CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama declared Sinulog 2014 festivities open after the 2:30 p.m. Mass held at the Pilgrims’ Center of the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
“Allow me to declare by virtue of being the mayor, the overall chairman of Cebu Sinulog Foundation 2014 together with President Renato Osmeña, Governor Hilario Davide III, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, and all the Councilmen, to all of you, I now declare Sinulog 2014 open,” said Rama to the thundering applause of the devotees.
The crowd was estimated at 35,500 by Waterfront police station chief Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu.
The Mass was presided by Parish Priest Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Msgr. Roberto Boy F. Alesna.
Sinulog 2014 has the theme “Sto. Niño: Hope of the People” which was also the center of the homily delivered by Alesna. He said the Holy Child gives the people strength and hope after enumerating the calamities experienced by the country especially Visayas region.
“We cannot stop ourselves from being afraid, labi na sa mga kalamidad nga miigo sa atong nasod, but we cannot allow our fears to be in power,” he said.He added in his homily that he is not surprised when people questioned where God was when the calamities struck our region.
“Faith is a fragile thing, but we must not be surprised when doubts arise within us because God will always understand the doubts,” he said.
One of the devotees, Mindee Maristela, 17, was inspired by the homily as she was one of the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that hit her hometown, Tacloban City, Leyte.
“Good health, and maayo unta makaahon na ang mga survivors sa Yolanda especially akong family,” said Maristela. She said she will try to complete the nine days of novena Masses as she is a devotee of the Holy Child.
Another devotee, Mary Ann Coliao, 15, petitioned to have a peaceful and calamity-free country this year.
“Maayo unta wala na’y kusog nga bagyo nga moigo sa atong country, unya maayo pod unta peaceful ang atong year karon,” said Coliao.
Yolanda Mahusay, 50, a person with disability, who was escorted by her friend to the Mass, said her condition will not stop her completing the novena Mass.
“Maayo unta nga magmaayo lang ang lawas ug unta wala na’y mga kakulian ug katalagman,” Mahusay said. She admitted she has a hard time going back and forth to church since she has to use a wheelchair.
Tiu said they deployed 60 policemen within the vicinity of the church to ensure the security and safety of the devotees. He added nothing untoward happened during the Mass.
Others who attended the Mass included Governor Hilario Davide III, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and city councilors Dave Tumulak, Hanz Abella, and Mary Ann delos Santos.
After the Mass the Sinulog 2014 launching parade assembled in Plaza Sugbo and headed to the Cebu City Sports Center. The parade was led by Rama, Labella and the councilors who attended the Mass. (FREEMAN)