Carvajal: Child-friendliest

Orlando Carvajal

WHAT with all the negative dynamics among this year’s Sinulog “organizers,” I thought I’d go off earlier than usual on my appeal to make the fete meaningful-because-helpful to Cebu City’s underprivileged children.

I have promised to advocate yearly for the Feast of the Sto. Niño to include raising funds for the rescue of vulnerable street children (5-18 years old) and their rehabilitation so they have more than a thread of a chance to become productive members of society.

In 1998 (I couldn’t get more recent data) the Missionaries of Asia placed the number of street children in the Philippines at 1.5 million, 5,000 of them in Cebu alone. They eke out a living by working the streets as beggars, petty thieves, drug pushers and prostitutes. (The figures do not include trafficked, commercially and sexually abused children.) These figures could have gone up or down since. Still, they are unacceptable in the only Christian country of Asia, least of all in Cebu City whose patron is the Sto. Niño.

We ought to be ashamed at the way we lavishly and ostentatiously dance, sing, join religious rituals in His honor yet neglect to help our underprivileged children, the children that He loved and let come to Him over the protestations of His disciples for “of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Is this how the Sto. Niño wants to be worshiped? Could He be smiling down on us as we try to please Him like another Anito with song, dance, knee-walks, candles etc. so He would solve our problems for us?

Why can’t we honor him with a concrete and practical demonstration of our love for disadvantaged children? Why can’t the children get a share of the funds generated by commercial sponsorships and Church collections?

There are many groups doing work with Cebu City’s vulnerable disadvantaged street children. They are all funded by foreign charitable institutions. Why can’t the local Catholic Church begin to provide funding to these groups from a share at least of the millions of pesos collected during the novena of Masses.

Where is all that money being spent, anyway? Or is it really none of our business?

I could be wrong and hope I am, but the row about which body should coordinate Sinulog is all about politics and money. This is shameful and tragic as the Sto. Niño’s feast is reduced to a mere platform from which political leaders launch their ambitions of power and control.

(This is not Christianity but Christianism which I will explain in a future column).

Sinulog, as feted, amounts to nothing more than a pseudo-religious festival. Human reason alone should tell us that any individual or community that professes love for the Sto. Niño should logically honor Him by being friendliest to disadvantaged children.