We are more than halfway through the Fiesta Senor 2019 celebration. Drawing closer are awaited events such as the crowning of the Sinulog Festival Queen, Traslacion, Sinulog Idol, Fluvial Parade, musical and cultural shows, and a festival of lights. Such activities and festivities are positively hyping up thousands among thousands of participants.
The catch is, with this large of a crowd, things can get out of hand. With this, it is important to go back now to the festival’s theme, “Sto. Nino: Guide of God’s Children to Service and Humility.”
In the hustle and bustle of the festivities, it is relatively easy to forget the reason why we attend masses at the Basilica or maintain the traditions that we do during this event—to serve and give thanks to the Child Jesus.
Throughout the celebration of the novena masses, thousands of people enter and exit the gates of the Basilica. Because of the Cebuanos’ extraordinary devotion to the Sto. Niño, mass goers almost have to fight for their place inside the church. Combining heat exhaustion and overcrowding with other external factors, devotees can easily become irritated and demand irrational requests.
Heated exchanges with guards and security personnel are notoriously common during the festivities and while it is understandable that some people have come a long way to enter the church gates, it is important to be patient and conscientious with everyone we encounter inside the Basilica. Everyone has a purpose for coming to the Basilica and as well as a role to fulfill.
Strict security regulations like the prohibition of backpacks may force some people to make difficult compromises but ultimately, this is only to ensure the safety of all the mass goers. Everyone’s safety and security is, of course, of paramount concern.
Even the prohibition of picture-taking is only to help maintain the sanctity of the masses. Even when some personnel may seem unkind in their approach to enforcing these rules, it is important to remain understanding and to remind ourselves that these people have big shoes to fill and roles to accomplish in keeping the church events smooth-sailing.
This year’s theme underscores humility and service: two attributes that work hand-in-hand. Humility or the state of being humble, after all, is a prerequisite to genuine and good-hearted service. Alternatively, to perform service in the realest sense of the word involves being humble enough to serve others without expecting anything in return. Sto. Niño is an exemplar of servitude and humility. Inarguably, he is someone we must emulate.
In our exchanges with everyone we encounter not only during the festivities, but in our everyday lives, it is important to ask ourselves whether or not we are actively trying to emulate the service and humility exemplified by Sto. Niño.
This year’s theme calls us to follow in Sto. Niño’s footprints be it at home, in school, at the workplace, and even during the Fiesta Señor. For instance, in attending the masses, we can all be a little kinder by treating volunteers and security personnel with respect and entrusting them to do their jobs, being courteous of other devotees, keeping the church grounds clean, and following the rules and regulations inside.
The essence of this year’s festival underlines our responsibility to be humble and to serve, to be in the likeness of the Child Jesus. In our desire to give thanks to Him, it is essential that we be careful not to step on the dignity of other people since everyone is entitled the same humility and respect that we think we deserve. / Maria Consuelo Pacilan and Lara Eviota, USC Student Volunteers