EDITORIAL: Celebrate Solemnly and Heed Protocols



Observing solemnity and orderliness in the conduct of the regional fiesta in honor of the Lady of Peñafrancia, Patroness of Bicolandia, and the image of Divino Rostro (Holy Face) has been a major concern among church and government leaders even prior to the onslaught of the Co-vid 19 pandemic.


Given the suspension of the celebration during the pandemic years, it would not be of any surprise should this year’s rites draw a larger crowd. For this reason, appropriate plans and strategies should be carefully crafted in order that resurgence of the dreaded virus does not occur.


History tells that unruly participants in the religious activities particularly during the traslacion procession already draws a multitude of people. This is more noticeable during the procession from the Metropolitan Cathedral to Bicol River that culminates with the fluvial possession ending up at the Basilica Minore.


On this regard a small group of people resort to practices which may border on either fanaticism and exhibitionism- defined as “extravagant behavior that is intended to attract attention to oneself”.


Efforts have been exerted to put orderliness into the festivities. But whether we admit it or not the misbehavior of certain characters persists notwithstanding the massive appeals for observing solemnity. Sad to state the existence of liquor bans during the occasion is more known for being violated than being complied with.


This time however the ban should not be taken lightly or with indifference. The threat of resurgence of the Co-vid 19 virus is still very real.That is why health and safety protocols particularly regarding wearing of mask and observing social/physical distancing are of critical factor.


Imposing compliance might be more complicated at this point in time. This is so because certain government authorities have been sending confusing signals. At one point they would announce that Co-vid 19 is on the uptick and then a statement would be released to the effect that the disease is waning.


The people therefore are confused which statement merits reliability. The conflict is further exacerbated with the admission that the stocked vaccines are nearing expiration. An air of apprehension therefore is felt on the state of effectiveness of the injectables particularly with reference to the booster shots.


Health officials owe it to the people to be extra cautious in issuing statements about the expiry date and to avoid causing distrust on the part of the yet unvaccinated.


Be that as it may, each and everyone of us owe it to ourselves not to snub the health and safety protocols. Religious rites are better commemorated with solemnity in full compliance with the guidelines to protect and promote public health and safety, unless some wish to commit suicide or engage in scene stealing and or attract public attention, a psychological disorder.


The sight of the images of INA and Divino Rostro being borne by uniformed personnel is very unpleasant, to say the least. As if the procession is a military drill. Such situation is attributable to the misbehavior of a limited few which leaves authorities no other choice for a smooth procession.


Viva La Virgen! Viva El Divino Rostro!