The following day, Saturday, turned into a lounging day. Our schedule of visiting everything we thought we might like to see had caught up with us and both of us were tired. We went for an early morning walk while everyone was quiet and checked out a few places that I remembered from 2006. Nothing was really very interesting, we were just passing the time. We were planning to meet up with some friends, but they were busy. So we killed time.
Walking across the street to the Robinson’s mall, we got some fruit drinks and fruit. By then it was getting hot. Praxy took a nap and I fooled around on the internet and watched TV. Lunchtime came around so we headed back to the mall for lunch.
Outside, we found that the area was getting crowded. No big deal really, except all the people playing music were playing it very loudly and only three songs were on the menu. We listened to two Sinulog songs and the “Cebu” song ALL DAY LONG. 5 days later these songs are still plaguing my mind. You know how a song gets stuck in your head? Try three of them. Grrr! We shopped at the mall grocery store briefly and I watched a vendor in line in front of me buying over $200USD in chicken pieces to serve. I wondered, where could that be going? We ate our last Philippine lunch in the mall. There were several in there and we each picked one that looked good. The food was exceptional.
Back outside again, and it was really really getting crowded. Thousands of people around and the traffic had come to a halt. It was time for the Processional, the prelude to the parade. Thousands of spectators watched thousands of ordinary people march through the city leading and following the iconic “Santo Nino” statue. They were all quiet and very reverent, some carried their own little dolls. We watched for a while as well, then retreated to the coolness of our room. We were going to meet our friends at 8:00pm so we took naps to kill the time.
7:00pm we stepped outside to a world gone mad. There were tens of thousands of people everywhere, milling about. It suddenly hit me that these people were waiting for the parade the next day. These people had no plans to sleep, just wait. The $200 of chicken suddenly made sense. That man was going to be cooking day and night. Vendors had set up in every possible area, the congestion was incredible. Everyone was in great spirits, smiling and talking.
We set off to walk to the GV Tower motel a mile away for something to do. We had to have walked past or with 5000 people. Praxy wanted to do a little shopping, but that was impossible. People jammed everywhere. We met our friends, chatted and took a jeepney back to the motel. It was slow, but better than walking. As we got close to Fuente Osmena Circle, traffic ground to a halt. We walked the last 1/4 mile through throngs of people. Unbelievable. I was certainly glad I had booked our room 4 months ahead. There were certainly no rooms available, possibly even in the whole city!
Next morning, up and at ‘em at 9:00 am to find a place to watch. We chose a place and a group was waiting for the parade and practicing their routines. There was a nice place to stand and we enjoyed watching the warmup.
The crowd grew. Finally, one hour late, the parade began. The people poured in to watch out of every conceivable place. Soon, sardine time.
A beautiful bird costume. I tried to get a better shot with no success. By now I was standing on the support for a street light shooting pictures and video from the video camera. The heat and humidity had rendered my damaged Canon camera almost useless. I decided at that time I was going to replace it.
Magellan and Chief Lapu Lapu danced in the parade as well.
As we watched, things ground to a halt. The congestion on the parade route was terrible, people had forced their way through the barricade nearby and the marchers hardly had room to pass.
The Cebu police estimated that over 5,000,000 people were watching along the route. That is a 5 kilometer, 3 mile distance. 1 million people per kilometer. I can think of no other function or place in the world that has 5 million people show up for one event. They were stacked at least 6 deep everywhere I could see. Every building had people looking out the windows. 1000’s more were just off the route drinking beer or eating. Since things had halted, we took off for lunch. The marchers sat in the street as well, munching on lunch and slipping off the route to find restrooms. Everyone was smiling, cooperative and patient.
1 hour later, after lunch, the parade had moved 100 yards. We had had enough watching parade marchers eating lunch. We returned to our room, packed our bags for the upcoming flight to the US, and took a nap. The guards at the motel lined out a cab for us. We had thought about leaving at 10pm, but the sheer numbers of people in the area had spooked us and the guards. We chose to meet the cab at nine. Time to head home…