SINULOG Festival 2018 officially started on Friday, January 12, with an opening salvo and launching parade participated by various schools and firms in Metro Cebu.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña officially opened the festival, which is an annual celebration in honor of Sto. Niño, or the child Jesus.
The launching parade started at 4 p.m. at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, passed through Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard, and ended at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Wearing colorful and elaborate costumes, dance troupe members from 13 different schools performed street dances as they head to the sports complex, where they capped the activity with a unity dance.
The 13 schools that participated in the activity were the University of San Carlos, Salazar Colleges of Science and Institute of Technology, Cebu Doctor's University, Indiana Aerospace University, Mandaue School for Arts, Mandaue City Science High School, University of San Jose Recoletos, Abellana National High School, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, University of the Visayas, Cebu Technological University, University of Southern Philippines Foundation, and University of Cebu.
Kiara Del Mar of Cebu Doctor's University said they practiced street dancing two weeks prior to the event.
Some 13 candidates of the Sinulog Festival Queen and 12 sponsor BPO companies also joined the parade.
The 13 Festival Queen candidates who joined the parade were Alexandra Villahermosa Pontrivida (Tribu Gawasnon), Isabel Dalag Luche (Tribu Kandaya), Biance Wilhelmina Willemsen (Carcar City), Catherine Cadayona Tabaniag (Panglao, Bohol), Blanche Caranoo (Hugpong Kabatanonang Mananayaw sa Sapangdaku), Jewel Alexel Buot Image (Pundok Maampuong Tisa-anon), Ma. Sonia Fate Cal (Tisa Performing Arts), Claire Briones (Hugpong Karikas), Danica Antonette Suello (Tribu Madasigan), Shaila Mae Rebortera (Talisay City), Rocheld Delos Santos (Tribu Mahugyawong Pasil), Maerylle Blauta (Tribi Buyoganon), and Imee Thea Laron (Municipality of Tuburan, Cebu).
In his speech after the parade, Osmeña reminded the public to keep the city clean during the whole Sinulog celebration.
"As mayor of Cebu City, I have officially announced the opening, so please cooperate. Tell your friends let's keep the city clean aside from being peaceful," Osmeña said.
"So many people, so many sponsors, so many sacrifices, so many pilgrims are coming here. You cannot imagine the sacrifices they make. I'm the most nervous person in Cebu City, because if anything happens, I will accept the responsibility," the mayor added.
Around 200 security personnel were deployed during the parade.
The launching parade, meanwhile, caused heavy traffic Friday afternoon, especially in the downtown area, as the City Transportation Office implemented a stop-and-go traffic scheme in major intersections of Osmeña Blvd.
These intersections were closed when parade participants were about to pass a certain portion of Osmeña Blvd. (Precious Grace Gandia, AB Communications Intern/SunStar Philippines)