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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wenceslao: Sugat-Kabanhawan

MINGLANILLA is a proud claimant of the tag “Sugat Capital of Cebu.” I think no one is objecting to that. The town’s “Sugat,” which depicts Christ’s Easter resurrection is the most popular hereabouts—and for decades already. People even from outside of Minglanilla flock to the town center Sunday dawn. Other places have their own versions of the “Sugat” but these are not as grand as that of Minglanilla.

Minglanilla’s “Sugat” was held in the town plaza fronting the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish church until its transfer to the bigger grounds of the town’s sports complex. I think it was during the tenure of Msgr. Esteban Binghay as parish priest that the whole of “Sugat” day was transformed into a lengthy celebration now called “Sugat-Kabanhawan,” which expands it beyond the “Sugat” activities.

Minglanilla’s “Sugat” thus took the path Cebu City’s fiesta celebration has taken. To the feast of the Sto. Niño, a mainly religious activity was added the Sinulog Grand Parade, a mainly cultural activity. Here, “Sugat,” a mainly religious activity, has been expanded into the mainly cultural “Sugat-Kabanhawan.” The Church and the town government are working in tandem for its hosting.

The festival has since grown, so too the funding for its holding. The once makeshift structure where the angels played by kids were harnessed and hung is now a giant wooden structure that this year also functioned as the stage’s backdrop. The structure is built a few weeks before the “Sugat” and costs thousands of pesos. Even the amount spent by contingents for the costume and props have soared. “Sugat-Kabanhawan” has thus gotten bigger than the celebration of the town fiesta.

In the past few years, it has become the practice of the town to close the national highway to give way to the parade and street dance portion of the festival. This, in a way, contradicts one of the reasons why the “Sugat” site was transferred to the sports complex grounds: which was that holding it near the national highway had made its holding unwieldy.

I wasn’t surprised, therefore, when complaints were aired regarding the traffic problem that the closure by Minglanilla of a portion of the national highway caused. In this context, I agree with Gov. Hilario Davide III’s plan to meet with Minglanilla government officials to find ways to hold a successful “Sugat-Kabanhawan” festival without using a portion of the national highway.

A few years ago, the town government built a bigger market less than a kilometer from the national highway and in the process built wide roads there. Those roads are located at the back of the sports complex where a gate has been built. I say it’s a good area to build bleachers for the crowd and to hold the “Sugat-Kabanhawan” street dancing.

What this means is that it is time for Minglanilla to rethink its holding of “Sugat-Kabanhawan.” After years of doing it repetitively, it is time to introduce changes. (By the way, can’t the organizers find a better “Sugat-Kabanhawan” song for contingents to dance to?). If “Sugat-Kabanhawan” is to go to the next level, then it must go through a process of reinvention.


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