One does not need to understand the ten-thousand-voiced chorus of “Bato Balani” (A magnetic field for Love) to feel the real devotion of the crowd to the Sto. Niño. One doesn’t have to be a religious practitioner to be moved by their single-focused devotion and love. Just like their arms high up in the air express, it is a wave that washes over you, nourishes your soul and lifts your spirit. This is only the third year we have done the Mass for the Environment within 476 years of celebrating the Fiesta Señor. The first one in January 2010 was birthed out of a convergence of several leaders and champions for the beleaguered Environment, inspired by Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA and Nicanor Perlas. This year, MISSION Cebu was asked to design and organize the mass.
Especially on the heels of calamity caused by Sendong on our neighboring islands, the consciousness of the people was much more heightened as the masses appreciated more the power of Nature and man’s role in making things right to curb the destruction. A mother and child opened the mass by talking about their love for family and for nature and true devotion to the Sto. Niño, heeding a call to give more love to the environment. A film produced by SNAF and the Thousand-Island-Project was shown as part of the homily, with Fr. Tito extolling a quote from one of the island boys featured—an outspoken 10-year-old named Gelbert—who said, “here on earth, when we cry, sometimes no one is there to wipe our tears, but in heaven when we cry, there will always be someone to wipe our tears. God.” Children offered their artwork and adults offered young trees endemic of the land of Cebu to be planted. At the end we made a community pledge to honor and love the Environment and we chanted, sang and danced the Sinulog, ancient and timeless, as the crowd’s love for the Sto. Nino.