‘Sugat’ and the ‘Kabanhawan Festival’

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Monday, April 14, 2014


IT was a few months ago when Fr. Joel Belciña announced during a Sunday mass that the old team ministry deployed to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Minglanilla town would be replaced by a new one. Belciña said that the old team ministry would be broken up, the priests composing it to be assigned to separate parishes.

The old team ministry got into a controversy when one of its priests was accused of committing a sexual act at the back of the church. The controversy eventually died down with the reassignment of the erring priest and the refusal of the Cebu Archdiocese to heed some parishioners’ call to have the whole team ministry transferred somewhere else.

I could not remember the names of the new team ministry members mentioned by Belciña, but one of them, Fr. Fritz Malinao, caught my attention. Malinao is also known as a composer, with one of his songs, “Paglaum” interpreted by actress-singer Vina Morales winning one of the editions of the annual Cebu Pop Music Festival.

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Belciña and company are gone but I haven’t been to a mass officiated by Malinao.

Instead, the Sunday mass schedule Belciña officiated is now being handled by Fr. Arnie Visitacion. I don’t know much about the priest except that he shouts during his lengthy sermons.

It now looks like the new team ministry members are on a collision course with the local government unit on the handling of the town’s popular “Sugat,” which in recent years have been attached to the cultural “Kabanhawan” festival, thus “Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival.” Last Sunday, the priests launched the signing of a petition to be sent to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma for the purpose.

The change, if there would be any, will only take effect next year because plans for Sunday’s Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival are already in place. A couple of weeks ago, carpenters were already constructing the structures that would be used for the event at the grounds of the Minglanilla Sports Complex.

The members of the new team ministry frown on the holding of a disco at the site on the night before the Sugat. They also want the Sugat venue to be returned to the plaza fronting the church instead of at the sports complex grounds.

I think the merging of the Sugat and the Kabanhawan Festival was decided upon when Msgr. Esteban Binghay was the parish priest, the town mayor was the late Eduardo Selma and the first district congressman was Eduardo Gullas. It was obviously an attempt to spice up the Sugat and for the town to acquire a festival akin to Cebu City’s “Sinulog.”

Some parishioners are asking why the call for a change in the Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival has to be done through a petition signing instead of the team ministry seeking a dialogue with current Minglanilla town officials led by Mayor Elanito Peña.

I think that’s a legitimate question that the priests may have to answer.

I would say that if changes in the Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival are to be effected, this should be discussed now, with the protagonists not having a stake to its conception.

Binghay, though he is an Episcopal vicar, is no longer the parish priest. Selma is dead and Gullas has been replaced by his grandson, Samsam. Peña, the team ministry and the younger Gullas can introduce fresh ideas into the festival concept.

I think the main change should be in separating the Sugat from the Kabanhawan Festival, with the Sugat to be handled by the team ministry at the plaza fronting the church and the Kabanhawan Festival to be handled by the Minglanilla Municipal Government at the sports complex—like in the old days. I also agree that the religiosity of the Sugat in Minglanilla needs to be recovered.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 15, 2014.

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