Wenceslao: Reevaluation

Bong O. Wenceslao

I AM basically a loner, so being in a crowd bothers me. That is why among my batch who decided to go full time in the underground when I was younger (largely during the Marcos years), I was one among two who remained in the countryside longer. When I was in high school, I would travel to the Camotes group of islands by my lonesome to stay in the hills of Poro and Tudela towns. Our relatives in Tudela once asked me why I preferred to stay in the house of my uncle in the hills of Kanmanok instead of in the poblacion.

But there are instances when I would join large crowds in events, like during the procession prior to the feast of the Sto. Niño in Cebu City and the novena masses at the Basilica. In the procession, my responsibilities as a family man partly drew me into it. My wife is particular about Catholic rituals and would prod our two sons to accompany her while in the taxing walk. When I was a full-time journalist, I would accompany them to where they could join the procession and then proceed to SunStar Cebu for my editing work.

I remember, too, paying tickets for the culminating program of the Sinulog Grand Parade at the Cebu City Sports Center during the Sunday fiesta. That was easier in the early years of my marriage to Edizza because we stayed in our ancestral house in Sitio Kawayan along B. Rodriguez Ext. My wife and I would simply walk from the house to the sports center following the old route I took during my elementary years in City Central School, which is located near the sports center’s grandstand.

Our most memorable experience was bringing our eldest son, who was then a year old, to the grandstand for the culmination program of the Sinulog Grand Parade--with his milk, diapers and all. But those sacrifices and the joys of watching the Sinulog dances live inside the sports center ended years later when we realized that the risks and hassles had outweighed the practice of joining the crowd in fiesta senor activities.

More so when we transferred to Minglanilla town where we needed to ride to and from Cebu City for the feast. The traffic from Minglanilla to Talisay may be smooth but not at the Cebu City Center. And where do you park your vehicle? When you choose to commute, you have to deal with traffic rerouting and tightly packed public utility jeepneys. It’s always a battle out there just to be able to go home before midnight.

So now we shy away from major fiesta activities except for a few novena masses at the Basilica and the grand procession. By the way, I saw this newspaper headline days ago that the tickets for the culminating program of this year’s Sinulog Grand Parade are no longer selling “like hotcakes.” There is no surprise for me there. People may be starting to realize that the risks and the hassles have far outweighed the enjoyment of soaking oneself in Sinulog festivities.

The Sinulog Foundation Inc. seems to be already preparing for the Sinulog festivities by rote, so too the Augustinian priests for the Basilica activities. Time for reevaluation and major changes, I say.