Sto. Niño de Cebu motorcade to push through amid strict COVID-19 protocols
CEBU CITY—Despite the stricter alert level 3 now prevailing in Cebu City, the motorcade that will bring the image of Sto. Niño de Cebu to four cities and a town in Metro Cebu will proceed on Saturday, the eve of the 457th Fiesta Señor (Feast of the Child Jesus) celebration.
Government and Church officials said they decided to push through with the staging of the motorcade “to inspire people” and “bring the image closer to the devotees” who were unable to attend the nine-day novena leading to the feast since all Masses inside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu were done online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cebu still has to recover from the devastation of Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) that pummeled the island on Dec. 16 last year.
“Sto. Niño is the magnet of love, [but] because of what happened (COVID-19 and Typhoon Odette), people believed that there is no more hope,” said Fr. Nelson Zerda, OSA, the basilica rector and executive chair of Fiesta Señor 2022, at a briefing on Thursday.
The motorcade will be held in lieu of the fluvial parade and the solemn foot processions, which were canceled for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fluvial parade and foot procession were key activities held on the eve of the feast and had brought hundreds of thousands of Sto. Niño devotees into the streets of Metro Cebu as the image was being transferred from the basilica to the churches in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
Only 5 vehicles
Fiesta Señor is a religious celebration held every third Sunday of January in honor of the Sto. Niño, or the Holy Child Jesus, which had annually drawn at least a million devotees and pilgrims to Cebu. Its cultural counterpart is the equally famous Sinulog Festival.
This time, no motorists will be allowed to join the convoy as only five vehicles, including the one carrying the image, will take part in the motorcade, which will traverse the main roads of the mainland cities of Cebu, Talisay and Mandaue; and Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town on Mactan Island.
The motorcade, which will start at 6:30 p.m., will cross Cebu’s newest landmark, the 8.5-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway that connects mainland Cebu and Mactan Island. It will stop in eight churches from Cebu City to Cordova, before returning to the basilica.
Organizers said there would be no road closures but traffic enforcement teams have advised the public to stay home and watch the activity online, as it will be streamed live on the basilica’s social media pages, to avoid any gathering that could cause a spread of COVID-19.
As of Jan. 13, Cebu City has 1,364 active cases, a big jump from only eight active infections recorded on Jan. 2, the city’s health office records showed.
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