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Traffic, church officials ready for Sinulog weekend

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Be prepared to walk and pray for good weather.

Traffic and church officials yesterday issued their respective advisories to the public in the run-up to the grand Sinulog weekend.

Rafael Yap, acting head of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), said it would be best for people to just walk to their destinations as traffic is expected to be heavy throughout Saturday and Sunday with the closure of major roads especially in areas where activities of the Sto. Niño fiesta and the Sinulog will be held.

Wearing comfortable walking shoes and light clothes will help, he said.

“The Sinulog celebration is all about walking so be prepared to walk. You will also best enjoy the Sinulog atmosphere by walking because you cannot also bring vehicles,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Yap is also advising those who are headed for work or going to other engagements to leave their houses at least two hours ahead of their appointments.

Citom will be closing Legaspi Extension and a portion of Osmeña Boulevard near the Basilica del Sto. Niño as early as 3 a.m. on Saturday to give way to the foot procession that will follow the fluvial procession. The foot procession will bring the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe back to the basilica.

He said that another road closure will be implemented starting at 10 a.m. this time affecting roads in the procession route.

More city roads will be closed on Sunday for the Sinulog grand parade.

Yap said that Citom will implement clearing of the Sinulog parade route that will include Osmeña Boulevard, P. del Rosario St., Imus Road, General Maxilom Extension and General Maxilom Avenue starting at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

“We will remove illegally parked vehicles and other road obstructions. Once cleared, we will close the road,” he said.

Yap said that traffic will be heavy in Mambaling area on Sunday. Vehicles coming from the south and headed for the north are advised to use the South Coastal Road at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Since B. Rodriguez St. will also be closed to traffic, vehicles headed for the uptown area will have to use M. Velez St. and N. Escario Avenue.

Yap said he has already asked the provincial government’s permission to allow vehicles to use the Capitol compound road as a traffic diversion road as well as the AFP Central Command for the use of the Centcom Road in barangay Apas as a diversion road for those headed for Talamban.

Vehicular traffic is also expected to be heavy at the Banilad-Talamban corridor especially on Sunday night when Sinulog spectators will be heading home.

Yap said that vehicular traffic coming from Mandaue City and other northern cities will also be cut short until the vicinity of the Ayala Access Road in barangay Hipodromo because of the closure of General Maxilom Extension and Imus Road.

Yap said it would be best to leave private vehicles at home and instead take public transport.

If one would opt to bring a vehicle, the driver should know where the diversion and alternate routes are, he added.

Good weather

Augustinian fathers asked the faithful to pray for good weather as the 447th Fiesta Señor unfolds this weekend.

But regardless of the weather condition, it will be all systems go for the activities lined up in honor of the Holy Child Jesus.

“Even if it rains, we will consider that as a blessing. Water is life,” said Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA, the executive director of Santo Niño de Cebu Augustinian Social Development Foundation Inc.

Soquiño noted that in past years, rain or a drizzle is a usual phenomenon when the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu is brought out for the solemn procession.

Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA, the rector of the centuries-old Basilica del Sto. Niño, said they are ready to distribute with red and yellow umbrellas to devotees going to the church’s Pilgrim Center in case of a downpour.

“We just hope and pray for a good weather,” Mejares said.

The solemn procession of the Sto. Niño will start at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow and will pass through the 5.8-kilometer route.

From the basilica, the carriages of the images of St. Joseph, Our Lady of Consolation, and the Sto. Niño de Cebu will pass along Osmeña Boulevard.

Upon reaching the Fuente Osmeña circle, the procession will proceed to General Maxilom Avenue, Imus Street, M.J. Cuenco Avenue, Osmena Boulevard near Plaza Independencia and back to the basilica.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is expected to carry the image of the Sto. Niño from its altar to the flower-decked carroza. The 62-year-old prelate will also bring the image back to its altar after the procession.

Fr. Mhar Balili, the secretary of the archbishop, said Palma won’t join the procession.

