The city government will forego the setting up of the “Devotee City”, the sleeping quarters for visiting pilgrims of the Sto. Niño, due to the cancelation of major Sinulog religious activities set for January next year.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said Tuesday due to the pronouncement by the Augustinian friars that they are canceling the solemn foot procession and fluvial parade, there would be no more use in constructing the devotee city for pilgrims who could not afford to stay in a hotel or pension house.
The quarters are made of piled container vans put up at the old Compania Maritima some 450 meters away from the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
“As announced, the focus now is the Eucharistic celebration through Zoom. So that is virtual. And because of that, we will not set up the devotee city,” Labella said in a press conference.
He lauded the decision of the Augustinian friars in canceling the activities that would create a “throng of people” and pose a threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) transmission.
Instead, the Masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño would be aired via live streaming on social media.
Labella expressed support for the decision of the friars to postpone the big events for the 500th centennial celebration of the arrival of the Sto. Niño image in Cebu next year.
The Sto. Niño image was a gift by the Spaniards to Queen Juana (Hara Humamay), the wife of Cebu ruler, Rajah Humabon, upon their arrival in 1521.
The Roman Catholic church in the Philippines has prepared a lineup of activities for the 500th centennial celebration of faith in the country.
However, the pandemic caused the cancelation of all activities, including the celebration of Datu Lapu-Lapu’s heroism in the island of Mactan prepared by the National Quincentennial Committee.
Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., before the Basilica, announced on Monday the cancellation of all crowd-drawing activities, including the Walk with Jesus at the opening salvo of the Fiesta Señor, the Walk with Mary, Traslacion, fluvial parade, and the solemn foot procession.
Labella said the friars and the city government have agreed to limit the churchgoers inside the Basilica’s Pilgrim Center to 1,000 people to ensure physical distancing during the nine-day novena Masses and the concelebrated fiesta Mass.
“We have the assurance from the PNP (Philippine National Police) and force multipliers that there will be marshals who will go around to remind the churchgoers of the strict enforcement of social distancing and the health protocols,” he said. (PNA)