90% ready for 458th Fiesta Señor

THE organizers of the 458th Fiesta Señor said they are now at 90 percent in their preparations as all religious activities are expected to be back to their pre-pandemic form.

The Augustinian friars announced during a press conference Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, that what needs to be done now is the implementation of the measures laid down by the organizers for the fiesta.

Fr. John Miranda, director for safety and security of the Fiesta Señor, said they are also waiting for the schedule of the simulation exercise that will be conducted with the government’s security forces.

Miranda announced that all religious activities like the novena masses, Walk with Jesus, Walk with Mary, Traslaciones, and seaborne procession will be back after being halted because of the restrictions brought by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The number of devotees during these activities will not be limited despite the ongoing threat of the pandemic, he added.

But the organizers are still encouraging the devotees to wear their face masks inside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu as a safety precaution.

Miranda said they will also observe the crowd during the Misa de Gallo for additional inputs that can be used in handling the influx of people to the Basilica.

“We will observe the entrances and the crowds that attend the masses, and after some evaluations we will implement that one during our coordination meeting with the security sector,” said Miranda.

The Basilica can accommodate up to 3,500 devotees, but Miranda said they will ask the city government if they can install big screens at the Plaza Sugbo in front of the Cebu City Hall for people who can no longer enter the pilgrim center.

Cebu City Police Office Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog said they will deploy 4,953 police personnel for the entire celebration of the Fiesta Señor, but they will still request for an additional 3,000 augmentation officers.

Police Col. Antonietto Cañete, chief of the Regional Community Affairs Development Division, also hinted about the possibility of implementing a signal shutdown as a security measure during large gatherings such as the foot and seaborne processions.

But Cañete said they will still consult the organizers of the Fiesta Señor and city officials before coming up with a final decision on the measure.

The Fiesta Señor will kick off with the Penitential Walk with Jesus at the Fuente Osmeña Circle going to the Basilica on Jan. 5, 2023.

There will be 11 novena masses every day at the Basilica’s pilgrim center. The masses will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Seaborne procession

Ensign Reynann Lagare of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Central Visayas said they have already sent a request to higher headquarters for a 44-meter vessel that will be used as “Galleon” that will bear the image of the Sto. Niño during the seaborne procession on Jan. 14, 2023.

April Letigio of the Maritime Industry Authority Regional Office 7 said they will coordinate with the PCG for the registration of marine vessels that will join the procession.

According to Letigio, unlike in recent years, there is no need for the operators of the vessels to secure a special permit to join the seaborne procession.

Interested vessel operators or owners will just have to register with the PCG, which will conduct the verification if the ship or boat has existing safety clearances or permits.

The seaborne procession will start at the Naval Forces Central port in Lapu-Lapu City and end up in Pier 1, Cebu City.