Every Sinulog, especially when it is an election year, organizers issue a warning for poll hopefuls not to take advantage of the huge crowds during the festival to promote their political ambitions.

It’s time the warning is issued again as the number of people in Cebu has started to swell days ahead of the main events, the solemn procession and the grand parade set for next weekend.

The Sinulog Foundation Inc., headed by its executive director Ricky Ballesteros, has said candidates to the May 10, 2010 elections should not exploit the festival’s activities to campaign for themselves. One report quoted him as saying, “We have already coordinated with the police to ensure that the Sinulog parade will not be marred with politics.”

With an estimated two million people expected to be in Cebu for the festivities, a person with a message to deliver could easily find a venue in any day of the coming week.

Ballesteros was quoted as saying the foundation has asked the police to stop anyone found to be distributing leaflets of election candidates, whether they be for local or national positions.

But past Sinulog celebrations on elections years have shown that in spite of such warnings some people used the festival to call gatherings of voters and potential supporters or to give out “gifts” as a way of celebrating the fiesta with Cebuanos.

The foundation and the police could only do so much, really, with their hands full with more pressing concerns like crowd control than to stop Mr. Candidate from exploiting the Sinulog. How to keep politics off the Sinulog should be a concern not only for the police but also for Sto. Niño devotees.

If someone gives you a leaflet of an election candidate, give it back. If a candidate shows up in the parade, feel free to let him or her know it is the wrong time and the wrong place.

A little research would show how the Sinulog does not welcome politicking. But if candidates do not do their homework, they stand to get an opposite effect to their intent in coming for the Sinulog.

***

The Sun.Star website at www.sunstar.com.ph opened its Sinulog 2010 online coverage yesterday with a video streaming of the Sinulog sa Kabataan at the Cebu City Sports Center. People regardless of where they were watched the Sinulog dancing as it happened via video on the website.

The streaming is part of the overall coverage of the Sun.Star website that includes a special section with photos, news, other information and a greetings board where devotees could exchange messages on how the Sto. Niño de Cebu has affected their lives.

More live streaming is scheduled for today and for next weekend when the procession and grand parade happen. You don’t have to be in Cebu to join the celebration.

Visit the website and click on the Sinulog 2010 icon on the top left portion of the homepage or go direct to http://www.sunstar.com.ph/blogs/sinulog/.

(ninicab@sunstar.com.ph)