TRIBU Buyoganon, which broke the hearts of local favorite Lumad Basakanon in the free interpretation category of last year’s Sinulog parade, will not be around next Sunday to defend its crown.

It allegedly refused to rehire its choreographer because it wants “exclusivity,” something that Victor Cuenco said he did not want to enter into.

“Maayo man og gisweldohan ko nila’g half a million. Besides, sa tulo nga contingents dugay man sila, unya naka-commit na ko sa San Carlos City (It’s not as if they’re paying me half a million City. Besides they took the most time to decide and I’ve already committed to San Carlos City),” he told Sun.Star Cebu in a telephone interview.

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Ricky Ballesteros, Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SF) executive director, said that Buyogan, Leyte officials wanted Cuenco to choreograph their contingent and no other group.

Cuenco believes he was not rehired because San Carlos’ Pintaflores and Buyoganon are competing in the same category.

Ballesteros, for his part, reminded contingents of the rules for the props they will use.

All props must be hand-carried and used during the street dancing and nothing should be left on the grandstand.

Any violation, he said, means a five-point deduction on each judge’s raw score. That’s enough to make or break a contingent.

With the competition so close, some contingents want an edge from unique concepts and steps.

Cuenco said that last year, when he took charge of both Buyogan and Siloy Festival of Alcoy, Cebu, Buyogan officials were slighted that he was also attending to another contingent, though they were competing in different categories.

Local contingents Lumad Basakanon of Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City (second prize) and Municipality of Carmen (third prize), however, will be around to provide strong competition in this year’s free interpretation category.

Ballesteros said Basakanon has a new concept and costume, which were copied along with its steps, by other contingents in past Sinulog grand parades.

In the Sinulog-based category, Carcar City’s Silaw Culture and Arts, Don Sergio Osmeña Memorial National High School, and Apas National High School are forces to reckon with.

Ballesteros said, though, that the out-of-town contingents still remain the participants to watch out for.

He said there is the Surralah, South Cotabato contingent, which won the Kadayawan Festival, a Mindanao-wide competition, in Sultan Kudarat.

Pintaflores; Placer, Masbate; and Lanao are also competing.