A Parola-class patrol vessel that braved the unpredictable waves of the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) BRP CABRA (MRRV-4409), with all her might and glory is the official carrier and galleon of the image of Sñr. Sto. Niño de Cebu for the 458th Fiesta Señor’s fluvial parade.
Acting District Deputy Commander of Coast Guard District Central Visayas (CGDCV) CG CDR Mark Larsen Mariano shared that being part of the festival for 32 years has been a meaningful achievement for the country’s oldest and only humanitarian armed service.
“On the part of the PCG, it’s been a milestone for us because… one of our vessels will be used as the Galleon for the Sto. Niño,” he said.
After careful consideration, the PCG chose the 44-meter vessel instead of a larger ship since it will only be used between Lapu-Lapu and Cebu City. Upon sending a request to the higher headquarters, they were given BRP CABRA, which is in “tiptop condition” and the nearest to Central Visayas.
“…In terms of reliability and efficiency sa tingin ko is mas ahead siya [BRP CABRA] compared sa mga vessels na katulad niya,” CG CDR Mariano added.
“This will have a big impact on the Philippine Coast Guard, particularly Central Visayas, because just like what I’ve said, we can showcase the Philippine Coast Guard na we are not just on search and rescue, maritime security, maritime safety, marine environmental protection, but of course it’s a part of our mandate to help other communities… mga partners natin like itong ano Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (BMSN),” he elaborated.
Further, the commander said they are limiting the passengers between 40-50 to maintain the minimum health and safety standards.
According to the Archbishop of Cebu, His Excellency Most Reverend Jose S. Palma, D.D., we have every reason to thank the Lord now that we are back to celebrating the Fiesta Señor festivities in person.
“I do believe this is a wonderful sign that Sñr. Sto. Niño is with us, and we can only hope for a better tomorrow because we know His love is even more deeply felt, and we are more than eager to really accept the change expected of us… pinangga gyod ta ni Sñr. Sto. Niño,” he shared.
According to CG CDR Mariano, registration is free and open to everyone. For the 2023 Fluvial Procession, a total of 193 registered motor boats, small bancas, big vessels (35 Gross Tonnage below and above) officially joined the parade.
Official PCG-numbered tarpaulins and flaglets are provided to vessels as proof of their registration. To maintain a harmonized vessel registration, prerequisites were given. For vessels with below 35GT, operators secured Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (PSSC), Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), Manning Certificate with clear copy of ID of Boat Captain/Operator; for vessels with above 35GT, operators only presented Cargo Ship Safety Certificate (CSSC) and Manning Certificate with clear copy of ID of Boat Captain/Operator.
Like most public gatherings, the PCG is anticipating possible challenges during the course of the parade like a possible rainshower and instances where unregistered boats will join the parade, hampering the flow of the fluvial procession.
“Meron tayong mga barriers set up na mga boats, small boats…from the PNP Maritime Group, the Philippine Navy, BFAR, and other law enforcement agencies na kasama natin dito,” CG CDR Mariano stated.
“With all the preparations that we are having now…since Coast Guard Station Central Cebu is judged as the best station all over the Philippines, with that sa tingin ko naman magagampanan natin ang trabaho natin,” he added.
With a full-covered preparations, no untoward accidents were reported throughout the fluvial procession and a fair weather outpaced the rainy weather forecast – deemed to be a miraculous work of the Holy Child, Santo Niño after a 13-day consecutive wet weather in Metro Cebu.
What’s Next for PCG
As they focus on helping the Filipino people, the PCG expressed hope for the government to have the “political will” to support the organization’s modernization as they still lack assets and manpower. CG CDR Mariano believed that if they are given the chance, they can reach the level where they will have little to no setbacks as they serve the country and its people.
As the feast day of Sñr. Sto. Niño radiates a different drive for oneness and stillness to the whole PCG Community, CG CDR Mariano is calling on everyone to reflect as they ask the blessing of the Holy Child.
“My message is that I am encouraging everybody to join the Sinulog festival… it’s already been a tradition for the Cebuanos and other devotees all over the country. It’s the time for us to thank our Sto. Niño or Jesus Christ… for all the blessings that we have,” he concluded.
Like how BRP CABRA fearlessly protected our seas, Sñr. Sto. Niño remains unyielding to the test of time—firm and strong, because of faith. /Lorille Antoinette C. Mata and Analyn Conocono, BMSN Media Centre volunteers