Nalzaro: It’s final: Sinulog 2021 is canceled
January 10, 2021
SO THE Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) and the steering committee for Sinulog 2021 have decided that all activities concerning the Sinulog, whether the live ritual showdown or the pre-taped performances, are cancelled. This means no more Sinulog 2021. The decision came after the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended to the national IATF the cancelation of the entire Sinulog activities.

The RIATF came up with its recommendation following calls from various sectors, including the police and medical societies, as it was afraid the activities would result in the mass transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In its resolution, the RIATF said, "it deems it more practical to present Sinulog Festival activities and performances from previous years through and online platforms.” (If you recall, I made the exact suggestion in my column last Wednesday, Jan. 6).

The RIATF said "all performance-based Sinulog Festival activities such as ritual dance showdown and street dancing competition, among others, pose a threat to the participating contingents and the possible crowd that it might draw which may, consequently, increase the risk of Covid-19 infection.”

"Even limiting the number of allowed performers in every contingent and holding pre-recorded performances in their respective places can still pose a risk of Covid-19 infection as it still requires the participants to gather and interact during rehearsals and the actual performance for the video recordings,’ the RIATF said.

Although, there is no official decision yet from the national IATF, the SFI, headed by Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, decided to cancel the entire event. City Councilor Joel Garganera, the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy chief implementer, said he is confident that the national IATF will respect and adopt the RIATF’s recommendation as the latter knows well the situation here. The RIATF is composed of regional directors of various national line agencies headed by the regional office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Garganera said it is very difficult for the SFI to get the national IATF to reverse the RIATF’s recommendation. "Suntok sa buwan (blow to the moon),” he said. The national level has to respect the decision of the RIATF. The EOC is an LGU (local government unit)-based IATF. Garganera himself had opposed the holding of the Sinulog Festival. In fact, he criticized Rama for bypassing his office (EOC) during the planning stage of the Sinulog. If you are a masiao fanatic, you can find in a masiao tip sheet the Spanish phrase: "El fallo del juez es inapelable (the decision of the judge is no longer appealable).” Also, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Josefino Ligan complained against Rama for easing out the police in the series of coordination meetings.

But whatever the national IATF decides is already immaterial. The issue can be considered as "water under the bridge” because Rama and the SFI have already conceded to the RIATF. After being insistent on pursuing the holding of the Sinulog Festival by claiming that "canceling the Sinulog is like canceling culture and canceling history,” Rama finally bowed to the decision of the RIAFT. ‘We have decided activities in the ritual competition to be put on halt and we are looking forward to discussing this matter side by side with the 500 years celebration of Christianity in April,” Rama said.

But wait a minute! Why did the national IATF approve the holding of the Dinagyang Festival 2021 in Iloilo, which is scheduled on Jan. 24, through a virtual and digital platform? It’s probably because the Dinagyang committee has been preparing for the event since last September. The committee limited the number of participating contingents to 10 with only 20 dancers for each contingent. The dancers are all adults who participated in the Dinagyang 10 years ago. During their short rehearsals up to final taping of their performances, the dancers and support crew underwent an RT-PCR swab test and were placed in "bubble” concept (isolation to protect them from being contaminated by Covid-19). As of this time, everything is ready for the airing of the event on social media and for those who want to cover it in mainstream media. The Sinulog preparations were all photo-finished as the SFI only started preparations only in December.

Well, the RIATF came up with a good decision and I would like to commend it and also the honorable vice mayor and the SFI for heeding the calls of various sectors to cancel Sinulog 2021. At least, they listened to the voice of the majority, especially to the experts, and set aside their own personal agenda. Our primordial concern is not culture and history but valuing human lives. We can set aside our freedom, rights and personal agenda in exchange for preserving our lives because we are in the middle of a pandemic. Bisan kanselado na ang Sinulog, mag-Pit Senyor lang gihapon ta!