GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 Jan) – Thousands of devotees and visitors are expected to gather anew in a seaside village here on Wednesday to pay homage to the Señor Sto. Niño de Bula and witness a traditional fluvial procession along the Sarangani Bay in line with its annual feast.
Roel Granfon, 2020 Sto. Niño de Bula festival director, said Tuesday they are “all set and ready” for the festivity, which is considered as the biggest patronal fiesta celebration in the city.
He said they expect another huge crowd in the highly-anticipated fluvial procession, which will feature around 200 fishing boats owned by local tuna fishing companies.
“The celebration is actually getting bigger every year and we expect the trend to continue this year,” he said in a radio interview.
Granfon said the main activities will start on Tuesday night with a mass, inland procession of the Señor Sto. Niño in key areas of Barangay Bula and a fireworks display.
The highlight of the celebration on Wednesday will begin with a diana and mass at the Sto. Niño de Bula parish church, he said.
After the mass around 6 a.m., he said the image of the Señor Sto. Niño will be carried by an amphibian to the shores of Purok 5 and will be transferred to the designated “Sto. Niño carrier,” the F/B Noreen Hazel owned by NH Agro Industrial Inc.
Granfon said the carrier will lead the other boats towards the city fishport complex in Barangay Tambler, where it will then turn around and proceed to the Queen Tuna Park in Barangay Dadiangas South.
From the park, another procession will accompany the return of the Señor Sto. Niño to the parish church, where a pontifical mass will be led by Marbel Diocese Bishop Cerilo Casicas around 10 a.m.
Marfenio Tan, in-charge of the fluvial procession, said they have tapped personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and Maritime Police to serve as marshals.
He said the move is aimed to ensure order and properly secure the participating fishing boats and devotees.
Col. Aden Lagradante, city police director, said the necessary security measures are in place for the festivity, which drew as high as 100,000 devotees and visitors in the past years.
He said they earlier conducted a “walk-through” of the areas covered by the processions and identified certain points that need more attention in terms of security deployment.
“Based on our security plan, we will be deploying around 1,000 uniformed personnel for the event,” he said.
The police official said the security teams will be augmented by elements from the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan and force multipliers from barangays and civic organizations.
The feast of the Sto. Niño de Bula coincides with the 42nd founding anniversary celebration of the parish and the Isda-Isdaan Festival of Barangay Bula.
But the original patronal celebration dates back to the late 1940s and eventually became bigger with the participation of tuna fishing companies that originated in Barangay Bula.
Fishing companies and fishermen in the area mainly believe that their devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño has brought blessings to their operations. (MindaNews)