This morning, the climax of arguably the biggest religious festival to be held in GenSan has taken place. The Patronal Fiesta of the Santo Niño of Barangay Bula Parish would culminate in a grand fluvial parade of fishing vessels and other sea craft bearing the icon of the Child Jesus from the shores of Bula, across Sarangani Bay to the GenSan Fish Port Complex, and back to the city center where the icon would land at Lion Beach and be paraded in procession back to Bula Church. The event, coming in the heels of the main Santo Niño fiesta of Sinulog in Cebu, draws crowds that rival other citywide festivals, and wreaks havoc on Bula road traffic for several days.
But even as the Bula Santo Niño fluvial parade concludes on the morn of January 15, 2019 another parade on land related to the fiesta has already transpired on the evening before. This was the religious procession of the Santo Niño of Bula on the eve of its feast day, and while not as epic in scale as the parade that would then take place at sea the following day, it was just as important to the whole religious observation.
On the afternoon of Monday, January 14, grand assembly of floats and vehicles gathered along the length of Jorge Royeca Boulevard close to the Santo Niño Parish Church. Many of the processional floats represented the various GKK chapels under Bula Parish, and all carried images of the Child Jesus and other religious icons. Also well represented in the parade are vehicle-floats for various businesses in Bula and elsewhere, while a solid number of private and passenger motorized pedicabs (sikad) were turned into mini-floats with icons secured to their roofs. With loudspeakers onboard and along the procession route blasting various Sinulog anthems, the parade set off.
The evening Santo Niño procession would proceed along Royeca Blvd. towards the Round-ball junction with Acharon and Santiago Boulevards near the public market, then turn right along Santiago (with the day’s market activity having already wound down) before turning right again into the side-streets of Bula near the city center, eventually making its way to Honorio Arriola Street (Bula-Lagao Road) which leads back to Royeca, Barangay Bula proper and ultimately the parish church. During the course of the parade, one of the electrical transformers on the overhead power lines alongside the Royeca Blvd. route blew out, plunging Bula into a power outage that lasted up to two hours or so.
Despite that particular mishap, perhaps due to power reallocations to light up the fiesta arches, the whole Santo Niño procession was a big success, if the scores of pedestrians doing the Sinulog devotional dance along the route were any indication. Along with the fluvial parade this Tuesday, this cements the Bula patronal fiesta as one of the major yearly celebrations in GenSan, one that more tourists should definitely check out.