Editorial: Live your faith

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

THE 3.5 million joining the Jan. 18 Grand Procession may see the hours devoted to complete the route as sacrifice, thanksgiving and petition offered to the Patron of Cebu, Señor Sto. Niño.

Yet one can also view the walk as a marathon to test how every participant’s piety translates into self-discipline, community consciousness and respect for the environment.

As reported by Sun.Star Cebu’s Davinci S. Maru, Justin K. Vestil and Oscar C. Pineda last Jan. 18, the Grand Procession began when the image of the Holy Infant left the Basilica at 1 p.m. Devotees followed its image or lined up along the route that snaked for more than five hours from Osmeña Blvd. to D. Jakosalem St., Magallanes St., Borromeo St., Sanciangko St., Panganiban St., N. Bacalso Ave., V. Rama Ave. and B. Rodriguez St. before returning to the Basilica by way of Osmeña Blvd.



On Facebook were many posts from devotees who claimed they walked and stood for eight hours to complete the procession and hear the mass that followed.

It would even be better if every participant can say that he or she behaved in an exemplary way, both as a devotee and as a citizen, while worshipping.

While the Sto. Niño Grand Procession is distinguishable from the Black Nazarene procession for being orderly and peaceful, this year’s observance can still be enhanced by a greater concern for community and environment in coming celebrations.

As the procession progressed in its circuitous route, the self-restraint of devotees, vendors and other participants slipped. Several students acting as marshals holding the line demarcating the street and the sidewalk abandoned their posts. Vendors hawking water and food, previously kept at the side by the cordon, intermingled with those in the procession, hampering movement.

Walking for hours, devotees slaked their hunger and thirst but many chose to just dump their waste on the street or sidewalk. Water receptacles, peanut hulls, corn cobs and food wrappers began to cover the processional route,starting at Magallanes St.

Although the water receptacles were collected for selling, the bulk of the litter lay along the route, eyesores that neither attested to piety nor civic responsibility.

Included in the carelessly discarded trash were the cardboard squares sold with candles. Candle vendors included the cardboard, which protects the hand from dripping wax. However, the cardboard makes the unlit candle awkward to carry; many devotees removed and dropped the cardboard squares on the street.

Fruit peel or water receptacles lying on the street hamper mobility, as well as trip procession participants, which include children, the elderly and the disabled.

Good deeds

The disconnection between devotion to the Holy Infant and civic lapses challenges the faithful every Sinulog.

No other event comes close to the January fiesta in attracting and coalescing a massive number of people in Cebu City. While Cebuanos can take pride in the maturation of faith and culture with every Sinulog, another standard to aspire for is the manifestation of civic consciousness in pursuing the devotion to the Sto. Niño.

Parishioners must review traditions in light of their appropriateness, specifically the impact to the environment. In novena homilies over the years, the faithful were advised not to set off fireworks to “honor” the passage of the Holy Infant’s image past their homes or establishments.

This year, some still disregarded this rule, risking the safety of procession participants.

Another rite resistant to change is the practice of releasing balloons in the belief that one’s petition can better attain divine attention. Deflated balloons often end in the sea or waterways, where fish and turtles ingest them and starve, unable to swallow, dive and swim away. When the balloons end on land, their materials degrade only after six months.

The will power devotees show in joining the Grand Procession, rain or shine, can be harnessed in service of humanity and nature. Many participants were ready with snacks, water and trash bags to hold their fruit peel, sandwich bags and other waste. These citizens cleaned as they went, saving street cleaners from unnecessary work and avoiding the improper disposal of trash that clogs canals and causes floods.

Food vendors should also use paper bags or cartons, as well as hang a trash bag near their stalls to encourage their customers to properly dispose their waste.

Devotion to the Sto. Niño is essential to Cebu and being Cebuano. But as exhorted by their leaders, living the faith calls for a deeper understanding and more sustainable expression of fervor.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 20, 2014.


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