The crowd-drawing activities of the city’s biggest annual patronal celebration, the feast of the Sto. Niño de Bula slated on Jan. 15, have been canceled due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Nicanora Vargas, chairperson of Barangay Bula here, said Tuesday they decided to forego the holding of this year’s Isda-Isdaan Festival, Sinulog street dancing, and the traditional “Pahalik sa Imahe (kissing of the image)” as a precautionary measure.
She said the move was based on consultations with the Sto. Niño de Bula Parish, concerned stakeholders, and the city government.
“We will continue with some of the activities but these will be controlled and limited to ensure compliance to the health protocols,” she said in an interview.
The Sto. Niño de Bula patronal feast, considered as among the biggest religious celebrations in Region 12 (Soccsksargen), had attracted as high as 100,000 devotees and visitors these past years.
It is highlighted by a fluvial procession along the Sarangani Bay that is joined by hundreds of fishing vessels from the village, where most of the pioneers of the city’s multimillion fishing industry originated.
Vargas said the fluvial procession will continue but only the designated amphibian that will carry the image of the Sto. Niño de Bula and vessels from the Philippine Coast Guard will join the activity.
She said the procession route will be reduced and measures are being laid out to prevent the convergence of devotees and spectators.
The traditional hourly masses at the Sto. Niño de Bula Parish church will continue but on limited capacity, she said.
The holding of mass gatherings in the entire city, which is currently under modified general community quarantine, remains prohibited due to the threats posed by the spread of Covid-19.
The feast of the Sto. Niño de Bula coincides with the 43rd founding anniversary celebration of the parish and the Isda-Isdaan Festival of Barangay Bula.
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 believe that their devotion to the Sto. Niño has brought blessings to their operations
Source: Philippines News agency