“He will just carry the image to the carroza and bring it back to the altar after the procession,” Balili told Cebu Daily News.

He said Palma will, however, join the fluvial procession of the Sto. Niño which will start at the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City towards Pier 1 in Cebu City at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Palma also joined the fluvial procession of the Sto. Niño two days after he assumed as archbishop of Cebu in January 2011.

Military ritual

One of the highlights in this year’s activities will be the formal turnover of church custody during the solemn foot procession tomorrow afternoon.

At 12 noon, the procession will start from San Nicolas Parish which is about kilometers away from the basilica.

The Sto. Niño de Teniente from San Nicolas will be escorted by honor guards from the Philippine Navy.

Soquiño said the image will be brought inside the Church where it will be placed beside another image of the Sto. Niño which will be used in the solemn procession.

“This would be a military ritual,” he said.

Soquiño said the flag of the Sto. Niño will be handed over by Fr. Mejares, the rector of the basilica to Msgr. Trinidad Silva, the parish priest of the San Nicolas Church which was believed to be the place where the original image of the Child Jesus was found in 1565.

The original image of the Sto. Niño used to be brought out of the basilica for the solemn procession.

An image of the Sto. Niño known as the “teniente general” was left to guard the Church while the original image deemed as the “capitan general” was used during the procession.

In order to preserve the original image that was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan as baptismal gift to Cebu’s Queen Juana in 1521, the Augustinians, which has supervision over the basilica, decided to keep the image inside the Church.

A replica of the original image has been used in the fluvial and foot processions.

But the traditional turnover of command continues during the annual procession of the Sto. Niño.

Soquiño said they are hoping to have the AFP CentCom band to add color to the turnover rites.

The procession, which has drawn over a million devotees, is coordinated with the Cebu City government and traffic managers.

The priests are appealing to the public to avoid lighting firecrackers during the procession.

Few registrants

The Philippine Coast Guard said only a few vessel owners have registered for Saturday’s fluvial procession while the procession route have been cut short by one loop to make sure that the images of the Sto. Nino and the Our Lady of Guadalupe are able to return to the basilica for the reenactment of the first mass.

Commander Rolando Punzalan, the local coast guard commander, said stricter rules and the charging of registration fees may have discouraged vessel owners from participating in the fluvial procession.

“We had to do this to ensure safety of the vessels and its passengers and maintain order during the procession,” he said.

In last year’s fluvial parade, at least 400 vessels joined the activity, but only189 had registered. This created chaos and congestion during the parade from the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City to Pier 1 in Cebu City.

Punzalan said that at the close of registration last Wednesday, only 55 vessels registered for Saturday’s procession.

Participating vessel owners were required to secure a seaworthiness certificate from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and made to pay registration fees ranging from P800 to P3, 000. A fee of P800 is collected from small vessels (3 to 15 tons) while medium vessels (15.5 to 35 tons) are charged P1, 100. Big vessels (35.5 to 250 tons) are charged P3, 000.

Punzalan warned owners of unregistered vessels that will show up and join the fluvial parade will be fined P10, 000 for the first offense; P20, 000 for the second offense and P50, 000 and suspense of license for the third offense. “We will also be implementing adjudication based on Marina guidelines on violators,” he said. The local coast guard chief said they will be taking pictures and videos of violators which will be used as evidence against them.

Punzalan said the fluvial procession will leave the Ouano wharft at 6 a.m. The procession will only have one loop which at the vicinity of the old Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. The supposed second loop at the vicinity of barangay Pasil was canceled to save time and make sure that the images of the Sto. Nino and the Our Lady of Guadalupe are able to reach the basilica in time for the re-enactment of the first mass.

Punzalan said that they will also do away with “cutting corners” to already avoid from bringing the galleon closer to the port areas that it will pass by. Instead the galleon will be made to travel a straight line to save on time.

The trip from the old Mandue-Mactan bridge is about 5 nautical miles.

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