Alderman bats for revival of six o’clock prayer habit

Opinion Sideglance

A proposed legislative measure has been filed with the City Council seeking to revive and institutionalize the time honoured tradition of six o’clock evening prayer for all faiths and religions in the City of Baguio.

Dubbed as the “Prayer Ordinance” the proposed ordinance is authored by city councilor Edgar Avila who explained in his proposal that “all religions and sects understand and appreciate the value of prayer be it directed to God or Allah or other supreme beings that each and everyone have faith on, and that these are values we cherish for ourselves which we intend to pass to the younger generation”.

As provided for in the said proposed ordinance everyone in the streets of the city are enjoined to pause and pray silently to God, Allah or their supreme being as the siren from the City Hall grounds sounds at six o’clock in the evening. Also, all traffic in the city must temporarily come to a halt at six o’clock in the evening and resume a minute thereafter, except emergency vehicles such those used by the police, ambulances and fire trucks.

In explaining the reason behind the proposed revival and institutionalization of the six o’clock habit in the city Avila pointed out that that, “for old Baguio residents who grew up in the city, one of the most memorable traditions defining Baguio as a character city was the six o’clock habit piously called the “Angelus”. Back then when the siren sound at six o’clock in the evening everyone would stand still and whisper a minute of prayer as the City speakers blurted out the Angelus.

Councilor Avila then said in his proposal that he intends to bring back the said tradition but mindful of the changing times and the fact that the while the tradition of sunset prayer may be part of the Filipino culture it is nevertheless not a tradition of all Filipinos. He added that since culture changes and does not remain static it is constantly made and remade influenced as it is by time, people, technology and a host of other factors.

In this light the alderman further explained that in the revival and institutionalization of the said tradition the sensitive mindful leaders should take into account the welfare of all the constituents of the city and not just a particular sect. Thus under his proposal the siren will sound at six o’clock every evening and everybody, be they Catholics, Muslim or Christians are enjoined to pause and pray for a minute.
If the proposed ordinance will be approved, the city government of Baguio will recognize as a policy Section 5 Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, under the bill of rights, which provides that, “Xxx The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. Xxx”.