Sinulog festival gets underway in Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Devotees kicked off celebrations of the feast of the Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu on its eve Saturday with a colorful, albeit shortened and somewhat unruly, fluvial parade on Mactan Channel.
Dozens of bancas (outrigger boats), barges and cruise ships packed with devotees escorted the MV Santo Niño de Cebu, a galleon replica, bearing an image of the Child Jesus that was blessed by Blessed John Paul II.
Also on the main boat, which was supposed to be the procession’s lead vessel but was overtaken by many others, was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Cebu.
The fluvial parade started at about 7 a.m. from the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City and ended two hours later at Pier 1 in the Port of Cebu across the channel from Mactan Island. It was preceded by a Mass and foot procession that carried the statues from the Saint Joseph Church in Mandaue City to the Ouano Wharf.
The devotees at sea were led by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, both of whom danced the Sinulog carrying another image of the Sto. Niño.
Thousands more watched the procession from the shore or from ships docked in the piers. They waved and honked horns as the image of the Santo Niño passed them by. Some set off firecrackers. There were also dance contingents in costumes paying homage to the Sto. Niño
The vessel with the icons of the Santo Niño and the Virgin Mary were escorted by the clergy and several men dressed as Spanish sailors. A foot procession from the Cebu port area bore the images to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño for a Mass that featured a reenactment of the first Mass and Baptism in Cebu in 1521.
On that occasion, the original images of the Sto. Niño and the Virgin Mary were given by Ferdinand Magellan and Augustinian missionaries to Cebu’s King Humabon and Queen Humahay, who were christened Carlo and Juana.
The authorities had to cut short the route of the fluvial parade as many vessels that had not been properly certified joined the procession without registering with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
The fluvial procession was supposed to go as far south as Cebu City’s Pasil district before making a u-turn and heading back and docking at Pier 1.
The procession, however, went only as far as Pier 1, half a nautical mile or close to one kilometer short of the original route.
Cmdr. Rolando Punzalan, Cebu Coast Guard station head, explained that there were at least 243 vessels that joined the fluvial procession although only 136 had registered with the Marina.
Most of the vessels also went ahead of the galleon bearing the Sto. Niño image, instead of just tailing it as required by the Coast Guard.
Punzalan said he listed the vessels that violated regulations and would submit the list to the Marina for verification of their registration documents.
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