Crowded Novena? Here are Tips on How to Survive a Sinulog a Mass

photo by Anthony Bernaldo

“Prititits! *strong bang of the bass drum* Prititits!”, it was the same jingle I hear blasting from the speakers over and over again as I walked towards the toys sectionand checked out the Star Wars figurines (The Darth Vader Action Figure is a must have, to be honest) . As I walk and hum along to the jingle, I pictured out people in their torn shirts, the big parades, huge crowds, paint being sprayed all over, water bottles thrown in the air, whistling, the jeepneys that appear-and-disappear, hitching rides from strangers while stuck in SRP, lots of liquor, and dancing- these signs show that it’s that time of the month in Cebu again.

Sinulog Festival is an annual Cultural and Religious festival held every third Sunday of January in Cebu City. Before the celebration on Sunday, people attendthe 9-day novena masses held at Basilica Menor Del Santo Nino. It’s not easy to survive nor’ to maintain your focus in one novena mass. It’s like our local version of “Staring Game” only this time- you’ll be watching yourself, your things, the people you are with and try your best to focus on what the priest is preaching too.

So without any further ado- Here are the 5 ways to survive a NOVENA MASS:

5. Don’t settle for that one crowded “tempurahan” (food stall), there’s always a vendor waiting for a “patay-gutom” (always hungry type of person) like you around the corner :)

Let’s be honest here, a devotee or a person like you can go hungry anytime- we are all human beings here, after all. Never- i repeat, NEVER! settle for the overcrowded stall just because, it’s near. There’s always a few surprises around the corner and who knows- maybe you’ll be lucky enough to score one free stick because of you finding manong.

4. Bring Water. Trust a few vendors, fear the rest.

Seriously though. Don’t risk it.

3. Do not flirt with people. It ain’t romantic nor cool, it’s ~!##$%^ creepy.

In every mass, there’s always that one flirty person who takes advantage of you during “Our Father” or during the “Peace-be-with-you” part of the Eucharist. Do not be this person. Please. It’s called the “Holy Mass” for a reason.

2. Keep everything in one side.

Novena masses are not only known for its cultural importance but also, with its surprise visitors, the “Pickpockets” (It can be a good name for a punk band, don’t you think?). Keep everything in a small bag or in one pocket, do not- at all cost, bring a lot of stuff during a Novena mass. Like i said, “DON’T RISK IT.”

1. Do not use the mass.

Growing up and starting to gain more consciousness in the world I’m living in, nothing pisses me off the most other than people using the Novena mass as a shortcut for them to be forgiven at any cost this coming Sunday. Unfortunately, holy masses do not work like that. A Holy Mass is a celebration, a means for your faith — it is not something you can use but something you’ll participate in. As pretentious as it may seem, coming from a guy like me, I guess the point here is that- go to church cause’ you don’t want to ‘nor because, you need to. Religion is not really about a lot of statements and self-righteousness, it is about action and grasping the understanding to the world around you.

So there you have it! the 5 ways to survive a Novena mass. Hope you’ll have a pleasant week ahead and Pit Senyor Amigo/Amiga! :)

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