Briones: Call for prudence

Publio J. Briones III
·3 min read

I don’t know about you, but did you see the photos taken by Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak of the crowd gathered outside the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Barangay Poblacion, Pardo on the first day of the Misa de Gallo, or dawn mass, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020?

Compare that to the photos taken by SunStar Cebu photographer Amper Campaña inside the Pilgrim’s Center at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

In the former, hundreds of people were huddled outside the fence of the church, probably because they weren’t allowed to enter to prevent overcrowding inside. They filled the sidewalk and spilled over on to the road, occupying half a lane of the southbound highway.

On the other hand, in Campaña’s photo, the scene was more orderly. Mass-goers occupied chairs that were evenly spaced on the ground to ensure social distancing. It was the same in the bleachers.

Of course, I have no idea what was going outside since there were no photos. It might have been as chaotic as the scene in Pardo.

Several days ago, I complained about candle vendors and mass-goers taking over half of the lane of Osmeña Blvd. But when I passed by during my daily afternoon walk on Tuesday, Dec. 15, they were gone.

Perhaps, church and city officials read my column. Or am I being too presumptuous? After all, the candle vendors and mass-goers were hard to ignore. Not only were they right outside the church, they were also a few blocks from the City Hall.

Anyway, the photos elicited mixed reactions. I, too, was torn.

Part of me was in awe of the Cebuanos’ show of faith and defiance. It was like they were staring danger in the face, with fists clenched, heads help up high, probably having had enough of cowering in fear of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that has ruled their lives since the middle of March.

Or should I say “our” lives.

You see, we’ve all had to live through the months of lockdown. We’ve all been terribly affected by the ongoing health crisis. Some more than others even.

So part of me was also shocked that they would risk everything after what we have been through.

I know, and I have been saying it all along, look at the data. Look at the science. Look at the facts. But it was in the context of easing movement restrictions so people could go back to work, earn a living and feed their families.

Judging by the numbers, not only here in Cebu but across the archipelago, Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has not been the Grim Reaper that we were led to believe at the start of this nightmare. The majority of infected individuals did eventually recover and most displayed minor or no symptoms at all.

But hey. What’s the harm of staying at home and watching the whole proceeding online?