Sinulog Festival 2019 begins with Mass, parade
By John Rey Saavedra/PNA
CEBU CITY — The official start of the Sinulog Festival 2019, the cultural aspect of the Fiesta Señor, began Friday with a solemn Mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center that was attended by thousands of devotees.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who also chairs the Sinulog Foundation that supervises the over-all conduct of the festival, declared the celebration officially open in a message delivered at the Mass officiated by Msgr. Roberto Alesna.
Osmeña was joined by his wife, City Councilor Margarita, other councilors and officials of the city government of Cebu.
After the Mass, street dancers from different contingents paraded from Plaza Independencia to the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), where the “grand launch” of the festival was conducted at 5 p.m.
City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who also heads the executive committee of the Sinulog Foundation that supervises the over-all conduct of the celebration, described the launch as the grandest.
He thanked all the sectors involved in the preparations, as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP), for securing the city during the grand launch.
On Friday night, the “Sinulog Idol”, hosted by the foundation was launched at the Plaza Independencia. This was followed by a performance of the PNP Band at the Fuente Osmeña circle.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Office Director, Senior Supt. Royima Garma, announced the opening of one more entrance leading towards the Basilica.
Garma said the crowd control team opened one area at the southern portion of the Basilica for devotees who wish to enter the church to participate in the nine-day novena Mass.
She also said that one more exit was opened near the Cebu City Hall-Magellan’s Cross area.
In this year’s celebration, many prohibitions were implemented by the police and the city officials, Tumulak said, such as the bringing of backpacks to the Basilica and in other areas during the celebration.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, who is in-charge of the Basilica’s peace and order, said devotees who will bring balloons will not be allowed entry into the church premises.
City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Nagiel Bañacia said a balloon was the cause of a power outage that stalled the grand parade in previous year’s celebration.
On his Facebook post, Osmeña said the prohibition against bringing backpacks is for safety.
“To everyone texting me about the backpack policy: I am sorry, but this is for your safety. Almost all terrorist bombings in Philippine cities are done with a backpack that is left in a crowd. We simply do not have the resources to screen all bags properly and even if we did, movement would be so slow you will end up standing for four hours waiting to be screened,” the mayor said.
According to him, two million people will be on the streets for the celebration.
“And I am responsible for each and every one of you. Cebu has been fortunate enough to not have any bombing for the past 30 years and I will do everything I can to keep it that way. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I cannot be sorry for doing my job,” he said.