Sinulog 2011

Not a drop of rain fell for yesterday’s formal opening of Sinulog 2011.

A Mass at the Pilgrim Center of the Sto. Niño Basilica started at 2:20 p.m. under cloudy skies with bleachers full for devotees ready to get drenched if needed.

Thousands of hands waved in the air for the traditional songs or “gozos” in reverence to the Holy Child amid cool monsoon winds.

“This is the amazing feature in the celebration of the Fiesta of the Sto. Nino,” said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama,who watched the scene in awe from the side of the outdoor altar.

“Iyang pagbuot ang tanan.”

After the Mass, groups of Sinulog dancers from various Cebu schools led a colorful parade from the basilica to the Cebu City Sports Center.

During the Mass, Cebu City councilors dressed in official Sinulog 2011 black T-shirts stood behind the mayor. His girlfriend, lawyer Joy Pesquera, watched alongside him.

Board members of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. with executive director Ricky Ballesteros sat on the opposite side of the Pilgrim Center gallery.

In his homily, Msgr. Roberto “Boy” Alesna urged the people to treat the Sto. Niño with reverence and not just as a prop for dancing.

He recalled the comment of a chairman of the 2007 Sinulog competition board of judges, Dr. Larry Gabao , who was disturbed that “the Sto Ninio has almost become a prop in all of the presentations.”

The priest also said he agreed wholeheartedly with Mayor Rama’s previous statement discouraging the use of little children, dressed like the Holy Child, in performances and that if it can’t be avoided, to observe utmost care.

Otherwise this could be considered a violation of a special law on exploitation of children, Republic Act 7610, said Alesna.

Toward the end of the mass, candle vendors, mostly women in uniform yellow and red dresses, received envelopes of cash, traditional tokens from foundation officers headed by Mayor Rama, who declared Sinulog 2011, Cebu’s biggest festival, formally open.


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