Cebu City—President Rodrigo Duterte celebrated the Sinulog 2020 festival with Cebuanos on Sunday, arriving at the Cebu City Sports Center at 4 p.m. to witness the ritual showdown of the different competing contingents in the annual cultural and religious festival and the center of the Santo Niño Catholic celebrations in the country.
President Duterte was welcomed by Secretary Michael Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas and Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella, among other officials, as he joined thousands of revelers in celebrating one of the most grandiose festivals in the country.
Duterte spoke inside the CCSC before the guest contingent from the Cebu Provincial Government led by Governor Gwen Garcia.
The President’s visit came after Mayor Labella sent him a personal invitation to attend the Sinulog earlier this month, to which Duterte—the longtime Davao City mayor whose father hails from Cebu province—responded positively.
Sinulog is on its 40th year this year with 31 dancing contingents from Cebu City, Cebu Province and other out-of-town delegations. Of the 31 contingents, eight are out-of-town, seven are from the province, and 16 from the city. Last year, only 27 contingents joined the Sinulog.
On Saturday, about three million devotees of the Child Jesus joined the solemn foot procession of the miraculous image of Sto. Niño on the vesper of the 455th Fiesta Señor.
The devotees indulged in a 6.5-kilometer walk along the stretches of major thoroughfares in the city center’s downtown and uptown areas.
Col. Engelbert Soriano, officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office, said the solemn procession was generally peaceful and successfully conducted.
Lt. Col. Rowel Gavilanes, director of the 701st Community Defense Center of the Army Reserve Command that supervised Army reservists securing the passageways of the Sto. Niño image carroza, said the devotees were cooperative to the crowd control personnel.
“Generally, the procession started and ended smoothly,” he said.
The Army reservists manned the Osmeña Boulevard close to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño to control the ingress and egress of the churchgoers during the foot procession.
They also barricaded the corner of Colon and D. Jakosalem Streets to ensure the way of the carroza back to the Basilica after the procession.
Despite the signal shutdown, uniformed police personnel deployed by the CCPO to secure the procession route were able to coordinate with the Basilica’s Augustinian friars, the Army reservists, ROTC cadets, and paramedical personnel due to different volunteer radio communicator groups who made their services available.
As the Sto. Niño image emerged from the frontgate of the Basilica and marked the start of the foot procession, the devotees at the pilgrim center recited all the mysteries of the Holy Rosary in different Filipino dialect and foreign languages.
In between mysteries, the devotees sang the Bato Balani sa Gugma (Magnet of Love) while waving their hands or Holy Child images in different sizes that they carried with them while pacing through the beat of the drums and praying the rosary broadcasted in sound boxes spread on the street-sides.
Local radio stations here aired live the coverage of the foot procession.
From the Basilica, the procession went off along the Osmeña Boulevard and turned left at the Colon up to Leon Milat Streets, then entered J. Alcantara Street traversing V. Rama Avenue then to B. Rodriguez Street and proceeded to the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda.
From the Fuente Osmeña, the devotees proceeded through Osmeña Boulevard then took Junquera Street before taking a hard left towards Colon Street and went back to the Basilica via D. Jakosalem Street.
Before the procession, the image of the Holy Child Jesus and the Our Lady of Guadalupe were venerated by over 40,000 devotees who witnessed the Sinulog 2020 fluvial procession on Saturday dawn.
As the Galleon that carried the images at her hull sailed by the Mactan Channel, Spanish colonial soldiers-clad guards stood at attention as unending sound of sirens were heard from all over the waterfront.
Upon its arrival at the Pier 1, the devotees welcomed the Sto. Niño image and paraded it towards the Basilica to be readied for the afternoon’s foot procession.
The fiesta’s vesper mass celebrated by Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Midyphil Billones was centered on Sto. Niño “as a magnet of love and hope.”
“This is the theological core of the conviction of the mystery, of the incarnation, to the mystery of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. As an act of love, that crib that leads us to the cross, Bethlehem that leads to Calvary and the Sr. Sto Niño is one and the same Christ Jesus of Nazarene,” Billones said in his homily during the 6 p.m. mass.
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