CATBALOGAN CITY -- The “Tribu Katbalaugan” of Catbalogan City won the heart of the public and overseeing judges as they performed in crowded streets of Cebu City’s annual Sinulog Festival, January 9, this year.

During the awarding ceremony, the Tribu was unanimously declared as champion in the street dancing category, first runner-up in the Free Interpretation category, and fourth-placer in the best in musicality.

The group brought home a total of P1.7 million cash prize.

Following Tribu is Tangub City’s Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe, which placed second, and Lanao del Norte’s entry in third place.

The Tribu Katbalaugan, also known as the "Manaragat Festival" of Catbalogan, bested 22 other contingents in both Free Interpretation (FI) and Sinulog-based (SB) categories.

Catbalogan Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan, together with her staff, personally chaperoned the more or less 400 contingents, many of them students. The group performed a new dance concept inspired by bats that can be found at the Central Cave located in Barangay San Andres, this city.

“Tribu Katbalaugan did a superb performance that showcased the importance of bats in our ecosystem and that although they may be creatures of darkness, they are still God's creations,” said Uy-Tan.

Leading the street performers is the 23-year-old Samar Mohamed Bautista Bandoukji a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Catbalogan and currently employed at the City Hall of Catbalogan.

In last year’s Sinulog Festival in Cebu, Tribu Katbalaugan won the second place as they performed a dance ritual of thanksgiving to the Sinulog fans. The Tribu performed a dance of thanksgiving to their patron St. Bartholomew and Sto. Nino for the abundance of sea products around Maqueda Bay.

Also last year, the group retained its crown as the champion during the Aliwan Fiesta 2016, or the Best of the Bests Festival showdown regularly held in Manila.

Accordingly, Mayor Uy-Tan gave the Tribu a 100-percent support in terms of training expenses and props. Strict discipline is being imposed to the members, such as dancers, ritualists, instrumentalists, artists, and props men.

“Thank you all. All these blessings of Catbalogan are for all Catbaloganons,” said Uy-Tan. “I am very much happy and proud for all of us. To God be the glory.”

WATCH: Replay of Sinulog 2017 contingents' performances (SunStar Philippines)