fr. Jonas Mejares, rector of the Basilica, explained the theme this way during a press conference: Kun ang 2013 usa ka tuig sa pagsuway, ang 2014 maoy tuig sa paglaum. Sto. Niño is, indeed, the hope of the people.

The priests will expand that explanation during the nine-day novena masses, which was also ushered in yesterday, with the old church whose belfry was damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol in October last year still closed to churchgoers.

One can feel, however, that if the two calamities that hit Cebu late last year were to affect the fiesta celebration, it would be in a positive light. Calamities bring into focus again our mortality. That usually prods people to seek refuge in religion to drive away the fears.

Expect, therefore, the crowd in various fiesta activities to swell.

As for the cultural aspect of the celebration that will culminate in the Sinulog Grand Parade next Sunday, the effect would be in the number of contingents that will participate in the dance competition.

We will be missing, for example, some contingents from areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, like those from Leyte and the northern tip of Cebu. They are still recovering from the effects of the super typhoon and won’t be available for the celebration.

One thing is sure, though: they will be in the fiesta goers’ prayers.

Like what happened during the Christmas season, the celebration of the feast of the Holy Child will go on even if the effects of the two calamities are still being felt by Cebuanos. But it will temper the merriment.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2014.


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