Braving the heat of the afternoon sun, 28-year-old Leslie Anna Cantutay joined the procession from downtown Cebu City to the South Road Properties (SRP), where a thanksgiving Mass was to be said at a new shrine dedicated to the second Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod.
Along the way and at the site, she took pictures of the celebration, especially the re-enactment of the saint’s voyage to the Marianas Islands through a fluvial procession featuring a galleon-like vessel carrying his image. It was historic day, and she wanted her husband, who works in Japan, to be part of it. So she posted pictures on her Facebook account.
Many others did the same: Benedicto College high school teacher Ryan Jore; friends Jessa Sanchez and Ethyl Flores; nursing graduates Kimberly Rafols and Aljessa Demetria; and medical volunteer Benson Jay P. Cañete documented the event using their mobile phone cameras then logged on to their online social networks to share updates with contacts. “This is part of our panata (devotion) to San Pedro,” said Jore, who came with a big delegation from Tuburan that included students and catechists.
With over half a million people gathered for the occasion, Smart Communications Inc. worked behind the scenes to make sure they shared the moment with millions more all over the world through mobile technology and social media.
Smart provided Internet services and enhanced its network by setting up two mobile sites at the Mass venue, said senior manager for public affairs Maria Jane Paredes. This enabled Filipinos outside of Cebu and abroad to follow the developments through online updates of friends or video streams and other forms of coverage by such news agencies as Sun.Star and Radio TV Malacañang, Internet services were also made available to the media center. In addition, Smart helped facilitate Sun.Star Network Exchange’s live stream of the Mass and the program afterwards as well as two other areas in the 27-hectare venue by ensuring Internet connectivity for the website.
On the day of the Mass, the three video channels of the Sun.Star website served 11,000 plus viewers and post-event views have pushed the number up to a little over 90,000 as of December 7.
Norman Obenza, who is based in Abu Dhabi, said it was raining as he watched the proceedings online. He believed this to be “tears of joy” for San Pedro Calungsod.
Another viewer said it was inspiring to see a lot of people participating in the occasion and keeping Christianity alive. Others silently offered prayers and asked for San Pedro’s intercession.
Smart network users enjoyed seamless mobile services and prepaid subscribers had access to phone loads through the selling booths it set up at the venue and the ambulant vendors it deployed in various points.
Vilma Pesa, a doctor and among the medical volunteers, said she made use of the free wi-fi provided at their station along 43rd Avenue to take photos of the crowd and post these on her FB account. Strong connectivity services ensured easy posting of pictures on Twitter and Instagram. The 80 or so images of patron saints on carrozas that formed part of the procession and later set up at the shrine were among the most posted images online. Besides text and data services, Smart made other provisions for Mass goers, such as the setting up of 40 corporate tents and the beaming of Sun.Star’s live stream in the big plasma screens of the company’s Jump Experience Center at SM City Cebu.
Many pilgrims from the north and south of Cebu found practical the souvenir fans with a map marking important stations as medical, security, and media centers. Also printed on the fans were event schedule and tips on what to wear and bring.